WENDY MOTEN Timeless

 After years as a first call studio and touring backup singer, sharing her powerhouse vocals with audiences around the world and as a versatile force on the Nashville studio scene, Wendy Moten makes her highly anticipated return to center stage with her Woodward Avenue Records debut Timeless: Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting. Produced by two time Grammy winning urban jazz hit maker Paul Brown, the equally sensual and swinging 10 track collection celebrates the legacy of a 20th Century songwriting giant – whose works have been recorded by everyone from Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett – while showcasing Moten’s keen, crafty and often sassy musical storytelling abilities.

While Whiting (1891-1938) is best known for his enduring classics “Hooray For Hollywood,” “Ain’t We Got Fun” and “On The Good Ship Lollipop,” Moten explores the deeper artistry of his songbook that helped define the Jazz Age of the 1920s and the film musical era of the 1930s. Her goal was to pay homage not only to the man behind the songs – whose name is sometimes overlooked when people talk about the Great American Songbook era – but also to the thousands of vocal greats and musicians who have recorded them over the decades. These include easily recognizable master works like “Too Marvelous For Words” and “My Ideal” as well as more obscure gems (“It’s a long time between Kisses,” “I Wanna Go Places and Do Things,” and “True Blue Lou”) that Moten brings a fresh emotional urgency to.

Timeless was recorded live in the studio over the course of three days with a handpicked ensemble of some of contemporary jazz’s most renowned musicians. Complementing guitarist Tommy Kay and drummer Sinclair Lott, who perform on every track, are Mitchel Forman and Tracy Carter alternating on piano and Roberto Vally and Brian Bromberg switching off on bass. “Too Marvelous For Words” features Brown’s lead guitar and special guest saxophonist Dave Koz taps into his intimate side on the opening track “My Ideal.”

“The seeds of what truly evolved into a Timeless project were planted one night when I was having dinner with Paul, and telling him how I always loved and wanted to do an album paying tribute to Julie London and Doris Day,” says Moten, whose previous work with Brown (also an artist on Woodward Avenue) includes “All I Do,” the Stevie Wonder cover she recorded with Grammy Award winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s 1998 album For You.

“He knew me best as an R&B singer and thought it was just a whimsical kind of idea. But that conversation allowed me to share my love of standards with him. A few months later, the Richard Whiting Family and Mark Nordman, the owner of Woodward Avenue, commissioned Paul to produce a tribute album. He kindly thought of me and at first we were just thinking of having me as a featured vocalist on an otherwise instrumental recording. But soon it evolved into a full vocal project that allowed me to tap into this other side of my musical life that I had been dreaming of for years.”

Known affectionately in various industry circles as “The Voice,” Moten launched her multi-faceted career as a hit R&B/pop singer in the early 90s before becoming one of the industry’s premier backing vocalists and first call guest duet artists. The multi-talented Memphis born performer launched her career with a self-titled 1992 EMI album that included the ballad “Come In Out Of The Rain,” which reached the Top 5 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and later hit the Top Ten on the UK singles chart. The singer opened for Michael Bolton on his North American stadium tours and became popular in Japan when she performed sold-out concerts at the famed Budokan, hosted by David Foster and friends.

Foster produced two songs on Moten’s follow-up album Time For Change, which received rave reviews in the U.S. but was an even bigger hit in Japan and Europe. During this time, she also recorded the Grammy nominated “Whatever You Imagine” for the animated film “The Pagemaster” starring Macauley Culkin. After recording the holiday album Christmas Time, she returned in 1996 with her I.R.S. album Life Is What You Make It. She then diversified and launched a new phase of her career recording guest duets with everyone from Michael McDonald (“No Love To Be Found”) and Whalum to Peabo Bryson (“My Gift Is You”) and Larry Carlton (“I Still Believe”).

In 1999, she launched one of her most enduring ventures as a backing and featured duet vocalist touring the world with global superstar Julio Iglesias an average of nine months every year through 2011; she also recorded the duet “Just Walk Away” with him as a bonus track on his 2006 album Romantic Classics. An opportunity to sing with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on a TV show in 2006 led Moten to another long term gig working behind country’s power couple. While her time with Iglesias wrapped in 2011, the singer is still going strong with Faith & Tim, including tours and multiple performances at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

Moten’s subsequent renown in Nashville has made her a first call session singer for a multitude of top genre artists – including Brooks & Dunn, Hank Williams, Jr., Neal McCoy and Martina McBride, whom Moten will also be touring with in 2014. Her diverse range of studio credits includes Dave Stewart, Michael Lington, Alice Cooper, Bonnie Tyler, Buddy Guy, John Oates and Orianthi. Moten also released the independent holiday album Tis The Season in 2009.  Pre -orders  www.wendymoten.com

Radio: Michal Carlson mcpro@earthlink.net