Robert Robinson & Debbie Duncan - Crooners Lounge & Supper Club6161 Hwy 65 NE Minneapolis,MN
08/19/2018 5:00 PM - 08/19/2018 7:00 PM
Robert Robinson is reason to believe that the greatest music reaches every name and crosses every boundary, from audiences in the Pontiac Silverdome to troops in South Korea. Standing five foot five and sipping Diet Coke, Robert is “God’s canary.” He possesses the ability to sing any song and yet remain true to his vision.
There exists a deep sense of goodness about Robert. His father was a pastor and his mother, a church soloist, led the musical ministry on the North side of Minneapolis. At the tender age of 6, Robert (known as Eddie so as not to confuse the young vocalist with his father of the same name) began singing with his family as part of the Robinson Children, and by 15, Robert was directing the church choir. But it was not until around the age of 24 that Robert began to experiment with his prodigious musical gifts outside of the cocoon of church community. At the prodding of friends, family and outsiders, Robert took the modest steps of singing at weddings and small corporate functions, eventually starting a gospel choir at Minneapolis Community College in 1990. Soon, he quit his job as a data processing expert to lead the 100 strong Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, today heralded by Minnesota Monthly Magazine as “the state’s most decorated group.” 1991 brought Robert a featured role in “Nightingale” at the world-renowned Theatre de la Jeune Lune. In 1992, Robert took part for the first time in Lorie Line’s Christmas tour and remained for 15 years with subsequent appearances on PBS and in Target stores nationwide.
Although Robert points to gospel greats Mahalia Jackson, Tramaine Hawkins, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong (with whom he has performed) as inspiration, Robert Robinson works and lives in his own genre. And eventually, it came time for him to forge a new path, combining his ministry of gospel with a vast experience rooted in soul. Told his vocal stylings were “too big for radio”, Robert set out in 2005 with a tenor voice as the superstar. He became producer, creative director and promoter of his own touring schedule and was named one of the “Ten Best Holiday Shows” by Metro Magazine in 2007. At the same time, Robert became a noted clinician giving master classes across the United States and even finding time to become a two-time national karaoke champion!
In January 2010, Robert launched his newest “Signature” CD and kicked off his latest tour. And reviews continue to pour in. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described Robert as “a volcanic talent.” His performance was depicted as “glorious” by the Salt Lake City Deseret News, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune proclaimed Robert to be “a soaring presence.” Perhaps more importantly, Minnesota’s Insight News distinguished Robert as “a beloved institution,” a nod to both his service to the community and his sterling life’s work. People love Robert. Artists look to him for affirmation. Fans adore his inclusive personality. They don’t necessarily have to embrace gospel to embrace Robert and that is alright with him. It’s all about his soul.
Debbie Duncan may be considered the upper Midwest’s “best-kept-musical secret”
but she has become a local legend and treasure in her home of Minneapolis. Her personality, vitality, and versatility all contribute to that fact. She is a terrific entertainer, and this is certainly part of her appeal. Most importantly, however, “she’s a superb vocalist, probably the finest in the area/” [Bob Protzman, St. Paul Pioneer Press]
Debbie was raised in Detroit by parents steeped in jazz, and was surrounded by the vibrant sound of Motown that was sweeping the country. She also has a strong love of folk, classical, and gospel music. The combination of these influences has given her the ability to blue the lines between jazz and popular music, and to sing with a rare level of emotional conviction that draws the audience into the heart of a song. She can move from a whisper to a fever pitch in the breath of a phrase and testigy in a way that commands the listeners rapt attention. Her choice of songs reflects her background. It ranges from jazz standards by great American composers to obscure bluesy sounds [bu Oscar Brown, Jr.] to popular music [by writers like Carol King]. Always, the treatment is Debbie’s alone.
Debbie hones her skills through years of experience. She studied classical voice for 14 years, including 4 years at Wayne State University. In Detroit she recorded back-up vocals for Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger. She then spent several years in the Los Angeles music scene recording back-up vocals for various artists and performing with her own jazz groups in popular nightclub settings.
Originally brought to Minneapolis by Rupert’s Nightclub. This ambitious and widely popular new club featured only the strongest performers and a crack 10-piece band. Jon Bream of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune raved: “Duncan is quite simply the star of the show… she’s superb on funky upbeat workouts, tender ballads and all kinds of jazz numbers; she energizes the ordinary and puts her stamp on everything she does.”
