"A must-see for lovers of world class jazz" [Los Angeles Times], "striking, soulful, enchanting" [Washington Post], "expressive, full of passion [Philadelphia Inquirer], "broadly imaginative", [New York Times], "compelling and utterly original" [Jazzwise], award-winning New York-based, Anglo Trinidadian singer, Tessa Souter, has been critically acclaimed as much for her expressive style as for her "truly beautiful voice, [which] really serves great lyrics, using the beauty of her voice to unearth and get to the core of great songs." [Sirrius Radio]

Born in London, the daughter of English and Trinidadian parents, her unique style infuses jazz with the soul and passion of flamenco, Middle Eastern and Brazilian music. And her new CD, Obsession -- a multicultural banquet that reflects her African, Indian, and English bloodlines, as well as her American present -- is her third in an international singing career that has taken her all over the world, playing to sold out houses from the Blue Note New York to Beirut to Moscow -- and beyond.

"The best thing is that Souter sounds different." [Philadelphia Inquirer]. "There's no one doing what Tessa does," enthused author and critic Will Friedwald. "One of the most imaginatively programmed vocal sets of recent memory" said the Los Angeles Times, in a rave review of her California debut in 2002. Her first CD, Listen Love, won critical raves for her "crystal clear voice and diamond cut phrasing" (Philadelphia Inquirer) and "direct, soulful sound" (Village Voice). Her sophomore CD, Nights of Key Largo, recorded on Japanese audiophile label, Venus, with all-stars Kenny Werner, Billy Drummond, Jay Leonhart, Joel Frahm, and Trio de Paz's Romero Lubambo, won Swing Journal's coveted Gold Disc award in the January 2009 issue, which said of her, "there are traces of Billie Holiday and Carmen McRae in her phrasing, and Julie London and Peggie Lee in her delicate breathing, which harbors a touch of sorrow." 

But it's not just the critics that love her. Soul jazz singer Jon Lucien said of Listen Love. "Magnificent! I couldn't stop playing it over and over. She blew me away!" Sheila Jordan says, "She's at the top of my list of great talent. I love her voice. She really moves me." Legendary tuba player Howard Johnson says she is "an important musician ... whose brilliant lyrics and songs make her stand out from the pack so very much, not to mention how well she sings other people's material."  Bill Evans' last drummer, Joe La Barbera, says of her, "Tessa is a unique voice in jazz." Los Angeles based guitarist Larry Koonse says: "She is the real thing in every way."

Formerly a features journalist for the international press, Tessa was cited by San Francisco author Po Bronson, in his best-selling What Should I Do With My Life, as someone who successfully transformed her life twice. After moving from London to San Francisco in the early 90s, she established herself as a freelance journalist, initially juggling cleaning houses with penning articles -- on everything from the San Francisco homeless to travel, to celebrity interviews, to her own experience as a teen mother -- for the London Times, Independent, Guardian, Vogue and Salon, eventually becoming one of the original six of the now famous literary haunt, the Writer's Grotto.

But she never let go of her long-held dream to be a singer. One night she sang at the Mint Karaoke Bar up the road from the Writer's Grotto original space on Market Street, which started a chain of events which led to Tessa moving to New York.  There she started sitting in on jam sessions, before winning a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music, which she left to be mentored for four years by jazz vocal legend Mark Murphy, who says of her "she is a true musician, extraordinary and very moving
... completely captivating audiences." She describes the experience in her book, Anything I Can Do You Can Do Better, published by Random House-Vemilion UK, 2006.

Souter is a riveting live performer, inspiring standing ovations from Minsk to Moscow to New York's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola. To quote a live review [of her sold out return to the Rochester International Jazz Festival 2009]: "To say that Souter enchanted the audience would be an understatement .... The capacity crowd seemed to be transfixed by Souter's gorgeous voice and wonderful personality." (Rochester City Paper). "Better still, she delivers it all with a wit and a wink worthy of the toniest joints in town." (Time Out New York)


Tessa [right] at her 2007 Blue Note debut