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Barbara Morrison: The Timeless Voice That Defines Jazz

October 2, 2023

Barbara Morrison: The Timeless Voice That Defines Jazz

Gabriela Novellino

In the world of jazz, few artists can captivate audiences with their voice and presence quite like Barbara Morrison. With a career spanning several decades, Morrison has become an iconic figure in the jazz community, known for her powerful and soulful vocals. In this blog post, we will delve into the life and career of this remarkable singer, exploring her early beginnings, rise to stardom, and enduring impact on the world of music.

The Early Years

Barbara Morrison was born on September 10, 1949, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. From a young age, she showed a deep passion for music, particularly jazz and blues. Her love for singing was evident, and she honed her vocal skills while performing in church choirs and school events. It wasn’t long before her remarkable talent began to shine through catching the attention of those around her.

The Move to Los Angeles

In her pursuit of her dreams, Barbara Morrison made a life-changing choice to move to Los Angeles, the hub of the jazz and entertainment world. It was there that she truly found her voice as a singer. Starting off in local clubs, she swiftly built a reputation for her captivating stage presence and distinctive vocal style.

Morrison’s versatility as a vocalist set her apart. She effortlessly moved between the diverse genres of jazz, blues, and gospel, wowing audiences with her impressive vocal range. This versatility proved to be a valuable asset as she continued to gain recognition in the music scene.

Rise to Stardom

Barbara Morrison’s career got exceptionally busy in the 1980s when she embarked on a whirlwind journey with the Philip Morris Superband. This exceptional opportunity took her across the globe, as she mesmerized audiences in Canada, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines. She also embarked on a memorable 33-city tour across the United States in an all-star tribute to composer Harold Arlen, where she not only showcased her extraordinary vocal talents but also solidified her status as a sought-after artist in the jazz world. It was during these travels that Barbara Morrison’s music transcended borders and touched the hearts of people worldwide.

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Leadership and Message

When asked about her role as a leader in the music community during a 2020 interview with SFCV, Barbara Morrison shared: “I encourage people, I advise anyone to contribute something artistic to society. My father taught me to always follow through because you don’t know what will happen.”

These words offer a glimpse into Barbara Morrison’s character and the values she holds dear. Her commitment to encouraging others to contribute artistically and her dedication to listening to others exemplify the kind of leader she is, not just in the world of music but in life as a whole.

Enduring Impact

Barbara Morrison’s contributions to the world of jazz go beyond her captivating performances. A passionate advocate for music education, she founded the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles where she provided countless aspiring musicians with the opportunity to develop their skills and pursue their own dreams in the world of music.

Her legacy as a jazz artist and educator continues to inspire generations of musicians. Her unique ability to blend jazz, blues, and gospel into a mesmerizing tapestry of sound has left an indelible mark on the genre. Morrison’s recordings remain timeless classics, and her live performances continue to move and delight audiences worldwide.


Barbara Morrison is not just a jazz singer; she is a living legend whose impact on the world of music is immeasurable. Her journey from a small town in Michigan to the global stage is a testament to her talent, determination, and unwavering passion for jazz. As she continues to share her remarkable voice and spirit with the world, we can only be grateful for the gift of music that she brings to our lives. Barbara Morrison is, without a doubt, a true jazz icon whose legacy will endure for generations to come.

For those who are passionate about jazz and wish to delve deeper into its world, there’s a unique opportunity to learn a special Soft Shoe Routine set to Barbara Morrison’s tune “Soft Winds.” Renowned choreographer, Chester Whitmore, has created a mesmerizing routine that beautifully complements Morrison’s music. You can explore this one-of-a-kind experience at iLindy, where the intersection of jazz music and dance comes alive, paying homage to the timeless artistry of Barbara Morrison. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the magic of jazz in a truly unforgettable way. Sign up for one of our subscriptions to access this special class and so much more!

Gabriela Novellino

Gabs started dancing in 1995 at four years old and has never stopped. While spending a year abroad in Leeds, UK in 2012, she discovered the dances of the Jazz Age, fell hopelessly in love, and decided to dedicate her life to this passion. She acts as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, researcher, dj and event organizer primarily in Brazil, Chile, and other South American scenes. She specializes mainly in Lindy Hop, Authentic Jazz, 1920s’ Charleston and Collegiate Shag. During the pandemic, Gabs has reinvented herself in order to bring people together through dance in an online format, by hosting online classes, sharing interesting information on social media and organizing big events, such as América Latina Swings. She is also a huge history geek and loves to dig deeper into the roots of Jazz music and dance. As a guest in the culture, she honors the opportunity to share the legacy and culture of Black American artists who created this art form.

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