A terrific voice. Charisma to spare. A delightful raconteur. Impeccable musical taste and vocal phrasing. Unassuming nice guy. They all apply to Russ Lorenson, whose burnished tenor is currently thrilling audiences from coast to coast.
Born in Philadelphia, Russ’ career began as a youngster, making his stage debut at the ripe old age of seven. He continued singing and acting in the theatre throughout his early school years, moving with his family to San Diego when he was nine years old. High school found him more focused on "legit" music, where he performed and toured with an award-winning classical vocal ensemble. He also gained experience as both a choral conductor and composer, winning a young artists’ competition in his school district for his composition work.
After college, he continued his work as a choral conductor and voice coach, working for five years as Associate Conductor of the award-winning California Youth Chorale. He returned to theatrical performing as well, appearing in musical productions with San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre, Starlight Musical Theatre, and Lyric Opera San Diego.
In the late 90’s, Russ took a major detour away from life on the boards. This multi-talented artist plunged into the high-tech world just as the dot-com boom was exploding. Never one to do things by halves, he moved to San Francisco, began working in start-ups and found himself flying high in all senses of the word. Extensively traveling in his various jobs, Russ racked up nearly a million air miles and boasted an income that easily surpassed the meager earnings of an actor and singer. Performing fell by the wayside, but after a break of nearly 10 years, the scene changed once again.
Although continuing in high-tech, Russ began appearing with San Francisco’s 42nd Street Moon, one of only four theatre groups in the U.S. whose mission is to present staged concert revivals of "lost" musicals from Broadway's Golden Age. He has appeared in their productions of Finian's Rainbow, Minnie's Boys, Cole Porter’s Red, Hot & Blue!, and in 2006, he appeared in the company’s first foray into opera, with their production of The Golden Apple.
In 2005, Russ made the great leap and left the high-tech world to return to his passion. With his band, under the musical direction of renowned jazz pianist Kelly Park, Russ quickly established a reputation as one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s leading interpreters of jazz standards. He does not shy away from theatricality but always knows when to infuse jazz sensibilities into an old Broadway chestnut, bringing new life to a song audiences think they know so well. Russ’ sound and approach place him at the intersection of Broadway, jazz, and pop the very essence of the Great American Songbook.
Russ’s first nightclub show, A Little Travelin’ Music, played to sold-out audiences on both coasts. His debut CD, of the same name, was released in May 2006 on the LML Music label and features songs from the show and includes duets with special guests Shawn Ryan and Klea Blackhurst. His second CD, What I Want For Christmas, hit music stores in September 2006, and both CD's were included on the Nominating Ballot for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in the category of "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album" alongside such artists as Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, and John Pizzarelli.
In recognition of his solid and sophisticated musical vocabulary, Talkin’Broadway.com called Russ "an elegant performer who has faultless musical taste and vocal phrasing. He has a voice that is reminiscent of some of the great singers like Tony Bennett, Chet Baker and a little of Mel Tormé." The Los Angeles Times said that he brings "a supple voice and strong sense of characterization to all his songs." The San Diego Union-Tribune said that his "relaxed, easy deliveries...seem natural and heartfelt..." BeyondChron.com said, "Not only does Lorenson have the soul of the greats Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other dream crooners of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s he has the band with him to really bring those decades to life." The Coronado Journal simply called him " irresistible "
The best is yet to come as Russ honors the legendary Tony Bennett in his latest show, Benedetto/Blessed: A Tribute to the Life and Music of Tony Bennett. The world knows him as Tony Bennett, but his birth name - Benedetto - means "blessed", an accurate adjective to describe both the man and his fans.
"I find great inspiration in Mr. Bennett’s music and artistic vision," says Lorenson. "The Great American Songbook has had no greater champion, and I am honored to be singing Mr. Bennett’s greatest hits."
Russ’ tribute to the man whom Frank Sinatra called "the best singer in the business" premiered in July 2006, when Russ opened for the legendary Eartha Kitt at the Austin (Texas) Cabaret Theatre. The show is currently touring the U.S., with sold-out runs across the country, including San Francisco's Empire Plush Room, and New York's famed Iridium Jazz Club.