Cassandre McKinley’s latest CD "Dragonfly" is now (by the time you read this) available for purchase from her website or downloadable from the iTunes Store. Why is this important? It’ll take only one listen to get the answer to that question.
Her style comes closest to that of (to my ears) singers like Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones in that she carefully straddles the line between jazz and pop without ever drifting too far to one side or the other. She can sing anything set in front of her, and sing it like she owns it. In this regard I would class her with Cassidy for her ability to take whatever song she’s handed and make her version sound like the definitive version - which is a neat trick and one run across very infrequently And if hearing her on this CD brings one pleasure, it makes attending a live show something to dream about.
Here she has picked a nice selection of tunes that showcase her range and abilities and McKinley navigates each one like the seasoned professional she is. But the one thing that grabbed my attention, and its the same trait that made Cassidy and Jones standout, is her ability to find a way to immerse herself in each song and find that ineffable something that makes each tune special when she sings it - as though you are hearing it for the first time. Makes repeated listens not only a must, but an enjoyable pursuit. - John Crossett/Aural Musings
"If you’re already a fan of Boston-based chanteuse Cassandre McKinley, much of this rich, sensual salute to the music of Marvin Gaye might ignite a feeling of déjà vu. Three years ago, the resourceful McKinley set about to self-release a Gaye tribute, picking from the cream of Massachusetts players to assemble a sextet and laying down 10 tracks either written by the Motown legend or strongly associated with him. It was entitled "Baring the Soul" and, like most self-managed releases, failed to generate anywhere near the attention it deserved. Now, MAXJAZZ has taken those 10 tracks, and added four, including a soulful cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “Yesterday,”.
Wisely, given her warm, caramel-flavored voice-rather like Carole King via Nancy Wilson, with a layer of Aretha Franklin icing - McKinley never attempts to get down to Gaye’s inimitable nitty-gritty. Instead, she cleverly inverts the essence of each tune, re-channeling them from a distinctly female perspective. So, her “Trouble Man” is less rumble and more sass, “I Want You” reverberates with a softly yearning starriness (sounding, with its easy samba vibe, like it was freshly plucked from the Brasil ’66 songbook) and, most notably, the straining sexual heat of Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” is transformed into five-and-a-half minutes of teasing foreplay. - Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes Magazine
“There’s a music style called jazzsoul (we made it up) and our anointed queen is Boston native Cassandre McKinley. The Boston Conservatory alum’s vocal influences include Anita O’Day, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Nancy Wilson, and Marvin Gaye; McKinley pays tribute to the latter in her debut album “Til Tomorrow — Remembering Marvin Gaye.” The singer’s version of “I Wish It Would Rain” is moving enough to bring precipitation to the desert - The Boston Globe
It is refreshing to hear Boston-based vocalist Cassandre McKinley providing this jazz-friendly tribute to Marvin Gaye. "Til Tomorrow: Remembering Marvin Gaye" is not straight-ahead jazz; what McKinley does on this 59-minute CD is best described as a mixture of jazz, R&B, and pop (with blues and gospel elements at times). But jazz is certainly an important part of the equation, and McKinley doesn't simply offer note-for-note covers of songs that the late soul icon recorded; she interprets them, offering plenty of delightful surprises along the way. "I Want You" and "After the Dance" receive bossa nova makeovers, and McKinley puts a post-bop spin on "Trouble Man" without sacrificing any of the song's bluesiness. "Let's Get It On" becomes surprisingly understated and torch-like in McKinley's hands, while "I Wish It Would Rain" is given an appealingly bluesy, folkish spin along the lines of Tracy Chapman. "I Wish It Would Rain" is one of the disc's least jazz-minded performances, but again, McKinley never claimed that Til Tomorrow was the work of a jazz purist. It is, however, an excellent example of a jazz-friendly vocalist acknowledging that great popular music didn't end with Tin Pan Alley. - Alex Henderson/ All Music Guide
Cassandre McKinley's new CD "BARING THE SOUL - The Music of Marvin Gaye" shows just how effective it can be to step back into one's past to reflect and rejoice in it's power - the power of influence, inspiration, idolology, spirituality - all of that which makes up who we are artistically. This CD showcases the bold, sexual appeal of Marvin Gaye through the eyes and ears of McKinley. She exudes the same sensuality and charm - the evidence of his influence is clear yet McKinley adds a certain magic - like pixie dust - she sprinkles it over and lends her own inner beauty to the work. Never have I come across a singer so magnetic - McKinley is all she's cracked up to be. She certainly has no problem baring her soulful voice. - B.Allen/JazzReview.com
You can hear Cassandre's music on Sirius XM, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio stations and her full catalog is available anywhere music is sold.