One of many self-styled contemporary folk singer/songwriters to have come on the scene in the 1980s, Vance Gilbert was inspired to begin writing his own material after hearing Shawn Colvin perform at a Boston theater.
While Gilbert has become recognized on the folk festival circuit as a songwriter of substance, performance for him is second nature.
Gilbert is not a middle-of-the-road folk singer, and his diverse set of influences includes Kenny Rankin, Roberta Flack, Carmen McRae, George Benson and Stevie Wonder. His voice has been compared to everyone from Al Jarreau to Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway. Listen to Vance here …
Born and raised in Willingboro, N.J., Gilbert moved to Connecticut to attend Connecticut College, relocating to Boston after graduating in 1979. Gilbert’s brother had brought him a bass to keep him studying in the dorms, but he later switched to acoustic guitar and singing, because it satisfied his need to be up front, doing his own thing. Before he began performing his own songs in concert, Gilbert worked in cocktail lounges, performing a wide repertoire of songs that ranged from Gershwin to Top 40, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. After the lounge work dried up, Gilbert began teaching in Boston-area public schools.
Shortly after beginning his career in Boston in the early 90s, Gilbert released his debut recording Edgewise in 1994 and quickly established himself as a staple performer on the national folk and singer/songwriter circuits.
While Gilbert’s guitar work is decidedly folk-based, his voice tends toward a soul or even jazz-based style. Between songs during live sets, Gilbert cracks jokes and shares anecdotes in a manner that has become as much a part of his art as his music.
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