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New York native Stacey Kent never anticipated a career in jazz music, for she was a Sarah Lawrence graduate with a degree in comparative literature. But her childhood days spent listening to the traditional beauty of Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole undoubtedly influenced her. While on holiday in Europe after graduating from college, she took up singing without much formal training and never looked back.
Kent became acquainted with several musicians at Oxford in 1991 and through them she found herself participating in a jazz course at the famed Guildhall School of Music and Drama. There she also met her future husband, tenor saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, and also landed a spot in the class. Her next spot was singing with the Vile Bodies Swing Orchestra at the Ritz Hotel in London, quickly landing a role in Ian McKellen's Richard III film, playing a big-band singer. The mid-'90s were more focused on recording and in 1996, Kent inked a deal with Candid Records. A year later, the critically acclaimed Close Your Eyes was issued; Tender Trap followed in 1999. Her third LP Let Yourself Go: Celebrating Fred Astaire, which showcased popular standards, appeared in spring 2000. The ballad-oriented Dreamsville appeared the next spring. She also recorded an album with Tomlinson titled Lyric, and appeared on Blue Note for several albums during the 2000s and 20102.
Stacey Kent (born March 27, 1968) is a Grammy-nominated American jazz singer.
Kent attended Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey. Her paternal grandfather was Russian. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and moved to England after her graduation. While studying at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she met the tenor saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, whom she married on August 9, 1991.
In the early 1990s, Kent began her professional career singing regularly at Café Boheme in London's Soho. After two or three years, Kent began opening for established jazz acts across the road at the Ronnie Scott's nightclub in London.
Her first CD, Close Your Eyes, was released in 1997. She has released nine CDs as of 2011, and has been also featured on Tomlinson's albums, most recently The Lyric (2006), which won "Album of the Year" at the 2006 BBC Jazz Awards and was re-released on Blue Note in 2011.
Kent's music was championed by critic and jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton, and she won the 2001 British Jazz Award and the 2002 BBC Jazz Award for Best Vocalist. She has also presented jazz programmes on BBC Radio 2 and .
At the 2006 BBC Jazz Awards, Tomlinson, upon receiving the award for "Album of the Year" for The Lyric, announced that Kent had signed with Blue Note.
Kent's album, The Boy Next Door achieved Gold album status in France in September, 2006. Breakfast On The Morning Tram (2007) achieved Platinum album status in France in November, 2007 and Gold album status in Germany in February, 2008 and was nominated for Best Vocal Jazz Album at the 2009 Grammy Awards.
Kent appeared in Ian McKellen's 1995 film version of Richard III, singing a jazz version of Christopher Marlowe's poem The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.
Booker Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro wrote the liner notes to Kent's 2003 album, In Love Again. Ishiguro has co-written four of the songs on the fall 2007 Blue Note album Breakfast on the Morning Tram. One of the songs written by Ishiguro, "The Ice Hotel", with music composed by Tomlinson, won first prize in the International Songwriting Competition in April 2008.
On 31 March 2009 Kent received the National Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) - a government decoration - in recognition of her contribution to the arts, from French Culture Minister Christine Albanel.
Stacey's 2010 album, Raconte-Moi (Blue Note/EMI), is an all-French album, which achieved Gold album status in France and Germany.
Her latest album, Dreamer In Concert (Blue Note/EMI), is a live album, recorded on May 30–31, 2011, at La Cigale, in Paris. The album includes three previously unrecorded selections: Antônio Carlos Jobim's "Waters of March", and two new compositions by her husband, saxophonist and the album's producer Jim Tomlinson: "Postcard Lovers", with lyrics once again by the novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro, (author of Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go) and "O Comboio", penned by the Portuguese poet António Ladeira, which she sings in Portuguese.