Ranee Lee is now celebrating forty years in Montreal, Canada, where she enjoys a successful, multi-faceted career as one of Canada’s most popular jazz vocalists, an award-winning actress, a songwriter, and a proud author of children’s books. Ranee has recorded ten albums for Justin Time, a proud discography of acclaimed recordings that feature some of the finest jazz musicians of our time among its sidemen.
A Dora Mavor Moore Award winning actress, Ranee starred in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Canada’s first production of the musical portrayal of Billie Holiday. Her subsequent recording, Deep Song, featured label mate Oliver Jones and well as Milt Hinton, bassist with Billie Holiday. The recording was met with acclaim, bringing Ranee’s voice to the attention of jazz fans and concert producers throughout the world.
Ranee conceived, wrote and performed in the production Dark Divas, a musical about the lives of some of the most compelling women singers of the century. Further career highlights include acting opposite Billy Dee Williams in the movie Giant Steps; host of the television series “The Performers”, for the Black Entertainment Television network in the U.S. and BRAVO in Canada; her children’s book Nana What Do You Say?, inspired by her song of the same title, from the 1994 release, I Thought About You, and her appointment to the Order Of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour in 2006.
Other recordings include The Musicals: Jazz on Broadway, which was a successful marriage of jazz standards with the music of Broadway; I Thought About You, the first nominated recording for a Juno Award in the Best Mainstream Jazz category in 1995; and, with Oliver Jones, Just You, Just Me, which won a Toronto Urban Music Award November 2005.
In November 2007, Ranee recorded her tenth CD for the Justin Time label. Recorded live over two nights at acclaimed Montréal Jazz club – Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, Lives Upstairs offers up 10 tracks penned by the likes of Miles Davis, Pat Metheny,
James Taylor and Ranee herself (The Storm) that showcase her expressive, old-school, Sarah Vaughan-style vocals and growth as an artist. Lives Upstairs won the coveted Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album Of The Year 2010. In 2012 Justin Time decided to re-issue Deep Song – it was beautifully re-mastered (audiophile 96Khz 24 bit) and features additional bonus tracks, the result – Deep Song – A Tribute To Billie Holiday is breathtaking. Along with the Juno win – recent awards include one for appreciation and contribution to the development of the McGill Jazz program by the McGill Schulich School of Music, presented to Ranee Lee in October 2007, and The ACTRA award of Excellence for life achievement, in May 2008. As well in November 2010 Ranee received a MECCA nomination for her role in the Black Theatre Workshop production of “Swan Song For Maria.”
Ms. Lee is also an excellent and respected teacher. For outstanding service to jazz education, Ranee received the International Association of Jazz Educators award in 2004 and 2008.
As an educator, Ranee has been part of the University of Laval faculty in Quebec City for eight years, and The Schulich School of Music of McGill University faculty for over twenty years.
Throughout her career, Ranee has performed with many jazz notables, including Clark Terry, Terry Clarke, Bill Mayes, Herbie Ellis, Red Mitchell, Milt Hinton, Oliver Jones, John Bunch and George Arvanitas. Lee has toured with her own group throughout North America and abroad, performing at many prestigious jazz festivals.