Sarah Vaughan on the radio at the age of 9, Washington, D.C. native Sunny Sumter knew that the life of a jazz singer was her future. After attending Washington's renowned Duke Ellington High School, she went on to Howard University to earn a music degree. Private studies from pianist/composer Geri Allen and drummer/vocalist Grady Tate were the icing on Sumter's educational cake. While at Howard, she worked at local clubs and in 1992, took a short tour of Europe. Sumter shared the stage at the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival with David Sanchez, Jason Marsalis, Mimi Fox and Pamela Williams. 1998 was a break through year. She opened for Shirley Horn and Dee Dee Bridgewater at D.C.'s Lincoln Theater, toured Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg), performed at Camelot Jazz Club in Tel Aviv and at the LaVilla Jazz Club in Paris. Returning to the US, Sumter was at Sanford University with modern trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Sumter was also a guest on a BET Jazz Central show hosted by Ramsey Lewis. Sumter's debut recording was Getting to Know You and her latest Sunny, on the Mapleshade label, features an eclectic program of ballads performed and/or composed by Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Stevie Wonder. With influences as disparate as Sarah Vaughan, Phyllis Hyman, and Kate Bush along with a warm, deep and soulful voice, Sumter has all the musical tools to become a legitimate jazz diva.
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