Sue MatthewsView in iTunes
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Like Eden Atwood and the late Susannah McCorkle, Sue Matthews is a very accessible jazz singer who incorporates cabaret and traditional pop elements. Matthews, who lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, has a clean, crystal-clear, pretty sort of voice; she isn't a rugged, hard-edged singer à la Ernestine Anderson or Carmen McRae. Nonetheless, Matthews swings, and she brings a lot of blues feeling to her work. She has a big, full voice and an impressive range; for all the vulnerability that she displays, Matthews will never be accused of sounding like a waif. In fact, one can hear how she has been affected by some aspects of Ella Fitzgerald's singing, specifically, the softer, more caressing side that Fitzgerald often displayed on ballads (although Matthews isn't as forceful or as gritty as Fitzgerald could be on uptempo material). Some listeners have compared Matthews to Diane Schuur, but while Schuur's focus is traditional pop (of the pre-rock variety), Matthews' is essentially an improvising jazz singer (which isn't to say that she is a purist). And even though she is cabaret-influenced, Matthews does not get into the type of stereotypically campy lyrics that some modern cabaret artists are known for. To put it bluntly, Matthews (like Atwood and McCorkle) has the good taste to steer clear of cornball lyrics. Matthews' first solo album, Love Dances, was released on the small SIR Records in 1991, and her second SIR release, When You're Around (which the East Coast singer co-produced with acoustic pianist Stefan Scaggiari), came out in 1993. After that, Matthews remained active in the Washington, DC area and toured Europe, but didn't record any more solo albums until the early 2000s. One at a Time, her third solo album, was released by Renata Music in July 2002. In addition to having a solo career, Matthews sings with a Maryland-based group called Guys & Doll, whose other members have included Tom McHugh (vocals, banjo, trumpet, kazoo), Bill Matthews (vocals, guitar), Tom Anthony (acoustic bass), and Ethan Hannigan (fiddle). Formed in 1996, Guys & Doll have toured Europe extensively, and those overseas performances are the focus of their CD Live in Ireland. ~ Alex Henderson