Paulette McWilliams brings her music to European audiences with several high-profile performances featuring her new band. Meet Novo Era in 2023, headed up by Oskar Cartaya (Spyro Gyra, Herb Alpert, Robbie Robertson, and more)
She’ll showcase her warm, smokey tones and her four-octave range on several stellar selections from her most recent album, A Woman’s Story, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Kamau Kenyatta ( Gregory Porter). The album features some new favorites as she chronicles her music career by including hits from the famous artists she’s toured with and recorded.
Fans can expect a repertoire filled with original songs and soulful, jazzy interpretations of classics by her legendary friends/mentors, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Luther Vandross.
On the recording side, Paulette teams up with Grammy-nominated producer Ivan Hampden Jr. for an upcoming release in Spring. Last year, the pair celebrated great success with their lush, new holiday classic, Pink Champagne, the UK Soul Chart hit, Mama’s Kitchen Table, and a stirring rendition of Bread's IF.
Plus, Paulette is working on a brand new album with Kamau.
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 and 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."
Most recently, she sang on the Nike spot and appeared on tv in the spot with Kobe Bryant for his last game!