born November 18, 1928
- Crossing - Sheila Jordan Folk
Sheila Jordan is one of the most engaging and creative jazz vocalists alive today. Known for her breathy, unusual voice and her superb vocalese, Sheila began performing professionally in the 1940s when she, Skeeter Spight, and Leroi Mitchell formed the trio Skeeter, Mitch and Jean. Despite being underage, she often hung around the Detroit clubs where Bird played and eventually gained his attention, resulting in Bird sometimes asking her trio to sing at his gigs. Her recording career took off in the 1960s, during which time she began long-standing collaborations with artists like Steve Kuhn and Lee Konitz.
She became the artist-in-residence at City College in 1974 and began teaching there in 1978--a position she held until 2005. It was not until the late 1970s that Sheila began to garner recognition in the jazz scene, recording with artists like pianist Carla Bley and bassists Steve Swallow and Harvie Swartz. In 2012, she received the highest honor in jazz, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award. She continues to perform and record today, serving as an icon and role model for jazz singers everywhere.