The Unknown Poet and his musical soul-mate Queen have built a solid reputation as two of the premier spoken word artists and lyrical hook masters on the artistic scene today. Through countless live performances, their CD's, radio interviews and video presentations, they shine!
This duo's smooth jazzy style and heartfelt delivery are legendary on the poetry and jazz scene and beyond. They have been writing and reciting poetry for over 25 years, coming forth with a style and delivery that is totally their own. These are two spiritual jazzy magnets, touched with poetic genius, delivering thought provoking words that stir the listeners heart, mind and soul, as they share their insightful message of musical truth,..with a historical cultural flavor.
Anyone who is blessed with an opportunity to listen to or experience the live or recorded presentations of these wordsmiths will be moved by their Jazzy spoken style like you never would have imagined.
Both TUP and Queen were born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They were children of the 50's. They have been together for 36 years. The Unknown Poet in particular was exposed to a diverse array of live music at a very young age. He also had music lessons and was a member of the drum line in high school. At the impressionable age of 9 years old he was introduced to the sounds of the jazz legends such as Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Sarah, Lady Day and Art Blakey just to name a few. He spent most weekends with his uncle Tex and his cousin Tex jr. listening to jazz,..playing checkers and trying to play the stand up bass that stood in the corner of the apartment.
The summers on the North Side of Atlantic City came alive with all kinds of music playing in the numerous black owned clubs, two of which LiL' Rossi Lee aka the Unknown Poet spent a lot of time in, absorbing a diverse range of music. One was the famous Club Harlem which his grand-pop had an interest in, and the Wonder Garden which his uncle Bobby Bell owned.
From the age of 13 to 25 he spent every summer night on the strip around Kentucky and Arctic Avenues in Atlantic City. He first shined shoes..then worked at Sapps Barbecue, until he eventually landed a job at the place he loved, Club Harlem washing dishes, waiting tables, taking pictures, to eventually being in the audience, backstage and sometimes even at the daytime rehearsals running errands for the artists and absorbing the musical vibration.
He says that he is blessed to have witnessed first hand some of those legendary artists of that era and that they've all left a great impression on him and have helped shape him as a,.. poet/vocalist/spoken word/jazz artist. He is forever grateful for this exposure,..for it surely has shaped him musically, poetically and personally. Queen has been rolling with the Poet for 36 years _We Blessed...~
Quickly becoming one of the most buzzed about jazz singers on the New York scene, Marianne Solivan does not remember an “ah-ha” moment that brought her to the music she has devoted herself to: “I don’t recall having a big moment that made me like jazz. I just dug it.”
It is that same simplicity of statement with its intrinsic honesty that characterizes Solivan’s style. The infallible swing of Ella, the daring of Betty Carter, the matter-of factness of Carmen McCrae…They can all be found in the voice of Marianne Solivan, whom trumpeter Jeremy Pelt has called “the modern-day paradigm to which all singers should aspire.”
It is no coincidence that the 2009 Jazzmobile Vocal Competition finalist has graced recital halls, jam sessions and club stages with such noted musicians as Roy Hargrove, Steve Lacy, Jeremy Pelt, Ray Gallon (Ron Carter, Lionel Hampton, T.S. Monk), Ugonna Ukegwo (Tom Harrell, Jacky Terrason) and Jane Monheit’s sidemen Neal Minor and Michael Kanan.
Born in Queens, New York, Solivan’s family lived in Venezuela and New Jersey before settling in Massachusetts, where she attended high school. Already an alto sax student, it was in secondary school that she began singing seriously, studying classical voice and appearing in musical theater productions. Upon graduating, she entered The Boston Conservatory with a concentration in musical theater. After her first year in college, Solivan took time off from school and drifted away from singing, not returning for three years. The urge to resume studying voice and go back to school coincided with her discovery of the voice that would become her greatest influence: Ella Fitzgerald.
She recalls, “I purchased the four oddest recordings for a jazz newcomer: one of those Ella Fitzgerald songbook compilations, a Dominique Eade recording, Nina Simone Sings The Blues and At the Village Vanguard: Betty Carter. Fitzgerald, especially, made a great impression on her: “There’s such tremendous hopefulness in all her music. No matter how sad the ballad, no matter how bad the break-up song, there’s always a silver lining. “
Solivan was singing pop when she entered Berklee College of Music, but quickly decided she wanted to learn this music called jazz. Earning a dual degree in Music Performance and Education, she taught music for a year before entering New England Conservatory and earning a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies.
Armed with two prestigious degrees and formidable talent, Solivan moved back to the city of her birth in 2007, placing in the Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, appearing as the only featured vocalist on clarinetist Darryl Harper’s The C3 project recording, Stories in Real Time, and touring France as the lead vocalist in an innovative staging of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Solivan is as likely to pop up at jazz institution Smalls Jazz Club with a full band as she is an intimate restaurant with only a piano accompanist. Regardless, jazz lovers and musicians alike are captivated by her sound and her style. Not all are able to articulate what attracts them as well as Pelt. Ultimately, they just dig it.
To visit Marrianne Solivan's website CLICK HERE
Clay Corley Sr.
My name is Clayton E. Corley, Sr. aka Big Trigger host and producer of an award winning internet program!