May 8th, 2020 7pm Stage 3
Jazz and gospel with a penchant for storytelling provide her musical foundation. Singer-songwriter and pianist Markeisha Ensley invites her listeners into an intimate atmosphere ripe with love and passion, mischance and expectation. With a sultry voice that soars over soulful melodies, she strikes an uplifting groove and graces the stage with a powerful, undeniable presence.
Residing in NYC, Markeisha is the winner of the 2011 Abe Olman Scholarship Award for Excellence in Songwriting from the Songwriters Hall of Fame/Songwriters Guild of America, with previous recipients including John Legend. As an actress, she recently originated the role of Nina Simone in the concert drama, Little Girl Blue, which showcased at the National Black Theatre Festival in Nina’s home state of North Carolina. Internationally, Markeisha has performed in Japan, Paris, and the Philippines and can be heard singing her heart out at venues in NYC and across the US.
On her most recent recording Talk To Me (EP), Markeisha blends Motown doo-wop harmonies, jazz arrangements and gospel singing on a selection of up-tempos and ballads on love. The EP includes five songs written by the singer as reflection of her recent travels to the Caribbean. “It was my first time traveling abroad and I was so affected and inspired by the French culture, people, and of course, the food,” she laughs. Recorded with her band in NYC at Flux Studios (Mick Jagger, Jennifer Lopez, Babyface), the EP was produced by David Amber for AmberSongs and was released in 2012.
As a child, Markeisha began her love affair with music while singing in her hometown Baptist church choir. Gospel music laid the foundation, but she was also heavily influenced by her parents’ record collection with Aretha, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Carole King and Linda Ronstadt on heavy rotation. Markeisha studied piano and began writing poetry while in high school, but it was the many nights spent writing songs in the school’s practice rooms while attending New York University that sent Markeisha down the road to singer-songwriter land. “I developed my own sanctuary and no matter what was going on in my life, I could sit behind a piano and sing and know everything was alright.”
Markeisha’s other awards and honors include two Honorable Mentions in the 14th Annual Billboard World Songwriting Contest from her debut album Ready. BMI/Songwriters Association of Washington also recognized Markeisha, where she was asked to perform at the Smithsonian Museum alongside legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier (“Stop! In the Name of Love”). The singer is involved in various areas of community outreach in the NYC area, working as a music teaching artist in NYC public school and performing with LIFEBeat’s Hearts and Voices Program. Markeisha recently returned home to NYC after completing a 4-month residency performing in Japan and is currently writing and recording her second EP.