Using a breathtaking vocal range that makes seamless links between musical cultures, Cleveland Watkiss blends improvisation and counterpoint harmony, electronics, breakbeat loops and basslines (all live and from his mouth) to stunning effect, creating a unique, orchestral vocal soundscape.
VocalSuite is an elusive a cappella vocal improvisation performance that uses the atmosphere of venue, mood and interactivity of audience to present a performance of the moment; seamless links between musical cultures from Africa to Europe go together to create human vocal soundscapes. ​ Born in the East End of London, virtuoso vocalist, actor and composer Cleveland Watkiss studied the voice at the London School of Singing with opera coach Arnold Rose and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Cleveland was also one of the co-founders of the vastly influential Jazz Warriors big band. His vocals can be heard on their debut album, Out of Many People, which won a video award in Japan.
Cleveland was then entered for the Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards and was voted best vocalist for three consecutive years, and was the opening act of choice for two of the worlds greatest female jazz vocalists Cassandra Wilson and Abbey Lincoln. John Fordham, the Guardian music journalist accurately describes Cleveland as "arriving on the scene with a bang.
"Fingers dancing over the keys of an imaginary saxophone or pumping the valves of an invisible trumpet, Cleveland Watkiss' instrument is his voice. Vocal improvisation is the game. Arena
"Watkiss can create any of these sounds in live performance... he can be a one man band. Time Out
"Cleveland Watkiss earlier on spun some ecstatic variations on a Chopin prelude that had us all spellbound. Telegraph
"One line good - but six lines just incredible. The Independent
"An original work from a unique British talent. Blues & Soul
"He is a genuine virtuoso. The Independent See Less