“The first thing you notice about GRETCHEN PARLATO is that she’s a singer with a deep, almost magical connection to the music,” says jazz legend Herbie Hancock. “She takes a lot of chances with her understated style, and it works. Every note is expressive, powerful, and pretty. And most important, her heart is in the right place.”
The winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, Parlato comes from Los Angeles, where she attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. When she was selected at age 16 for a solo role in an L.A. Opera production and for a solo performance at the John Cage Retrospective at MOCA, music was transformed from a fun hobby into the early stages of an artistic career.
After studying African percussion along with earning a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies from UCLA, Parlato continued to study Brazilian music, the Portuguese language, and jazz. In 2001 Parlato became the first vocalist (she was selected in lieu of a trumpet player by Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, and Herbie Hancock) to be accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.
A number of important festival and concert appearances followed, including the Ojai Music Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Taos Jazz and Latin Festival, and the concert for UNESCO in Paris, with Herbie Hancock.
In the fall of 2003 Gretchen moved to New York, where she quickly created a buzz. She has performed at celebrated jazz venues such as the Blue Note, Sweet Rhythm, 55 Bar, and the Jazz Gallery.
Parlato has provided vocals for the soundtrack to the 2004 film Seeing Other People starring Jay Mohr and Walt Disney’s A World of Happiness, which also featured such artists as Lou Rawls, Gary Oldman, Deborah Harry, and Isaac Hayes.