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Esther Haynes

Esther Haynes (photo) Esther Haynes is a versatile vocalist and rhythm guitarist residing in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Her styles range from vintage jazz to swing, blues, bossas, folk, and bluegrass. Since 2002, she has been nominated for several Washington Area Music Awards (Wammies) for Debut Recording, Jazz Vocalist, Big Band Vocalist, and Jazz Duo/Group. She has received eight Wammie awards for Big Band/Swing Vocalist (in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008) and Jazz Vocalist (in 2004, 2005, and 2008).

She has performed in the D.C. area with Hokum Jazz, Martini Red, the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, and several jazz duos and trios. Duo partners include Phil Mathieu, Justin Lees, Rusty Bogart, Keith Grimes, and J.C. Veve.

”...always with a sparkle in her voice.” -- David Nathan, All Music Guide

Originally from Virginia, Esther learned folk guitar and bluegrass banjo as a girl. She spent her college years at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, where she attended fiddlers' conventions, played banjo and guitar, and sang in duets at local events. Later she began studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating with honors with a diploma in voice and professional music. In Boston, she was part of a bluegrass/swing group, Boston City Limits, with Hiro Arita, Howie Tarnower, and Matt Glaser, and played in a duo with ragtime guitarist Larry Unger. She has recorded with guitarist John Dirac of Boston's Either Orchestra. She also spent two years in Israel (1991 to 1993), where she sang in a quartet with guitarist David Matarasso and in the Southern Comfort Duo.

“Esther Haynes has a powerful yet playful approach, one that puts the listener on edge and at ease all at once. “ -- Chesapeake Bay Music Guide

In 2001, she recorded her debut CD, Esther Haynes, of vintage vocal tunes in tribute early jazz singers such as Alberta Hunter, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Lil Green, Ella Fitzgerald, and Memphis Minnie. Appearing on this CD are Nevada Newman, Akira Otsuka, Tad Marks, J.C. Veve, Seth Kibel and others. The CD received favorable local and online press, as well as airplay on Rob Bamberger's "Hot Jazz Saturday Night" (WAMU) and Mary Cliff's "Traditions" program (WETA). Esther also has been heard on Elliott Gross' blues program on WPFW.

“Esther Haynes sings with the same kind of feeling that characterized those seminal blues singers of years gone past.” -- All About Jazz

In 2004, Esther released her second CD, Approach Note, which includes standards, swing, and bossas. The CD features vocals and jazz guitar by Justin Lees (who now resides in NYC), and Nick Smiley on acoustic bass.

In 2013, she released Moon Country, blending Hoagy Carmichael, moon tunes, and southern tunes in a variety of styles such as jazz standard, country blues, vaudeville, western swing, and bossa.

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