Marilyn Scott was born and raised in Arcadia, California. She was deeply influenced by her mother who was a classical pianist and singer. Marilyn was 11 when her mother died and the sudden silence was more than she could bear. In a way, she strongly believes that her passion for music was stoked by the loss. "What I heard from my mother absolutely ignited me," she shares. "Without her, I missed music so much that I turned to radio. I listened to jazz, R&B and pop. They all melded into one for me. I was determined to succeed in music and put myself in situations to be around great musicians that would push me to be my best.
After graduating high school, Marilyn moved to the Bay Area in Northern California where she sang in Top 40 bands. "In those days you had to do 4 or 5 sets a night. You had to know a wide range of music. And the cats turned me on to great jazz. That really shaped where I wanted to go." She met members of the soul band Tower of Power and did her first sessions singing background. She had a particularly soulful voice and wound up being hired as the only white member of the cast for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. musical, Selma. Soon after, she recorded a single for the Atco label which led to her debut album, Dreams of Tomorrow (1979).
Marilyn's first jazz gig followed shortly after the release of this album - a writing job with a young Russell Ferrante that turned into a friendship and creative partnership that has lasted to this day. "Whenever I wanted to write, he always found room to explore that with me," Marilyn reflects. "He was very generous with his time which allowed me to find myself. The same goes for others I've been fortunate to work with such as George Duke, Brenda Russell and Bobby Caldwell."
Over the course of ten previous albums plus contributions to movie soundtracks (including a lovely rendition of "Skylark" for the film Torch Song Trilogy), Marilyn Scott has been happily hard to pigeonhole. She has had a Quiet Storm classic with her song "I'll Be Loving You" (from her sophomore album, Without Warning - 1983). Her `90s CDs Take Me With You and Avenues of Love yielded two Top 10 smooth jazz/adult contemporary radio hits in "I'm Calling You" and "The Last Day." Her cover of "The Look of Love" was nominated for a Grammy. She has worked with world class musicians in the jazz and Brazilian worlds of music, including pianist Patrice Rushen, bassists Brian Bromberg and Jimmy Haslip, drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Terri Lyne Carrington, guitarist Dori Cayymi, saxophonist Steve Tavaglione and percussionist Lenny Castro. In 2005, she earned the distinction of being the only artist to place two albums on Billboard's charts simultaneously for 14 weeks: Handpicked on the Contemporary Jazz and Nightcap (produced by George Duke) on the Traditional Jazz.
Beyond the music, Marilyn opened her own on-line store of all organic clothing for first-year babies called Starting Green. Once again, family inspired her to make this conscientious move.
"I was at a function held by LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) where I learned about different factions of environmentally conscious businesses. It got me thinking about doing something to help sustain my life but in a healthy way. My niece had a baby and kept talking about the problems she had finding suitable clothes. I started looking into organic fabric (where no pesticides or chemicals are used in the growing) to make clothes. In the first year of a baby's life, their pores are so open, which is why they're so vulnerable to allergies. It's so important that the clothes they wear so close to their skin are as pure as possible."
Though Starting Green was also a needed income stream during this time when music is more challenging than ever to make a living in exclusively, Ms. Scott has been incredibly fulfilled by the progressive thinking and unity her clothing company inspires. "Working with all these people from every ethnic background - the farmers, pattern makers, cutters, embroiderers - really excites me. It's about more than making clothes. It's about people's lifestyles and making sure they have work right here in the U.S. This company has benefited me, the people I work with AND the people who buy our clothes. Once you start changing things for your baby, you'll change things for you, too."
Reflecting on how her organic jazz album Every Time We Say Goodbye will be embraced by jazz purists, Marilyn shares, "I don't like to play it safe. My last jazz album, Innocent Of Nothing, was more adventurous. This one is more subdued. People will say this is the album I should have done all along for radio's sake, but you can't make records for radio. You make what you love and hope they embrace it. Now I want a chance to be in front of an audience and show them who I am."
Marilyn hopes to bring the music to audiences worldwide. In Japan, where it will be released first, Marilyn already has a fan base from the numerous albums she's released there, as well as touring with artists like Ned Doheny and Bobby Caldwell and headlining her own solo tour. She had an exclusive U.K. release (2003's I'm In Love Once Again). And then there are her American admirers.
Biography courtesy of Marilyn Scott