New music spotlight: Robin Barnes

Published on: September 13th, 2016

Robin Barnes at Jazz Fest 2015 [Photo by Kichea S. Burt]

Robin Barnes at Jazz Fest 2015 [Photo by Kichea S. Burt]
Robin Barnes at Jazz Fest 2015 [Photo by Kichea S. Burt]

New Orleans songstress Robin Barnes's lastest EP, Songbird Sessions, is a perfect marriage of moving contemporary jazz and soul. Barnes grew up in the Lower 9th Ward amidst a household of musicians with her family's jazz band, The Soul Heirs, and counts Dave Barhtolomew, one of the most influential New Orleans ever, as her cousin.

Her start in music came where many of great singers begin-- at church. “Growing up, all the children at my church were encouraged to join choir,” says Barnes. “The first mass after my mom made me join (yes, she made me), I was given a solo in ‘Ave Maria.’ I closed my eyes and sung my heart out and when I opened them, I only looked at my mother. She was crying along with the rest of the congregation. That’s when I realized how moving music was and that I wanted to sing for the rest of my life.”

Barnes's deeply emotional voice lends itself well to her chosen songs for this 5-track EP. The heartfelt 'The Way Young Lovers Do' displays Barnes's impressive range, as does her beautiful version of 'My Funny Valentine.' The lighter 'Little Jazz Bird' is wonderful morning listening. Barnes's band provides perfect accompaniment on 'Great Day.' The EP closes with Barnes taking on soulful touches of Irma Thomas on 'Ruler of My Heart.'

Songbird Sessions debuted at #5 on the Traditional Jazz Billboard charts and Barnes has been racking up local accolades, as well. She's a New Orleans Tourism Ambassador, was voted Favorite New Orleans Musician by New Orleans Magazine, and was named "artist to watch" in The Gambit in 2015. Nationally, she's been featured on ESPN and BET and in Forbes, Southern Living, and more.

Songbird Sessions is available on mp3 and CD from iTunes and Amazon. Check out her performance of the classic 'Summertime' below.


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