Meet Branice

“Sharing an artistic experience with others is part of the joy of art. When someone with a gift of talent like Branice McKenzie becomes one of  those experiences, it becomes the reaffirmation of the goodness of art as an instrument of love and communication. I have not only enjoyed her talent, I have been inspired by it.”

-Harry Belafonte

Branice McKenzie’s career includes everything from jazz to theater to prolific songwriting. Some of her credits include critically acclaimed performances at the Newport Jazz Festival, The Umbria Jazz Festival and most recently

San Francisco’s prestigious Fillmore Jazz Festival. On the theatrical stage she has created roles in “Shades Of Harlem”, “Sing Sister Sing”, “Jazz Alley” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You: The Music of Ray Charles”. As a composer and music director, she has penned music for “Shelter”,  “Shades Of Harlem” and “Blackbirds Of Courage” as well as her latest work, “Planet For Children: A Musical for Children”. She is a recipient of the Meet The Composer grant from New York State and also made her directorial debut with the World Premier of the family musical “Celebrate Kwanzaa” at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Branice also composed, "I Fly", for the film short, "Gentelle’s Wings", and it is also the title song of her latest CD of the same name.

 

Ms. McKenzie attended the Shanghai International Experimental Theatre Arts Festival as Associate Director with the Tracy Performing Arts Foundation for the play, “At The Playground”, which won a coveted place in the festival.

 

Her incredible four-octave voice and magnificent song stylings have been hailed throughout the world. She has toured with Harry Belafonte

Gregory Hines, Roberta Flack, Hugh Masekela and performed with Carly Simon, BeBe Winans, Dianne Reeves, Peggy Lee, Ledisi and Miriam Makeba to name a few and is performing all over the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia.

 

Ms. McKenzie was invited to Russia to perform at Moscow’s premier jazz club, Le Club and with Jazz Symphonic Strings at the historic Tchaikovsky Hall. She also was the conductor of the Youth Chorale for the West Coast premier of INDABA written by and performed with Sweet Honey In The Rock. Most recently Branice was invited to co-host the premier event of the season, Oprah Celebrates Susan Taylor – 37 Years at Essence magazine. She then accepted the invitation to be a guest artist - comedienne, actor, storyteller, vocalist and composer at the Smithsonian’s 43rd Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.  

 

She can be heard on numerous jingles and recordings including Hugh Masekela’s “Uptownship” singing the heralded single, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, Grammy- nominated “Loves Drum Passion” by Olatunji and the single “Maybe Next Year” with Onaje Allan Gumbs on his CD, “Remember Their Innocence”.

 

As a composer, Branice McKenzie spreads her wings across many music genres and sentiments. Her recordings represent her magnificent artistic vista and are consistently sought after by artists, workshop facilitators, activists and speakers to be used to inform, transform and inspire. Branice’s composition, "Sing Sister Sing", has become an anthem for women everywhere and it was recently presented at a Conference on Domestic Violence for support and encouragement.

 

Music Is her recording of inspirational compositions. And Ms. McKenzie’s CD, "I Am Me :  Melodies, Lyrics & Lessons for Children", was released to rave reviews from children of all ages! Her composition, “Sing Sing Sing”, was chosen as the second-grade song in McGraw-Hill’s music textbook, Spotlight On Music.

In the summer of 2014, Ms. McKenzie attended and presented at the International Conference on Education: On Excellence, Creativity and Innovation In The Classroom in Paris, France representing the book Organic Creativity In The Classroom where you will find a chapter on Ms. McKenzie and her “stylistic and comprehensive approach as an teaching artist in the classroom”.

Branice’s fourth CD, "I Fly", is transformative, inspiring and life-changing.

Her compositions have become anthems as well as a healing balm for many. Her next release, "The New Standard", is her most recent work in progress.

 

Branice McKenzie is Founding Minister of Music at Heart And Soul Center of Light in Oakland, CA and a member of the Vocal Faculty at Oakland School For The Arts which carries the honor of a California Distinguished School and at St. Paul’s Episcopal School as Sixth Grade Choir Director.

 

Ms. McKenzie holds a B.A. in Psychology, Brown University and an M.A. in Music Education, New York University. Ms. Branice Williams McKenzie also holds the distinct honor of being the Co-founder and Director

of the Black Chorus of Brown University.

"On another strong performance, 'Maybe Next Year', is Branice McKenzie with a sensitivity, intonation and eloquence that mark her as a fine exponent of jazz in song." -allaboutjazz.com

"Then suddenly vocalist Branice McKenzie interrupts the silence with the song 'Maybe Next Year', makes me smile and think about Sarah Vaughan" -www.soul-patrol.com