Jazz vocalist Monika Ryan, started singing professionally at the age of 15 and had management by 16, working around New York City and under mentorship of musicians like Houston Person. With his recommendation, she applied and entered the world renowned New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan, where she further honed her craft studying with Jackie Paris, Sheila Jordan, Buster Williams, Reggie Workman, Chico Hamilton, Charli Persip, Junior Mance, Arnie Lawrence, and many other jazz luminaries.
At 18 years old Monika started singing with Charli Persip’s big band, “Precipitation,” and working at nightclubs and concert halls around New York. Through these concerts, she met and started working at premier clubs and venues in New York City with other greats, such as Al Grey, Gene Bertoncini, and Larry Ham. At 23, Monika was hired by Carnegie Hall to perform for 2 seasons of its “Neighborhood Concert Series.” During that time she recorded in Carnegie Hall’s studio with legendary guitar player Gene Bertoncini and Carnegie Hall studio engineer, Leszek Wojcik.
In 2000, she produced her first solo recording of all original material, “Love.” The album met with critical acclaim and brought her to the Montreal Jazz Festival. A year later, she followed up with her second album, “Duo,” a collection of standards and original material with guitarist Satoshi Inoue, and then toured Japan with Jon Faddis, David Hazeltine, Satoshi Inoue, Akira Tana and Kiyoshi Kitagawa as part of The Big Apple In Nonoichi Jazz Festival. A year later, she returned to Japan to tour with James Williams, John Lockwood, Bill Pierce, Satoshi Inoue, and Tony Reedus. In 2014, Monika released her third recording, “Involution." An eclectic and original collection of songs across a variety of genres, "Involution" is a meditation on the cycle of expansion and contraction in all things.
In 2016, Monika completed a largely improvised jazz album with pianist Chris White, titled “Sketches.” She followed “Sketches” with "Fly,” a modern pop/jazz concept piece that aims to take listeners on an intelligent journey, exploring the life of aviation pioneer, Charles Lindbergh. Also in 2016 Monika recorded “Merry,” a holiday album, and "Crash," music published in 1929—both recorded with guitarist, David O’Rourke. Crash was released in 2017.
“Windmills,” a tribute to the legendary lyricists, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, was recorded and mixed in the Fall of 2016—released in 2017—with Keith Loftis/sax, Brad Goode/tp, Clark Gayton/tb, Nick Rolfe/key, David O’Rourke/g, Rene Hart/b, and Alvester Garnett/dr. A 2018 Global Music Award winner and also awarded Best Vocal Jazz Album from the 2018 Clouzine Awards, All About Jazz writes, “As tribute albums go, Monika Ryan’s Windmills is a homage project that the Bergman’s should be proud of. Classical love songs voiced by a superior singer and backed by a top-notch cast of players, makes this vocal jazz album, a must for those who appreciate the genre.”
Monika followed “Windmills” with “Now,” a collection of original, contemporary Jazz and Folk songs inspired by current events. “Now” was recorded and mixed in early 2017 and released in February, 2018. The album won two Global Music Awards, one for “Female Vocalist Honoree” and another for the protest song, "This Land." Monika released “Changes” in July of 2018, a modern take on some standard jazz harmonies. “Changes” is collection of songs written with humor, wit, and modern sensibilities, as well as steeped in deep jazz roots.
Her latest album, “Lullabies” was released July 22, 2019
Monika is currently in rehearsals for the recording of her twelfth studio album, which is a collaboration with celebrated artist Noshir Mody. Together they have written a collection of songs with spirit for a larger ensemble to be released in early 2020. In the meantime, check out Monika live at one of her upcoming performances.