Sarah Deleo
 
  Jazz vocalist Sarah DeLeo takes the best from the masters and combines it with her own signature style to produce a 'fresh classic.'

"Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand — they had the greatest impact on me as a young singer," says Sarah. "I spent hours with their recordings listening and experimenting with my own voice. After a while, I went beyond mimicking them to actually presenting my own style." And many would agree that this fresh spin on classics is what makes Sarah so enjoyable to listen to and watch.

Sarah began singing at the age of nine, and soon after discovered her lifelong passion for singing standards. While a high school student at Choate Rosemary Hall, Sarah developed an interest in improvisation and embarked on her own study of the jazz repertoire by listening to the recordings of John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Sarah Vaughan, among others. Growing up Sarah also grabbed any opportunity available to sing, from classical choir, to gospel choir, to pop a cappella. During the summer breaks from high school and later Barnard College, she would return home to Waterbury, Connecticut to perform in community theater.

After college Sarah began her career singing at jam sessions and in piano bars throughout Manhattan. "I became a regular. I took advantage of any opportunity to listen, learn, and of course, sing. Every time in front of the mic was practice," remembers Sarah. "I found guidance from working musicians and performers I met in the clubs."

One such person who provided invaluable guidance was singer/songwriter Lina Koutrakos. "Studying with Lina was amazing. She created an environment in which I felt comfortable to improvise musically and to develop my skills as a lyric interpreter. I really began to come into my own as a performer during this period. When I started performing solo gigs, I incorporated all of my experiences." She has also studied with jazz musicians Jay Clayton and Dena DeRose.

DeLeo's repertoire consists primarily of jazz and pop standards from the 1920s through 1950s along with the blues and neo-roots songs in the style of the old standards. As an adult, Sarah has been most influenced by the music of Dinah Washington and Erykah Badu. Venues such as Kavehaz, Chez Suzette, and Caffe Taci are some of the places that have seen Sarah light up the crowd. On stage Sarah conveys a natural charm and grace. Audiences appreciate her unique voice (once referred to as her "calling card"), her exquisite phrasing, and her heartfelt interpretations of ballads (which have been described as "beyond her years"). It is no surprise then that she has been compared to a variety of singers from Big Band era vocalist Helen Forrest to 1950's girl singer Julie London to jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan.