"...both technically brilliant and emotionally bold..."
"Ms. Charles has a soulfully articulate vocal style, a mix of strong projection and subtle detail...she connects deeply with her band, which has Jesse Elder on piano and keyboards, Burniss Earl Travis II on bass and John Davis on drums."
- Nate Chinen (NY Times)
"...Genre of one...Charles...is fully in control, and figures to be for a very long time."
- Joe Tangari (DownBeat)
"Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a vocalist on the rise, riding the momentum of two phenomenal previous releases: 2012’s RED and 2015’s Inner Dialogue. Those projects wedded Charles’ acute melodic sensibility to her incisive sociopolitical analysis, and on her latest release, Free Of Form, she strengthens those connections even more."
"It takes a lot of guts to cover a track like "Zombie", and Sarah Elizabeth Charles has gifted us with the best version since the original."
"Trying to categorize or label vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a futile pursuit. Is she a hypnotic modern jazz vocalist? Is she a neo-soul experimentalist with jazz and R&B inflections oozing from her vocal chords? Is she an incredible talent, bewitching and beguiling with her every vocal gesture? Is she all of that, yet something completely different and unique? The answer to all four questions is the same: absolutely."
- Dan Bilawsky (All About Jazz)
"On her 2012 debut EP, Red, vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles delivered an impassioned blend of jazz, neo-soul, r&b and world music that revealed an emerging artist with a nuanced delivery and a poetic ear. On her sophomore effort, Inner Dialogue, she returns to that fertile ground with renewed ambition and a vivid imagination. The resulting album proves why she is one of today’s most dynamic young vocalists."
- Brian Zimmerman (DownBeat)
"Love is music’s most common topic, but Sarah Elizabeth Charles and her band, the S.E. Charles Quartet, deftly breathe new life into the well-tread subject. Backed by pianist Jesse Elder, bassist Burniss Earl Travis II and drummer John Davis, Charles’ pure, poignant, unadulterated vocals, lyrics and compositions lead the way as the band firmly grasps an unmatched sound – to plainly dub it jazz would be rude. While they showcased tight chemistry on Red...SCOPE's...first recording together, Charles, along with guest band member, co-producer and trumpeter Christian Scott, produce their sophomore piece, Inner Dialogue, and successfully challenge creativity once again."
- Quinn Peterson (Life+Times)
"Sarah Elizabeth Charles is an exhilarating vocalist who clearly rises above the field. Every time she appears on a project of someone else’s, in some new configuration, or releasing work of her own, it’s a breath of fresh air and a reminder of how great and inspiring music can really be."
- Anthony Dean-Harris (The Art of Cool Project)
"The album, which Charles co-produced with trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, is soulfully moving. It inhabits a spot in jazz, soul, and R&B that isn’t afraid of veering too far in any of these directions, ultimately embracing something that’s larger than any of these parts on their own...What results is one of the best soul jazz albums of the first quarter of 2015, and it’s entirely capable of holding the title all the way through. Inner Dialogue is an achievement you’ll be spinning on repeat for quite a while."
- Anthony Dean-Harris (The Art of Cool Project)
“Sarah Elizabeth Charles uses the full range and timbre of her voice to improvise in a way that often sounds more like a synth than a voice, and does it so naturally that one is reminded of the most talented freestylers.” - Adam Gardner (CultureMob)
“For some, life holds many interests and many routes to get to many different places. For vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles, the duality of her interests –music, sociology, sports, politics — has begun to inform her songwriting and artistry to the point where she has become something very special and intriguing. Her music is informed by her social interactions and thus by extension society. While most music is arguably reflective of culture, Charles holds the often fleeting ability to discuss her music intellectually and takes an active interest in the continual study of both music and life.” - Eric Sandler (Revive Music)
“Listening to [Sarah Elizabeth] Charles’ impressively in-tune vocals is like chewing an inexhaustibly sweet piece of gum – Ms. Charles’ voice periodically injects the group’s sound with an extra burst of flavor, utilizing highly varied syllables, timbres, and dynamics to keep the audience’s attention piqued.” - Jeremy Siskind
“Not only does Charles work as the vocalist, but her singing is also very much used as an instrument in a jazz context, whether she’s emulating a flute, bass, or guitar. While some might hear this as limiting, I think a lot of times it’s the best jazz singers that show how they are fully capable of singing anything and everything passed their way…” – This is Book’s Music
“The S.E.Charles Quartet is one of those rare hidden gems…The future of live, original music is safe the capable hands of Jesse Elder (piano), Burniss Earl Travis (bass), John Davis (drums), and Sarah Elizabeth Charles.” - Adam Gardner (CultureMob)
"Sarah Elizabeth Charles is one of these studied modern musicians who is going beyond the curriculum. Her debut CD, "Red" (Truth Revolution Records) is pleasantly provocative. It is an acoustic jazz vocal recording, however, it's so much more. Charles has a crystal clear voice and impeccable phrasing. It's very accessible, however, her musical sensibilities are quite wild and free. Secondly, and this might be what marks the significance of this recording (as well as the trend among the younger vocalists I hear nowadays)is that Charles is not afraid of her band! Let them play! And she does. It's a musical collaboration, rather than "Hey, guys, this is MY freaking gig!" The team effort makes for better music. Pianist/keyboardist Jesse Elder, bassist Burniss Earl Travis, and drummer John Davis are playing on this CD like it's a gig and not like it's a singer's gig." – George Colligan (Jazz Truth)
Sarah Elizabeth Charles
Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a vocalist/composer based in New York City. She has worked and studied with artists such as Christian Scott, George Cables, Geri Allen, Nicholas Payton and Sheila Jordan and has released three critically acclaimed albums with her band, SCOPE between 2012 and today. As the active vocalist in a number of bands (including SCOPE, Ajoyo, duo with Jarrett Cherner, Jesse Fischer's projects and Transient Beings) Charles has performed at many venues throughout her career. These have included The White House, Carnegie Hall, the first annual Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, The Kennedy Center, the Rose Theatre with Jazz at Lincoln Center and many more. She has also had a commissioned composition performed at The National Gallery in Washington D.C. via The Canales Project "Hear Her Song" initiative.
In addition to her performances, Charles is an active educator as well. She works as a teaching artist with Carnegie Hall’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility and Future Music Project youth workshops, has a private lessons studio in New York City, is an adjunct professor at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music teaching a course she designed called "Jazz and Gender" and has developed an early childhood music education program with Rise2Shine, a non-profit organization based in Fond Parisien, Haiti. In 2019, she was one of five recipients of the Yale School of Music's Distinguished Teaching Artist Award. In 2020, she was selected to be one of five members of the Joe's Pub Working Group, as a recipient of the New York City Women's Fund grant in support of her band's fourth album to be released in 2021 and as a recipient of Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works grant.
Charles' musical output has been described as a “genre of one” (DownBeat Magazine), “soulfully articulate” (NY Times) and “an unmatched sound” (Jay Z’s Life+Times). Her critically acclaimed sophomore project, “Inner Dialogue”, released in 2015 on Truth Revolution Records, features her band along with co-producer/special guest Christian Scott. Her third album, "Free of Form" is now available everywhere on Ropeadope/Stretch Music and features SCOPE as well as Scott as co-producer/special guest. One can only look to the future for more unique and boundary pushing music from this one of a kind artist.
(All Website Photos are Taken by Shervin Lainez & Styled by Mia Wright-Ross)