She soon got noticed by the rest of the Twin Cities music community and began working extensively with her own trio. Composed of master pianist Don Stille, bassist Gary Raynor [formerly in Sammy Davis Jr’s trio] and Phil Hey [one of the finest bop drummers in the Midwest], they found themselves in constant demand. Debbie has since then surrounded herself with some of the Twin Cities finest musicians creating many different sound, colors, and textures.
She started collecting awards; Best Female Jazz Vocalist, Best Jazz Vocalist, Best Female Performer, Best Jazz Group, Best Jazz CD: Minnesota Music Awards; Best Female Jazz Vocalist: Minnesota Black Music Awards.
As her reputation grew, touring musicians began to learn about her and inviting her to sit in on their performances.
SINGING AROUND THE WORLD
Debbie has sung with Bobby Watson and Horizon, Roy Hargrove, Bobby Lyle, Jack McDuff, John Hendricks, Mark Murphy, Chicago’s legendary Von Freeman, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Rececca Paris. She received rave reviews opening for greats such as Herbie Hancock, Stephan Grapelli, Miles Davis, Lou Rawls and Joe Henderson. She also sang on Jimmy McGriff’s CD, “In a Blue Meed”, where her track of Dr. Feelgood was the most-played tune on that CD.
Debbie has now expanded her musical horizons nationally to such places as the legendary “Snug Harbor” in New Orleans, “The Green Mill” in Chicago, “Bay Fest Blues Festival” in Mobile Alabama, “Alabama Blues and Jazz Federation” in Montgomery, “Black Hills Jazz Festival” in Black Hills South Dakota, the “Sioux Falls Jazz Festival” in South Dakota and the “KBEM Jazz Festival” in Minneapolis Minnesota.
Let’s not leave out the Eastern area. Debbie has performed at the Baltimore Museum of Arts, Montpelier Art Museum in Laural Maryland, Studio 57 in Washington D.C., and at “Don’t Tell Mama” in New York city. We certainly can’t forget her being invited back two years in a row to the Latitudes Hotel in Paris, 1996-1997. Debbie performed at the Du Maurier Jazz Festival, and various other jazz cenus in Vancouver, B.C.
Duncan is a very civic-minded, conscientious person often donating her time and talents to organizations geared to helping others. She’s often seen performing in benefits for AIDS, Women’s Abuse, Black College Funds, Alzheimers, Senior Citizens and book giving programs for kids. She’s been featured on complication discs benefiting organizations such as Camp Heartland for Kids with AIDS, and Memory Moments for Alzheimers. For the past five years she has been an instructor at Music Tech College teaching a Vocal performance workshop, helping young, upcoming performers to hone their talents.
Debbie an entertainer constantly evolving in her craft, continues to grow in her artistry. her 1995 CD release and holiday concert, performed at the renowned Guthrie Theater “proved that she just keeps getting better”, Bret Robson, Star-Tribune Music Review. Her CD “Live at the Dakota” has and still is drawing much deserved attention nationally. She is also the featured vocalist on Adi Yeshaya’s big band CD [Nice one for Boo]. She recently released a wonderful new CD “travelin’ at the Speed of Love”. Duncan is always pressing forward, digging deep into her creative energies, ever moving towards her destiny.
As word spreads even more about this talented and versatile performer, she is poised to become a major voice in American music. And she deserves to be, for she has earned the praise of those who have heard her with a constant commitment to her art. Critical phrases like “Stole the Show”, “Star of the Show”, “Blew away the crowd”. and “No such thing as a sub par performance by the versatile Duncan” are common in her reviews.
They are responding to a rare combination on personality and vocal talent that promises to build an expanding base of renown wherever she sings.
William Duncan III
Motown City born, once Child Prodigy, Minister of Music, as he shares a fragment, but dynamic portion of his God-inspired beloved music with the Twin Cities and the world…accompanied by some of Minnesota’s finest vocalists and musicians. Mr. Duncan, along with Reynard “Rico” Brown, another one of Detroit’s finest lyricists and best friend, together, have created some of the most exquisite music ever heard.
Brother Duncan grew up with music. He’s taught and worked with some of the greatest gospel artists in the country. Some of these artists include the late Mattie Moss-Clark and her daughters, The Clark Sisters, Byron Cage, Fred Hammond, J Moss, The Winans, the late Donald Vails, Thomas Whitfield, to name a few.