Marilyn T. Keller grew up in Alamogordo, New Mexico in the United States surrounded by music. The daughter of a baptist minister, gospel music was especially central to Marilyn’s early development, with both of her parents singing in gospel groups. Later trained in jazz as a member of the Mt. Hood Community College Vocal Jazz Ensemble in Portland, Oregon, Marilyn is a 39-year veteran of music and stage performance in Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Pop, Blues, and theater both in the States and internationally.
Marilyn and I sat down in late June to discuss her early development as a musician and how she came to a career in jazz, what she learned about the legendary Ma Rainey when she was cast to play her in a 2011 production of playwright August Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, her involvement in US politics and her work in support of the Democratic party, and her thoughts about black female representation both in jazz media today and elsewhere.