Belinda Underwood

Belinda Underwood

BandJazzLatin

Young vocalist/bassist brings jazz songwriting back to center stage. With sultry, hypnotic vocals and frank, emotional lyrics, Underwood's latest album, Greenspace, features jazz giants Benny Green on piano, Nancy King vocals, and Pink Martini members Phil Baker and Martin Zarzar.

Biography

Belinda Underwood

A Quick Herstory

Belinda's first exposures to music occurred five nights a week while she was captive in her jazz-pianist-mother's womb. With birth, the nightly exposure continued while she napped under the piano in a car seat.

After a childhood of violin lessons, harp lessons, orchestras and choirs, music became her choice when she fell in love with the upright bass at age sixteen. In high school she traveled as a bass player (on scholarship) to Australia with the Monterey Jazz Festival Honor Band, and in college she played and traveled with the UC Berkeley Wednesday Band.

Singing professionally didn't occur to her until years later when she was playing the bass at the Jazz School in Berkeley. There Belinda studied with Mark Levine, Ledisi, Raz Kennedy, Stephanie Bruce, Brian Pardo, Glenn Richman, and Frank Martin. The Jazzschool is also where she met David Friesen during a workshop and decided to go to Portland for bass lessons (after a quick trip to Cuba to study music and dance at the University of Havana.)

When asked what she valued most from her lessons with Friesen, she replied, "He was the first person who encouraged me to write songs."

Her debut album was launched in March 2005. Entitled "Underwood Uncurling", it features David Friesen, Airto Moreira, John Gross, Dan Balmer, Clay Giberson, Chad Wagner, Jason Levis, and Pink Martini members Phil Baker and Martin Zarzar. She sings (and plays some bass too) on the album, which is comprised of six original jazz compositions and six jazz standards.

In 2006, Belinda started performing and touring with New York jazz pianist Benny Green as her guest, and in 2008, she featured him on her latest jazz release, "Greenspace." Both national and international jazz audiences have enjoyed the chemistry of this dynamic musical team, a combination of Green's jazz lineage and Underwood's emotive story-telling.

The album Greenspace shows a new sophistication in Belinda's songwriting while paying homage to her jazz roots, evidenced by her choice and interpretation of lovely forgotten jazz standards. Grammy-nominated Nancy King appears on several tracks as well, and the rhythm section is rounded out by Pink Martini members Phil Baker and Martin Zarzar.

The last several years, Belinda has been making trips to Egypt to study with Dr. Alfred Gamil, a head professor at the Arab Music Institute in Cairo. The richness of Middle Eastern music has added new textures and colors to her songwriting as well as broadened the musical circles in which she performs.

Between tours Belinda plays and sings around Portland with Beliss (a sister duo,) Underwood and Friends (jazz quartet,) and Sarab (traditional Middle Eastern dance music.)

Lyrics

Uncurling

Written By: Belinda Underwood

Uncurling

A paper crane from a boy

who showed to me the simple joy

of a delicate fern

uncurling

A lonely pain for the boy

who showed to me the simple joy

of my passionate turn

Toe-curling

Why would I ever pass this up?

Two souls, tired of the roles

that lovers seem to buy

Why would I try not to love?

Earth school can be cruel,

love is in short supply

I feel insane from the joy

of simply having met a boy

so willing to learn

Mind-whirling

Trees

Written By: Belinda Underwood

Slowly grew the ancients

green paradise of patience

and reaching forever toward the blue

here it stood

vast organic city

Slowly slew the ancients

free paradise of lumber

and reaching forever toward the blue

here it stands

vast synthetic city

Oh how few are there

and still they give us so much air

(give us beauty, green and shade)

Will we start to care?

Or will we shave Earth bare?

Slowly grow the ancients

green paradise of patience

and teaching all who dwell beneath the blue

how to stand vast, organic,

trees

World Peace Blues

Written By: Belinda Underwood

World Peace!!!

Say My Name

Written By: Belinda Underwood

Be gentle, and I'll be the same. Enfold me, hold my hand, say my name. I'm not always right, just in pain, but please, don't be cold. Say my name! This life is too brief for us to fight.
I am feeling sad. I want you to put your arms around me. I'm not always right, just in pain, but please, don't be cold (don't stop touching me). Say my name! This life is too brief for us to fight.

Midnight Snatcher

Written By: Belinda Underwood

Now on our farm, there's no need for alarm. Our wall is tall and sturdy. There aren't any dangers for a chicken to face, except maybe just getting dirty....but when I was a child, we lived in the wild, without so much as a fence. And though our owner was nice, she had to learn thrice about safety at our expense.
We were six spring chicks, sleeping in the old hen hut. Our minds were blurry, we didn't worry, because the door was tightly shut. But then we heard a sound, coming from the back door of the hatcher, and in walked the horror that we refer to as the midnight snatcher.
Please, oh please, snatcher don't take me! I'm much too old and tough as you can see, oh snatcher please don't snatch me!
Now all of you, spring chicks, will never have to know such fear. You'll see him walking, you'll hear him stalking, but he can't get you in here. And you'll continue being safe unless he learns to chew through wood, or pick locks, or tear through wire, which he won't do if you are good!
Oh please, oh please, snatcher don't take me! I'm much too old and tough as you can see, oh snatcher please don't snatch me!

Odd Meter Blues

Written By: Belinda Underwood

When I got back from Egypt, I said, "Mr. Green, I'm going to write you a blues in nine! Don't worry Mr. Green, it's easy Mr. Green, it's really going to be just fine. All you need to play this odd-meter blues is to break it down into a three and three twos."

Polar Blue

Written By: Melissa and Belinda Underwood

I'm swimming in the ocean blue, don't know what to do. There's nowhere to rest my feet....is it because of the heat? I guess the icebergs are melting.
It seems like only yesterday I had an icy place to stay. My family was all around, but now they're all drowned. I guess the icebergs are melting.
Why must all those human beings go around slashing and burning things? They are not the only race that has to live in this place!
I'm wondering why no one cares about the plight of polar bears, but tell me, what did we do to deserve all this blue? I guess the icebergs are melting.

Seeing Red

Written By: Belinda Underwood

this song is an instrumental

The Oasis

Written By: Belinda Underwood

There's an oasis in the sand where very few would dare to go. Even the people of this land forbid their daughters. In this forbidden place a band gathers every night to play, and what the others don't understand is that the music brings the waters. And so the people drink the music from the well, and all the time they think that all musicians go to Hell. But despite all this, the band gathers every night to play, and the water flows from empty sand to grow another day.
One night a farmer heard a sound, the lovely music of the stars....went to the well and there he found the magic band playin'. He got the sheriff and his hound to come and chase the band away. See, the farmer didn't understand that music is just like prayin'. And so, of course, the well returned to dry and empty sand, and all the people had to pack and leave their cherished land. But in a different place the band gathers every night to play....they made a new oasis in the sand to grow another day.

Discography

Underwood Uncurling - 2005 - played at over 150 stations across the USA, Canada, and Europe.

Greenspace - 2008 - just released - played at over 200 stations across the USA, Canada, and Europe.

You can download her music on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and other music sites.

Set List

Jazz Standards & Originals, over 100 songs