Cassandre McKinley
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Cassandre McKinley

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Jazz Soul


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Kevin McNeir"

Having grown up to the music of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, and even being raised for a while in his own home because my babysitter also sat for his own children, I have always maintained a real penchant for Gaye—both the man and his music.

So you can imagine that I was a bit leery when I heard that the latest release by vocalist Cassandre “Cass” McKinley, a Boston Conservatory of Music graduate, who at one time didn’t know if she wanted to be a singer or a dancer, was a tribute to a man who in my child’s memory was just about as close as one could get to God—next to my Dad, of course.

Clearly objectivity was lacking as I first began to explore this artist’s effort to pay homage to Gaye—his music, his writing and his various collaborations.

But as I listened with care I slowly began to realize that McKinley was truly inspired as she moves effortlessly through the discography of Gaye while maintaining the sound and style that has become her trademark.

And perhaps that was the greater task for this clearly gifted jazz vocalist—maintaining her own voice—her own sound and style—while seeking to approach the work of one of the greatest singers of all time.

“I love the freedom that comes with singing jazz,” she further writes. “Although there is still a form to the music. It can move and bend—it all depends on what’s inside the soul and how you happen to apply it.”

The CD begins with Gaye’s “Trouble Man” on which McKinley is skillfully accompanied by Brad Hatfield on piano. As the song moves to the refrain the rest of the band joins and finally at its conclusion, only one voice is heard---the drummer’s rim shot.

What she does with “I Want You” is just magical—it’s the heart of Gaye but with the vocal inflections of Dinah (Washington) or perhaps Nancy (Wilson). And with tenderness Steven Angellis adds a cleverly arranged “voice” on the guitar. But there are two cuts that you don’t want to miss on this CD. The first is “If This World Were Mine,” a duet originally performed by Gaye and his “on stage love” (and according to some reports his off stage love interest as well) Tammi Terrell. The second is one which only the most ardent Gaye fan will even remember, “Til Tomorrow”—a beautiful and moving song which “Cass” makes her own. On this one she is accompanied by Dino Govoni, a young tenor saxophone player who is already beginning to make his mark in the world of jazz.

Sometimes McKinley interprets the music in such a manner that you think you’re in a Louisiana speakeasy while at other times it’s almost like a song made for an old-fashioned hoe down in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky. And yet the spirit of Marvin Gaye is still present. “You done good sister.” Listen for yourself, but from this writer’s perspective, Brother Marvin would approve.

"Richard Bourcier"

While it seems like yesterday when I raved about Cassandra McKinley's first album Stay The Night. That was five years ago. That CD proved McKinley's unerring prowess at choosing great songs. Her latest project reinforces that belief.

This album showcases the Boston songstress immersed in the music of soul legend Marvin Gaye. McKinley loves the freedom of a jazz sextet and bends Gaye's music just enough to make it her own. Happily, only five of the ten pieces are from the top of the charts. Til Tomorrow made it to number 31 in 1983. Others are virtually unknown to any but Gaye's dedicated fandom. The soul idol's compositions fit the sultry singer like an old pair of shoes. Let's Get It On receives Cassandre McKinley's ultimate foxy treatment. Stand back and feel the heat! Til Tomorrow is another gem that benefits greatly from the Beantown singer's very personal handling.

Surrounded by some prime jazz players like bassist Marty Ballou, drummer Vinny Pagano and keyboardist Brad Hatfield, the singer makes good use of their ample talents. This writer is especially impressed by Brad Hatfield's performance on the album. Hatfield is known for his appearances as accompanist with jazz diva Rebecca Parris and as soloist with the Boston Symphony's performance of Mystic River. Almost a decade ago, Rebecca Parris was the first performer to submit a CD for my review. That was almost a thousand records ago!

Cassandre McKinley delivers a confident and relaxed jazz session. Baring The Soul is a fitting tribute to a legendary singer / composer. I'll bet Marvin would heartily recommend this CD. I certainly do!


