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headshotToni Harris was drawn to music at a young age. The vocals of jazz legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and others gave Toni great joy and sense of freedom that was uncommon for a black child coming of age in the impoverished inner city of Philadelphia. Despite the importance of music in her life and her affinity for it, many years passed before Toni realized her own talent for spreading inspiration and joy to others through her music. And when she did begin to sing again, she discovered that her own performances were influenced by the vocal stylings of the singers she listened to as a child.

In the summer 1993, at the urging of her family, Toni attended a vocal clinic at Illinois Benedict College. There, under the guidance of Janis Borler, Toni discovered her voice and a passion for performing. She returned to the summer clinic the following summer to continue her vocal development. It was during a particularly impassioned performance at the end of the second clinic that an instructor coined Toni's moniker, "Ms. Jazz", as she seemed to embody the very spirit of the music while she sang.

Toni has since performed in numerous Jazz festivals, shows, and venues including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Summer Jazz Festival at Illinois Benedict College, Cape May Jazz Festival, Musikfest, Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz Festival, East Coast Jazz Festival, Women in Jazz Festival (at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.), International Women in Jazz Show, Barry Harris' "A Rose, a Wishing Well, with Love to Cast a Spell" at the Symphony Space Theater on New York City's Broadway, Detroit Black Writers Guild’s Annual Conference, Blue Note (Philadelphia, PA), Cleft Club (Philadelphia, PA), Blue Jazz Club (Washington, D.C.), Biddles' Night Club (Montreal), Lennex Lounge (New York), Copeland's (New York), Soul Food Cafe with Melba Joyce (New York), and the Sugar Shack (New York).


© Toni Harris and JazzNorte Productinos 2014