"I think some people choose music because it looks glamorous. I chose it because it really elevates my soul. I really do feel my soul lifted every time I sing."
Paulette McWilliams will bring her music to European audiences with several high-profile performances featuring her new band. Meet Novoera, which means 'new era,' headed up by Oskar Cartaya (Spyro Gyra, Herb Alpert, Robbie Robertson, Herb Albert, and more)
On the recording side, Paulette teams up with Grammy-nominated producer Ivan Hampden Jr. on a new collection, These Are The Sweet Things, released by Expansion Records. The album is receiving rave reviews. The website, Soul & Jazz & Funk writes, "...across the album, you’ll discover that Paulette can go from a hushed gentleness to a funky feistiness at the drop of hat. Feel the funk on tracks like ‘Baby Think Again’ (a funk that has a jazzy undertow), the live-flavored ‘Teddy’s Got A Plan,’ the grinding ‘That’s How I Am’ and ‘Sometimes Your Eyes’ where you’ll hear where Chaka Khan learned her licks." One of the album's tunes, What I Wanna Do To You is charting on the UK Soul Chart Breakers.
Last year, the pair celebrated great success with their lush, new holiday classic, Pink Champagne. Daily Music Roll stated, "the track is enough to make you fall in love with the artist's creative expressions and artistry." Plus, she released the UK Soul Chart hit, Mama’s Kitchen Table and a stirring rendition of Bread's IF.
She showcases her warm, smokey tones and four-octave range on several stellar selections on her album, A Woman’s Story, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Kamau Kenyatta ( Gregory Porter).
Urban Music Scene's review stated, "Paulette’s confessional will bring a tear to your eye as will the closing selection, Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. A Woman’s Story is Paulette McWilliams finally doing a record 100% her way without compromise. If you’ve been following the lady across the decades, you might just feel like you’re hearing her for the first time all over again.”
In an interview with Concert Monkey, Paulette explained, "This record (A Woman's Story) has been over three years in the making, and a good part of that time was spent selecting what to sing! I’m singing and interpreting songs we know and love."
Fans are treated to a beautiful repertoire filled with original songs and soulful, jazzy interpretations of classics by her legendary friends/mentors, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Luther Vandross.
Paulette is working on a brand new album produced by Kamau Kenyatta, which will include a new song by Janis Ian.
Hailing from Chicago, Paulette became the lead singer with Ask Rufus and was solely responsible for introducing the group to her dearest friend, Chaka Khan. Paulette and Chaka shared the lead in Ask Rufus for some time before Paulette left the band.
“I was so upset about leaving my daughter to tour with Rufus for long periods. I decided that the jingles were so lucrative that the best thing for me was to leave the group.”
Moving from gig to gig, Paulette worked feverishly, and then, thanks to a recording produced by Donny Hathaway and Phil Upchurch, she was “introduced” to Quincy Jones. Upchurch, the world-famous jazz guitarist, sent a studio recording to Quincy. Shortly after that, Paulette became solo/lead singer with Quincy during his “Body Heat” tour, and he featured her on his Mellow Madness album – the title song co-written by Paulette. Next, they toured Japan, where one of Paulette’s dreams came true: singing a duet live with the legendary Sarah Vaughan while Quincy conducted the orchestra. After moving to New York City, Paulette also toured and sang live with Luther Vandross and recorded with Luther on every album he recorded from Forever For Always For Love.
“Luther Vandross nicknamed me Lettie. He’d say, “Lettie, you have more resonance in your voice than any woman I’ve ever heard.”
Paulette and Luther met when she was a Harlette with Bette Midler and became fast friends because Luther loved Paulette’s voice and said she and he had the most incredible blend. Paulette performed all of the Tammi Terrell duets with Marvin Gaye on his last tour, which was recorded live.
“I felt like I was Marvin Gaye’s kid sister. He always made me feel comfortable on stage singing with him."
As one of the most in-demand background vocalists in the industry, Paulette worked with some of the best artists, performers, and producers, such as Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, Joan Osborne, Billy Idol, David Bowie, Keith Emerson, The Brecker Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Lauryn Hill, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Patty LaBelle, Deborah Cox, Michael Jackson, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Herbie Hancock, Anastacia, Teri Lynne Carrington. She also recorded duets with Johnny Mathis and sang a solo on Noel Pointer’s last CD, arranged the background vocals, and sang on them for Noel Pointer. Paulette has performed at jazz festivals /clubs, including the International Jazz Festival in The Netherlands and Thailand, Japan, Monterey, Indonesia, China, Trinidad, Milan, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Bern, Switzerland, including Ronnie Scotts in London and the Blue Note in Milan and Tokyo. Recently at the Blue Note in Beijing, China asked back for the second time.
Paulette performed at the International Jazz Festival in The Netherlands and Thailand, and she was introduced to the Dutch Ambassador, who loved her work!! She then recorded a “Live” CD with the fabulous Beets Brothers in Europe, which is being played on jazz stations worldwide! It is also essential to note that Paulette has sung solo/ group on numerous TV commercials such as for Folgers Coffee, Kellogg, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi (with Britney Spears), Cadillac, Cover Girl, American Express, Celebrex, MasterCard, United Airlines, Budweiser Beer, Coors, eBay, and Mercedes.
“I sang so many national commercials that I can’t even name them. I did 600, at least."
One of her favorite memories is singing on the Nike spot and appearing on TV in the spot with Kobe Bryant for his last game!