Remember the name Brandee Younger. The young twenty- something has more talent in her pinky finger than some popular artists could ever imagine possible for themselves. That is no slight to anyone in particular; she really is that good. A classically trained musician who has made a name for herself by regularly performing with some of the biggest names and brightest stars in jazz, hip hop, and R&B, Younger is such a creative force that she manages to make her instrument sound as though it’s right where it belongs no matter the setting.
Quincy Jones, Robert Glasper, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Trombone Shorty, and Cindy Blackman-Santana are just a few artists who have successfully crossed over into other genres of music, but Younger’s journey between musical worlds is a bit more interesting. She’s making things happen on an instrument that has become synonymous with classical music: the harp.
The native New Yorker earned degrees in Harp Performance and Music Business from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music and a Master of Arts from New York University (NYU). During her time at the Hartt School, Younger strengthened her connection to jazz music by building protégé-mentor relationships with members of the University’s jazz faculty including Nat Reeves, Steve Davis, and the legendary Jackie McLean. The men supported and encouraged Younger along her musical path leading her to pursue professional opportunities that went on to shape her development as an artist. Her exposure to the music of Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby—two celebrated, harp-playing genre- benders in their own right—not only helped cement her love for the harp, but it also helped her realize what was possible creatively.
In addition to the professional relationship she had already established with Coltrane’s son, saxophonist Ravi, Younger worked diligently to develop her own sound while also working to keep Coltrane’s and Ashby’s legacies alive. After years as a side musician for artists including Coltrane, Charlie Haden, Kenny Garrett, Bill Lee, Jack DeJohnette, Reggie Workman, Wycliffe Gordon, and Butch Morris, Younger released her debut EP titled Prelude in 2011, to much (but not nearly enough) fanfare. The four songs included on the recording were beautifully written and performed bringing to light the depths of Younger’s talents. Mercedes Benz was so impressed with Younger’s work that they selected her single “So Alive” for inclusion on their Mercedes Benz Mixtape. Not bad for an independent artist.
Younger performs regularly in and around New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland/metro DC. For more information on her upcoming schedule, go to http://brandeeyounger.com/itinerary/