Monica McIntyre
Gig Seeker Pro

Monica McIntyre

Band Blues R&B


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



"Musicpicks: R&B"

She's definitely got the rhythm. And oh yeah, she sure has the blues. But the smoky grooves laid down by Philly's own Monica McIntyre and her cello are not exactly R&B—at least not the kind you're used to hearing at your local Wawa. There's no pleading, wailing choruses or sexed-up single-entendres. Nor are there electronic blips and synthesizer solos. McIntyre's R&B is all tangled acoustic roots sounds and jazzy embellishments. Her sonorous voice—a bassy, robust Hill-Scott blend—gives weight to lyrics about dark, sacred moments and dissolved relationships. - Philadelphia CityPaper, By: Patrick Rapa

"Sound: Out of the Orchestra"

Blusolaz, Monica McIntyre's album debut, contains the description of the album in its name. The name is a synthesis of blues, soul, and jazz, as is the music included on the album. Monica uses her smooth, rich voice to narrate tales of sorrow and hope. This in and of itself may sound pleasant but mundane. What makes Monica McIntyre's music standout from Philadelphia's stock of soulful singers is the instrumentation in her music. Monica is a cellist who uses her instrument in a non-traditional manner. She often plucks the instrument as if an upright bass, or hits the frame for a sound reminiscent of an acoustic guitar. Her instrument of choice, which distinctly stands out, both in live settings and within the local music scene, instantly grabs your attention. Her technique, voice, and intricate lyrics hold that spell. - BInformed Magazine, By: Brandyn Muller

"The Blue Journey of Monica McIntyre"

Her singing can be tender or furious, shifting gears on a dime, her arrangements and playing unlike anything you have heard before, creating combinations of sounds only a true artist could concoct. The explorations and journeys with her beloved cello have been captured on her first release Blusolaz, a great starting point for any fledgling McIntyre fan or anyone who has seen her play and needs more. While McIntyre's sounds are truly and uniquely her own, one can't help but run into the ghosts of Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, and others along the way.

- Philadelphia Art Writers, By: Greg Trout

"The Blue Journey of Monica McIntyre"

"From the second Monica McIntyre's bow hits the cello, it starts to sing...She pulls, tugs, strums, and riffs, building powerful chords and melodies in perhaps the most unorthodox manner seen in a cellist yet." All this she does while singing lyrics so finely crafted that they read like poems. Monica's deep textured voice can lull and soothe or incite an audience to shout encore. Some have compared her to Jimi Hendrix, Cassandra Wilson, Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill. "If you have yet to experience the power and magic that is Monica McIntyre, whether on record or through her dynamic live performances, this is a great time to be a music fan..." - MagnaPhone Magazine, By: Greg Trout

"You Look Like You Do Something"

The 2004 Philadelphia Black Women's Arts Festival (BWAF) came to life at the Rotunda on 40th Street and Walnut Street from 12 to 10 pm on July 17. The indoor/outdoor event was largely the oeuvre of this year's curator and host, Monica McIntyre. Her life parallels the production of BWAF in that she too, is a Black woman artist living in Philadelphia. Her creativity, best exhibited by the unique way she plays the cello was also tapped when booking this year's talent. Founded by Cassendre Xavier in March 2003, BWAF is an annual showcase of talent, films, vendors and products created by Black women. - Philadelphia Art Writers, By: Sherella Gibbs

"Bruised Fruit for Sale"

“Bruised Fruit” does in two minutes what novelists strive to do over 800-pages. With a few chords and a melody, Monica McIntyre somehow manages to define a character, invite the listener into her world, witness her struggle, and ultimately witness hope.

It’s not often I expect a song to do such things. Rarely will you hear, “That was a great song. It totally made me witness hope.”

I use the analogy of 800-page novels because it usually takes that long to chronicle such a complex, specific feeling with any kind of success. Unless you’re Monica McIntyre, equal parts poet and musician, who can express years of emotion in a few words and illuminate deep-rooted human truths with lemonade harmonies and a cello instrumental that feels like a small wooden church in Alabama with no A/C.

“Bruised Fruit” doesn’t limit itself to just hope, though. This is a song for anyone that has ever felt overlooked, left alone, “battered and bruised, hurt and abused.” It is an ode to being damaged. To being damaged and knowing it. To knowing it and still offering yourself to the world. Bruised fruit for sale. - Freshout Media, By: Joe Robbins

"Cellist Explores Jazz's Many Styles: Artist has embraced music form and it's improvisational nature"

When the 2006 Pulitzer Board announced its special citation to Thelonious Monk, honored posthumously, for “a body of distinguished and innovative musical composition that has had a significant and enduring impact on the evolution of jazz,” it had a reverberating effect on budding jazz artists such as Monica McIntyre.

