Introducing… Sunny Ozell

25 August, 2015 in Features, Interviews

Sunny Ozell

Sunny Ozell: “I’ve made quite a few EPs and I’ve worn other musical hats in the past. Let’s just say I’m a late bloomer!”

The classically trained singer found her voice performing in clubs around New York and also found her husband, Patrick Stewart

Name: Sunny Ozell

Age: 37

Location: New York, USA

Style: A soulful blend of jazz, blues and Americana

Look out for: Debut album Take It With Me, where Sunny offers her smooth interpretation of works by songwriters both legendary and little-known


Now very much at home in New York, Sunny Ozell’s story started in Reno, Nevada where she grew up in a musical household and began her classical training at an early age. Her parents didn’t play or perform themselves, but they had a passion for music and took music education seriously, getting Sunny playing the violin from the of age of just four years old. She also started vocal training at the age of 11 years old and worked with an opera coach from 13. “That was gruelling and really difficult, also because – even for women – going through puberty does weird things to your voice,” recalls Sunny. At university in Boulder, Colorado, she majored in English Literature and sang in blues bands in her spare time throughout college, but Sunny truly found her voice performing in clubs around New York. She became part of the city’s musical community, honed her unique blend of jazz, blues and American roots, and mastered the art of interpreting works by other songwriters. It’s here that she also met her husband, the distinguished actor Patrick Stewart.

Although Sunny’s career is well established, she considers the latest release Take It With Me to be her debut album. And, despite this long-player consisting purely of cover versions, it should be noted that she’s also a capable songwriter. “I’ve made quite a few EPs and I’ve worn other musical hats in the past. Let’s just say I’m a late bloomer,” says Sunny. “I wrote a couple of tunes on my last release. My strength as a writer is certainly lyrical, first and foremost, and good, catchy melodies. But in terms of really wonderful chord changes or more structural elements, I have good enough taste to know that other people do it better.”

“In New York it can be so difficult because everybody is so busy paying the rent!”

Both on this record and live, the Sunny Ozell ‘experience’ benefits from several highly experienced musicians, including guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan (Semi-Precious Weapons, Drivin n Cryin), bassist Andy Hess (Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, Uberjam), keyboards ace Andrew Sherman (George Duke, Mariah Carey), pedal steel player Jon Graboff (Ryan Adams’s band The Cardinals) and backing singer Nicki Richards who tours with Madonna. Sunny’s quite rightly pleased with her formidable band, but it has its drawbacks: “In New York it can be so difficult because everybody is so busy paying the rent! Particularly because I hire very professional musicians who have eight other projects going on, so at best you can bang out one rehearsal before a gig. So it’s kinda hard sometimes to develop new material.”

Sunny cites the likes of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as influences, for their “simplicity and their total lack of pretention” but also American jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, in particular her 1993 covers album Blue Light ‘Til Dawn. “She covers a Monkees song, and a Neil Young tune and all these disparate genres and backgrounds and time periods, but the whole record is cohesive because of the musicianship and her vocals. Is it Americana? Is it jazz? Is it blues? I just kind of lump it all into a soul music catalogue – I don’t mean like Stax or Motown – just music that is informed by a little bit of a groove and emotionally charged delivery. And that’s where I see myself.”

When asked about plans for her next release, Sunny intends to get back to songwriting: “I think the next go-around is going to be original stuff and we’re already doing little preliminary sessions and plotting and scheming… whatever comes next I’m looking forward to it.”


Sunny Ozell’s debut album Take It With Me is out now on Man In The Moon Records, and expect to see her touring in the UK before the end of 2015. Find out about all this and more at: sunnyozell.com

Sunny Ozell

Sunny: “My strength as a writer is certainly lyrical, first and foremost, and good, catchy melodies.”

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