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Curtis Stigers

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After a brief detour as an international pop star, Curtis Stigers is back to his first love: jazz. With his second Concord release, 'Secret Heart,' Curtis fulfills the promise of his youth and establishes himself as a world-class vocalist and song interpreter. 'Secret Heart' is the natural progression of a life distinguished both by remarkable success and a commitment to songcraft.

A rich and expressive voice is the centerpiece of 'Secret Heart.' On this new disc, Curtis masterfully delivers a diverse mix of originals and selections from acclaimed songwriters such as Steve Earle, Randy Newman, Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer. On "Hometown Blues," Stigers succeeds in the challenge of restyling a Steve Earle song into a spirited and swinging rave up. The album title track, 'Secret Heart' is a poignant reinterpretation of a ballad from Ron Sexsmith, the critically acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter. As a teenager in Boise, Idaho, Stigers apprenticed with the late pianist Gene Harris-who had settled there after a distinguished career as bandleader of The Three Sounds and performer with jazz legends including Stanley Turrentine and Nat Adderly.

Stigers set off in 1987 for New York City. He began a regular engagement at Wilson's on Manhattan's Upper West Side, which led to a recording contract with Arista Records. His self-titled debut, released in 1991, sold nearly 2 million copies and spawned several hit singles, including the self-penned top 10 "I Wonder Why." In support of the album, Stigers appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, and toured the world with artists including Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and Rod Stewart. His sophomore release, 1995's 'Time Was,' further explored pop and soul, and the singer also scored a major success in 1992 with the Nick Lowe song "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," included on the soundtrack to The Bodyguard - one of the best selling recordings in history.

Curtis was not content to confine himself to popular music, and his yearnings put him at odds with Arista. Freed from his contract, he made guest appearances on recordings with artists such as Al Green, Julia Fordham, Jules Shear, and Suzzy Roche, and contributed tracks to the Carole King tribute album 'Tapestry Revisited' and the Grammy nominated 'Bleecker Street-Greenwich Village in the '60s.' Moving to Columbia Records, Stigers' 1999 release 'Brighter Days' found the singer exploring singer/songwriter territory, featuring writing collaborations with Carol King, Jules Shear and others.

At this time Stigers also reconnected with his jazz roots, appearing on albums by mentor Gene Harris and The Doky Brothers. He has appeared with such jazz luminaries as Toots Thielemans, Randy Brecker, Cleo Laine, Jimmy Scott, Chuck Mangione, Frank Wess, Brother Jack McDuff, Ernie Watts, and Red Holloway. His first release for Concord, the 2001 release 'Baby Plays Around,' found the singer covering jazz standards with aplomb, earning raves from critics: "a jazz singer in the best sense," said the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mojo agreed, "Stigers manages to be both as authoritative as a veteran and as fresh as an ingenue."

With 'Secret Heart,' Stigers has brought all his experiences and successes to bear. Says Stigers, "Reinterpreting songs, trying to bring unique influences into my own songwriting - it's what I'm best at, and what I love." If this latest work is any indication, Curtis Stigers will be doing what he loves well for many years to come.

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