Sarah McKenzie grew up in Australia, taking classical piano lessons from the age of five. A teacher introduced her to rock, the blues, and boogie-woogie when she was nine. “By the age of 15 I heard Oscar Peterson’s Night Train record and that was the turning point for me. It was such happy music that I knew that I wanted to do that with my life.” She also loved Gene Harris and Ahmad Jamal early on as she developed into a very skilled jazz pianist and a highly appealing singer. For a five-year period she worked 5-7 nights a week playing in clubs, hotels and at weddings, building up her repertoire and her individual musical style.
Sarah was inspired as a pianist-singer by Shirley Horn, Nat King Cole, Harry Connick Jr. and Blossom Dearie. “They all tell stories through their singing and listeners believe it due to their sincerity. They have inspired me to be most concerned with telling the story of the song and reaching listeners. Music is about evoking emotions and is meant to touch people.”
McKenzie was formerly trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and concluded with a Bachelor of Music. She won the Generations in Jazz Vocal scholarship, an Aria (Australian Grammy) and a Bell Award in Australia.
She first came to America in 2012 when she was awarded a full scholarship to Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA. She signed with the Impulse! label, went on tours worldwide, and realized one of her dreams by playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. She spent periods living and working in Paris and London, and she recorded five well-received albums: Don’t Tempt Me, Close Your Eyes, We Could Be Lovers, Paris In The Rain, and Secrets Of My Heart.
The release of ‘Without You’ will certainly add to Sarah McKenzie’s popularity and reputation as a creative jazz pianist and singer. Rather than simply recording a typical Brazilian heritage album, she reinvigorates the timeless music with fresh ideas and subtle surprises, adding to its legacy. Now based in Los Angeles but still traveling the world, Sarah McKenzie looks towards the future with enthusiasm. “I’ve grown to love touring and having new adventures making music. My love of Oscar Peterson, Michel Legrand, and Antonio Carlos Jobim has consistently inspired me to create and write new music, to perform classic songs with meanings that are important to listeners and to play with great feeling. The music is my mission.”