McIntyre, 28, has honed her skills as a cellist since age 7, learning to playing a montage of European Art Music in her home state of Maryland. She experimented with its sound, playing an experiential blend of baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary genres. Still, it was her exposure to Philadelphia’s grassroots-style of jazz during her college years at Drexel University that provided the enriching perspective of African-American culture interwoven in its eclectic repertoires.

“Before coming to Philadelphia I really didn’t grow up listening to jazz. I may have heard a little on the radio, but my parents weren’t into jazz so there were no jazz albums in my house,” McIntyre said. “For me, this (jazz) was about exploring and developing in something new and I still find it challenging.”

McIntyre stumbled onto the cello as much by chance, as default. The youngster, accompanied by her parents, had gone to sign up for the D.C. Youth Orchestra, but the line to play violin was too long. Determined to play an instrument of her own choosing, instead of waiting for one to be assigned, she selected the cello.

Like jazz pioneers Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Sun Ra, McIntyre doesn’t simply “sing, write and play music,” she melds the clefs into a fretless intonation of sultry scats delivered on the purring strands of her cello.

She moves gracefully from fretless, thumb-style, to a vicious pizzicato, with the ease of a Nina Simone scatting the ripples of a folksy-jazz ballad. She plays position with precisionist syncopation of voice and instrument.

“Jazz is a very difficult music to learn and it hasn’t, for the most part, received the recognition that other music genres have, so an honor to Thelonious Monk is a great step in the right direction,” said McIntyre.

After embracing jazz, she realized that it has no boundaries. Beyond mastering the cello’s bow, McIntyre began strumming ripples and riffs by fingertip, creating a succession of explosive chords that lends distinction to the evolving jazz-cellist’s style, which is captured on her CD, “Blusolaz,” which merges the familial sounds of blues, R&B and jazz.

McIntyre said she gravitated to jazz because in its improvisational form there are no right or wrong notes, no notated pages of exact rhythms and, at times, no preconceived notion of where the music will or even should lead.

“I’ve been exploring jazz and other styles of music because I love of the deep tones of the cello,” said McIntyre. “I have never had the mindset that classical music is the only kind of music there is, nor that the cello can only play classical.”

Philadelphia’s rich jazz scenes have given birth to musicians such as Sun Ra, who in the mid-1960s, moved his band into a row home in the city’s Germantown section to explore the endless possibilities of the art form, turning the house into a quasi-musicians’ commune. Jazz saxophonist John Gilmore, at the time, remarked, “Where else can you be around a cat who is writing not one, not two, but three or four arrangements a day – and one is badder than the next?”

Creating a distinctive style, McIntyre now integrates Middle-Eastern chords in her music creating a soulfully exotic sound that will be featured at a benefit performance April 28, 6:30 p.m., at 5th Street Coffee House at St. Paul’s, 5900 N. 5th St., in Philadelphia’s Olney section. The Coffee House is located inside St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran church. Also featured at the event will be poet LeDerick Horne and guitarist Chris O’Brien.

Proceeds of the fundraising concert benefit Tech Access Pa., a nonprofit that connects used computers with low-income individuals and families.

- The Philadelphia Tribune, By Arlene Edmonds

"Resonating Truth"

Monica McIntyre has been thinking a lot about abuse.Not necessarily the kind that grabs headlines or leaves physically and emotionally devastated victims in its wake, though these, too, are acts, she says, around which more dialogue needs to take place.

But the abuse McIntyre is talking about is more subtle and insidious -- the accumulation of countless seemingly insignificant instances that day after day begin to erode self-esteem, breed fear and sabotage relationships.

The kind, she says, where the role of abuser and abused are sometimes exchanged in the silent agreement made in which no one will claim responsibility for their part in the dance.

And it is from those thoughts, heavy and probing, as well as painful conversations about them -- with friends and with family -- that McIntyre, a cellist, lyricist and vocalist, is giving birth to her forthcoming CD.

The title?


If it's jarring and unexpected, it's because she wants it to be.

"At the very least, seeing something called "Abuse' hopefully starts a conversation," she says. "It's a word that's not often spoken."

But McIntyre, who performs Saturday at the Poetry Caf, which takes place every third Saturday of the month at the Latt Lounge in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, is not one to shy away from the provocative and the awkward, the intensely personal and the universally shared.

Her first CD, "Blusolaz" -- so named for its amalgam of blues, soul and jazz -- was an intimate and aching exploration of fragile and crumbling relationships and the process of reclaiming one's worth and sense of self after love's demise. "Abuse," for which she's released two singles, "Fishergirl" and "She's Strong," on the EP "Bars of Gold," shares that theme of hopefulness, of searching for solutions amid darkness and defeat and learning the lessons that often come from the most agonizing of circumstances. The alternatingly frenetic and melancholic "She's

Strong," with her spoken-word protestations and soulful singing woven through funky beats and exotic rhythms, marvels at the resiliency and power of a woman determined to face her demons and end the perpetual cycle of abuse, no matter how tough it is. On the bluesy, gospel-inflected "Fishergirl," she acknowledges how much of a struggle it can be to keep those boundaries that protect us when we're all carrying our own hurts and acting out from them more often than we realize.

