Most urban/pop music fans know Renee Neufville, as the statuesque co-founder of the platinum selling duo ZHANE, which rocketed to stardom over a decade ago with a string of Top 5 pop gems (“Hey Mr. D.J., “Groove Thing,” “Sending My Love,”). However, more attuned aficionado’s know she’s been cutting her teeth for the past several years touring the world as a featured singer/keyboard player with legendary Roy Hargrove and his funky jazz unit, RH FACTOR, while also intermittingly performing with her own band, and writing material for her first solo recording project.
“Everything happens when it’s supposed to,” infused Neufville. I’ve felt very fortunate to be a part of Roy’s RH Factor, and to experience so much growth, both artistically and musically,” she added. “It’s been the perfect segue to help formulate an and develop the wide spectrum of music that I’ve been writing for my debut solo project.”
Since hooking up with the RH Factor, Neufville has cultivated an entirely new audience performing at most of the major international jazz festivals around the world, from Monterey to the Playboy Jazz Festival, to North Sea, Montreux, and performing as far away as Russia and Lithuania. In addition, Neufville has also collaborated with Hargrove as songwriter/composer and is a featured singer and keyboard player on Hargrove’s latest CD, “Distractions, ”(Verve).
Prior to joining Hargrove, Neufville kept busy as songwriter, musician, performer, and hosted a live web cast series, “Soul 88,” (2000) that featured among others, recording stars, Jill Scott, Carl Thomas, Kelis and Joe. She also contributed to recordings and videos by India.Arie, Will Downing, Heather Headley, Leela James, Aaliyah, and Kindred. In the interim, she put together her first band, and began packing several noted clubs in New York such as SOB’s and the Jazz Gallery.
Neufville, a native of Jamaica, was raised in Brooklyn, and graduated Temple University in Philadelphia where she formed Zhane with Jean Norris. The tandem were signed by Motown records and burst into the national spotlight with their mega dance/pop/urban hit, “Hey Mr. D.J.” After a succession of hit singles, two platinum selling albums, and a string of high profile performances including several national tour dates opening for Maxwell, the duo parted ways during the recording of what would have been their third album.
Neufville has since proven she has a musical pedigree that has no boundaries, and she promises her first solo recording venture, titled “Sovereign,” will fuse a myriad of musical genres, from R & B, pop, jazz, hip hop, and dance hall, into a homogenous and intoxicating blend.
But what may be viewed as categories for the rest of us – is simply MUSIC to Renee Neufville. So it’s probably futile to try to categorize Neufville’s genre-free approach to the songs and melodies she writes, or to describe the range of her vocal prowess. Maybe the best compliment to Neufville’s chameleon persona and diverse talents came from a European critic after seeing her perform with the RH Factor, “Renee IS the genre – “Viva Genre Renee!”