Jazz Vocalist of the Year & Mobo Nominated: Cleveland Watkiss 2017
Internationally renowned vocalist won the London Jazz Award for Best Vocalist in 2010, and was voted Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards best vocalist for three consecutive years.
Watkiss was born in Hackney, East London, to Jamaican parents. Watkiss was one of the co-founders of the vastly influential Jazz Warriors big band. His vocals can be heard on their debut album, Out of Many People.
Watkiss has performed with a diverse range of artists from around the world, including: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Carlinos Brown, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Dylan, Thurston Moore, Art Blakey, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, Keith Richards, Bheki Mseleku, Fabio & Grooverider, William Parker, the James Taylor Quartet, Sly & Robbie, Nigel Kennedy, Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, The Who, George Martin, Julian Joseph, Black Top, the London Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Orchestra, Cassandra Wilson, Louis Moholo, and the London Community Gospel Choir, Hamid Drake, & Project 23, Goldie. More recently, demonstrating great versatility, Cleveland was cast as the starring role in Julian Joseph’s, two groundbreaking jazz operas, Bridgetower and Shadowball, to considerable acclaim.
In June last year he performed with vibraphonist Orphy Robinson at Freedom: The Art of Improvisation Festival at The Vortex, performing their project Duke Joint. Also with a project London-Chicago Vibration in Nov’ at the London Jazz Festival, a 50th anniversary tribute to the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) led by multi-percussionist Orphy Robinson and an all-star band of UK-based improvisers including legendary drummer Louis Moholo vibist Corey Mwamba and saxophonist Jason Yarde.