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Not to be confused with R&B great LaVern Baker, LaVerne Butler is a superb but underexposed jazz singer whose main influences include Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughan. Butler is originally from Shreveport, LA, where she grew up listening to jazz and R&B extensively with a lot of encouragement from her father, saxophonist Scott Butler. After leaving Shreveport, she moved to New Orleans, where she studied music at the University of New Orleans and become a fixture in the city's Dixieland and bebop venues. Butler worked with such distinguished locals as Alvin Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler (no relation), and James Black before deciding to move to the New York area in 1984. Butler studied with Jon Hendricks after arriving in New York and later earned her living as an English teacher while tackling the Manhattan club world. The early to mid-'90s found Butler signed to Chesky, for which she provided her bop-oriented debut album, No Looking Back (1992), and her lighter, more relaxed sophomore release, Day Dreamin' (1994). After leaving Chesky, Butler planned to record an album for Herbie Mann's Kokopelli label in 1997, but her plans fell through when the company experienced financial problems. 1999 saw the release of her third album, Blues in the City. ~ Alex Henderson