Monika Ryan is not just another singer, she is an architect of sound and story, carving out a niche in the world of jazz with her unique blend of classic and contemporary sound matched by philosophical and clever lyrics. Her music, potent and melodic, reflects the energy of her native New York City, and her smooth, velvety voice brings to life a spectrum of emotions, manifesting in everything from heartfelt ballads to effervescent swing tunes and searing bebop numbers.
Monika's journey in music began early. She was a pro on the New York Jazz scene as a teenager, an alumna of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and a private student of the legendary Jackie Paris. She adopted the professional name Monika Brand in her teenage years.
At only 25, Monika released her debut album "Love," a testament to her already impressive decade-long professional presence in jazz.
As a teenager, Monika was hired by Charlie Persip to sing with his big band, "Precipitation," was invited to perform onstage by Jon Hendricks, and was hired by Al Grey to sing with his band. Her career continued to flourish with significant milestones, such as headlining at The Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2000, touring Japan with Jon Faddis and David Hazeltine in 2001, and again with James Williams, Bill Pierce, John Lockwood, and Tony Reedus in 2002. Performing as part of Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series and recording at Carnegie Hall with engineer Leszek Wojcik and guitarist Gene Bertoncini. All of these achievements were accomplished independently, showcasing her relentless dedication to her craft, never having been signed by a label, or supported by the music industry machine.
After her marriage to Jeremy Ryan in 1998, she embraced a professional name change to align with her new legal surname.
Her sophomore album, "Duo," a collaboration with guitarist Satoshi Inoue, set the start of a tradition—single-word album titles.
Monika's discography spans thirteen full-length albums, one single, and one EP, each displaying her signature "jazz accent"—an indelible stamp of her musical language on every composition, regardless of whether she's venturing beyond the realms of traditional jazz. Equally adept at the interpretation of The Great American Songbook as with her own compositions.
As of August 25, 2023, Monika is set to release her fourteenth full-length album, "Playfully." The album is a love letter to the history of jazz, featuring eleven original tracks that echo Monika's sunny outlook on life. The high-flying trio of Steve Einerson on piano, Rene Hart on bass, and Alvester Garnett on drums come together with Monika's voice to deliver an exciting and totally new jazz experience.
Monika's stage presence is an amalgamation of grace, elegance, wit, and charm that resonates with audiences everywhere—from cozy jazz nooks to grand concert halls. Critics, too, echo this sentiment. Don Heckman of the LA Times praised her songwriting as "impressive and memorable," while Edward Blanco of All About Jazz regards her as a "must-listen," lauding her voice's tender touch on each song's lyrics.
In the words of Sheila Jordan, Monika Ryan is "a wonderful singer whose music will help keep the flame of jazz alive." Monika is not merely an act in the jazz world; she is a playwright, a game-changer, shaping the future of jazz with her innovative compositions.
Join her on this journey by subscribing to her mailing list for insider news and discussions about the creative process. Monika Ryan promises a thrilling journey through the soulful landscapes of jazz—one you'll never forget.