March 16, 2015

Meet the artist: Jazz crooner Denzal Sinclaire

This weekend at the RPO will be “Unforgettable,” as we welcome Canadian vocalist Denzal Sinclaire

for an evening of Nat King Cole’s greatest hits under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik. Cole was a celebrated African American singer and jazz pianist who produced many hit records from the 1940s until his death in 1965. Cole favored big band and jazz styles of music, and his hits such as “L-O-V-E,” “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” and “Mona Lisa” remain popular today. Like Cole, Sinclaire is also a vocalist and pianist who has performed on television and in concert halls around the world. He is a multiple nominee of the Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy Award), a recipient of the 2004 National Jazz Award for “Best Album,” four-time consecutive recipient of Jazz Report Magazine's Award for Male Jazz Vocalist, and France’s 2007 Chocman Award.

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We caught up with Denzal Sinclaire to learn more about Cole’s influence on his career and what he is most looking forward to this weekend at the RPO!

Denzal Sinclaire
Hometown: Toronto, ON.
Current Town: Toronto, ON.

Can you share one of your early memories as a performer?
In Grade 2, I was a last minute substitute for the lead in a skit based on “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” song. I had a lot of fun and can remember how natural it felt even though it was my first acting experience.

How did you learn about the music of Nat King Cole? Why do you respect his work as an artist?
I used to listen to my dad’s records when I was growing up. Among them were a few Nat King Cole
albums. I loved the sound of his voice and would sing along, trying to emulate his tone.

Would you consider yourself a Cole impersonator, or something more unique?
I’m not a Nat King Cole impersonator, but the influence is evident.

What’s your favorite song on this weekend's program?
I don’t have a favorite song, but my favorite moment in the program is a solo violin and orchestra feature in Jeff Tyzik’s exquisite arrangement of “Smile.”

Do you have any pre-performance rituals? How do you prepare for a concert?
I usually meditate and do vocal exercises before the concert. I also avoid speaking too much.

If you go
Denzal Sinclaire sings the Nat King Cole Songbook
Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 8 PM
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Tickets start at $19
Visit or call 585-454-2100, tickets also available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office (433 East Main Street, Rochester) and at any area-Wegmans. 

Video: Denzal Sinclaire performs the jazz standard "You and the Night and the Music."


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