Diane Schuur, who has sometimes been on the periphery of jazz, balances her importance as a dedicated jazz singer with the inclusion of a large dose of pop tunes in her repertoire. Early in her career she had the tendency to screech in her upper register, but with maturity that flaw has largely disappeared and she has become a very impressive singer. Blinded at birth due to a hospital accident, Schuur (who would later be nicknamed "Deedles") imitated singers as a child. She had her first gig at a Holiday Inn when just ten years old and originally sang country music. The turning point in her career occurred when she sang "Amazing Grace" at the 1979 Monterey Jazz Festival, greatly impressing Stan Getz. After Getz featured her singing at a televised concert from the White House in 1982, Schuur was signed to GRP and began recording regularly.
Her 1986 release Timeless and 1987's Diane Schuur with the Count Basie Orchestra both won Grammys for best Female Jazz Performance. She has been nominated three more times in the ensuing years. Schuur has had staying power as an artist; she's released no less than 18 albums (not including compilations) for a number of labels, including GRP, Concord, Telarc, and Vanguard, and continues to tour internationally. While her recordings tend to walk the line between contemporary and mainstream jazz, she is critically regarded as a quintessential jazz singer who is celebrated by critics and music fans across the spectrum. Her 2011 album, The Gathering (Schuur's debut for Vanguard), features thoroughly soulful modern jazz interpretations of ten classic country songs (as a not so subtle tribute to Ray Charles' own groundbreaking Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music). Her piano and backing band are augmented by guest appearances from Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler, Kirk Whalum, and Larry Carlton. ~ Scott Yanow & Thom Jurek