"Pam Guthrie"

Marvin Gaye fans rejoice! Cassandre McKinley fans rejoice! Now rejoice together! Cassandre McKinley's third CD is a tribute to Marvin Gaye. It is passionate, evocative and sensual. Baring The Soul The Music of Marvin Gaye is a subtle, sexy homage that is even more perfect when accompanied by a glass of wine, a crackling fire and your own true love or even potential true love.

McKinley spent two years to produce this collection. By her own admission, it was a time of personal struggle. The depth of feeling, the intensity and fire that burn in each song makes it clear that Baring The Soul is a deeply personal effort grounded in McKinley's solid musical talent and skill. Dino Govoni on tenor sax plays a beautiful duet with McKinley in "I Want You." Their voices trade back and forth in a mellow love fest, while on "Pride And Joy" their zest and joy dance out from the music. Brad Hatfield's piano on "Trouble Man" fills the space underneath the vocals with as much heart as a chorus of backup singers while maintaining a gorgeous balance that keeps a sultry urban-night feel rolling throughout. "Let's Get It On" melts. Stephen Angellis's stunning guitar work, coupled with McKinley's sultry vocals, is winning. You might want to kick your shoes off, because several of the cuts are going to make you want to dance.

This album will be a delightful addition to your collection. And hearing it will make you want to follow the career of this talented young singer. You'll be glad to know that she's cut two addition CDs.


Right In Front Of You (1999) – Independent
Stay The Night (2001) – Independent
Baring The Soul (2004) – Independent
Til Tomorrow – Remembering Marvin Gaye (2006) MAXJAZZ




“The strained sexual heat of Gaye's "Let's Get It On" is transformed into five-and-a-half minutes of teasing foreplay”.
Jazz Times Magazine

“There's a music style called jazzsoul (we made it up) and our anointed queen is Boston native Cassandre McKinley”
Boston Globe

Boston born and based, Cassandre McKinley is a compelling jazz and soul artist that is gifted with a powerful, rich voice, captivating presence and unmatched vocal versatility. A professional performer for almost three decades, she has been featured on national and international stages and has performed with a long list of legendary artists. But, she’s no diva – though she’ll confidently and easily weave her way through jazz standards and Soul classics alike, singing with maturity and wisdom like a true veteran, she will stop to tell you a story – unwittingly disarming you like the “girl next door” she truly is.

Cassandre began intensive vocal studies at age 14 and at age 15, was signed with a talent agent in New York City and spent the next 15 years as a voice over artist, singer, dancer, actress and print model.

in her late 20’s, she developed a deeper love and appreciation for jazz music which launched her recording career. After several independent straight-ahead releases, she was quickly recognized an emerging young talent that approached her standards with something unique - a certain depth and allure that set her apart. In 1999, she was named “the one to watch” in an article titled “Boston’s Jazz “Divas” in Arts Around Boston Magazine. Since then, she has topped jazz charts on Amazon and Barnes and Noble retailers, named Female Artist of 2000 by and reviewed in every major industry news source and magazine including New York Times, Boston Globe, Jazz Times and JAZZIZ Magazine.

She has performed, recorded and collaborated with music greats Dick Johnson, Clay Obsorne, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Jay Geils, Fred Lipsius (Blood, Sweat and Tears), Jerry Portnoy (Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters) and Herb Pomeroy. In 2006, Cassandre was the featured performer representing Bose Corporation at the 49th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival.

In 2004, Cassandre combined her love for jazz and soul and released a cross-over Marvin Gaye tribute album. Cassandre’s third release proved to be the most honest and showcased her authentic sound. What followed was an undeniable attraction by national and international fans and critics to this rare and diverse compilation. The album was soon picked up and re-issued under the well-respected MAXJAZZ label and re-titled “Til Tomorrow – Remembering Marvin Gaye”. The album was released in markets both nationally and abroad and with which legitimized her career as a prominent new artist. Her music can be heard on over 500 national and international radio stations, cable and internet music outlets including XM radio, Pandora, Spotify and iheart Radio.

Cassandre currently balances her solo career with her position as Assistant Vocal Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.  

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