"It's important that the album get made, not just for me, but for the people it can help," says McIntyre, whose song "Bruised Fruit" from her debut album, about the beauty that still exists in those who've been battered and broken, has become something of an anthem among her fans. "We're all mistreated on some level. We need to look at who is doing the mistreating and for what purpose. From being mistreated, we learn to mistreat and we can do some very hurtful and cruel things to each other. We all play a role in it, but all we can do is fix ourselves."

If her songs can encourage others to accept that responsibility, then McIntyre, who gave up a job in interior design three years ago to pursue music full time, will have fulfilled her primary goal.

"I am interested in making music that ensures no one is mistreated and that those who need the most help get the most help," she says. "It's important to be troubled by our problems, to be annoyed by them, to be frustrated by them -- for me, that's the first step to taking care of them."

Hers is an intensity that she has always applied to her art.

When she was 7, McIntyre's parents took her and her older sister, Marcia, to sign up for violin lessons with the District of Columbia Youth Orchestra. But according to McIntyre, who grew up in Hyattsville, Md., and now calls Philadelphia home, the line for budding 7-year-old violinists was too long, which is how the cello -- for which there was no line at all -- became her instrument of choice. After a few years of playing, she grew to love it, so much so that she seemed to embody the sounds she was creating, her features becoming animated, her body moving almost subconsciously, keeping time and mood with each piece. When it was time for college, however, she chose to major in fashion design at Drexel University.

"I wanted to be a lawyer at the time," she says, "and I thought I had to go for political science or English or government, or history. Then in 11th grade, I was told I could go to school for anything I wanted for undergrad, and I was really into fashion magazines and had always liked art and been able to draw, pretty much from when I was very young."

And although she found the course work more challenging than she had imagined, she threw herself into it, with music taking a backseat to her classes and projects. After college, she got a job with an interior design firm. When a friend of hers told her that a group she played with, the Psalters, was losing its string player, McIntyre, who until that point had played only classical music, decided to go for the opening.

"It was really, really interesting music -- Middle Eastern, drumming, chanting, all kinds of stuff. It was a really intense group," she says. "That was like a whole different musical experience. There was no music to read. You would just come and they'd play or sing it for you and you'd just have to pick it up. It was really, really difficult.

"That experience, being in that group after college, I think that jump-started me (improvising), playing without music and playing something other than classical."

From there, she began doing open mic nights, performing with various groups and then, when she accepted a solo gig and didn't have anything original to perform, writing her own music and lyrics.

"It just started flowing and flowing," she says of the words, which were influenced by a lifelong love of reading. "Toni Morrison taught me how to tell a story, the appropriate time to reveal details, how to describe a thing in such a way that you see it, smell it, taste it. Gloria Naylor is probably the best "blues' writer there is ... Neely Fuller Jr. (author of "A Handbook for Victims of Racism') has taught me, by example,A how toA reveal truth and believe me, it hurts." A

But for McIntyre, that kind of honesty and vulnerability is what gives music its life.

"If I write those personal things about wherever I am in that moment, and I'm being as truthful as I can, then it comes across very bare and raw and naked to people. And that truth is going to ring. That's where people are going to say, "Hey, that's me.'

"This is not so that at the end of my life I can say I made 10 albums," she says. "It's about being able to say, "What did this do for you?' Your work goes beyond you, and that is a reminder for me to humble myself, to keep seeking the truth, to keep digging, no matter how hard it hurts."
- The Intelligencer, By: Naila Francis


Blusolaz, LP, Self-Release, October 2003
Bars of Gold, Single, Self-Release, August 2005



Recipe:Healing Music That Makes People Hype

Yields: Blues, Funk, Rock, Accapella-Soul, Folk, Reggae, Spirituals

Sounds Like: A Gospel Choir + Moaning Strings + Groove = Feel Good Sonically Emotional Music

Flavor Influences: Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, and The Ups and Downs of this curent life

--A healthy chunk of Monica McIntyre's delicately carved lyrics, textured vocals, cello playing and sense of time. The voice of an older, much larger woman has been known to sneak out of this tiny persons body, threatning at any moment to break it open.
--Two good hand-fulls of Marcia McIntyre on vocals so perfectly in sync with Monica's you would swear one person was singing both harmonies at the same time. As if this weren't enough she makes her violin weep, with every sound she elicits, for it's mother.

You've never heard sisters bring it like this duo; they hit you hard and leave a lasting impression.