Born in 1977 in Oakdale, New York, Monheit was encouraged to pursue music from a young age by her father, who played guitar, and her mother, who sang. Primarily influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, as well as singers like Judy Garland and Billie Holiday, Monheit also drew early inspiration from Broadway musicals. She began taking vocal lessons and by her teens was already performing gigs locally. After high school, she attended the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Peter Eldridge, noted founder of New York Voices. It was while still in school at age 20 that she won runner-up in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute vocal competition. That same year, she signed to the N-Coded label and released her debut album of standards, Never Never Land.
Monheit graduated from Manhattan School of Music the following year and returned in 2001 with her sophomore album, Come Dream with Me, which featured appearances by Christian McBride, Tom Harrell, and Kenny Barron. It also proved a breakthrough for Monheit, hitting number one on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. In the Sun arrived in 2002 and found her framed in lush orchestrations by Alan Broadbent and Vince Mendoza. It also performed well, landing at number five on the jazz chart. The album was also the first to include Monheit's drummer and husband, Rick Montalbano, with whom she would continue to work and collaborate regularly.
Following appearances on albums by Terence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, and Mark O'Connor, Monheit again reached the Top Ten of the jazz charts with 2004's Taking a Chance on Love, a romantic album that reunited her with arranger Mendoza and included a duet with singer Michael Bublé. The holiday-themed The Season arrived in 2005, followed two years later by the ballads-oriented Surrender. In 2009, she released her seventh studio album, The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me. Along with a rendition of the Muppets ballad "The Rainbow Connection," the record found Monheit exploring a mix of classic and contemporary works, including songs by Paul Simon, Fiona Apple, and Corinne Bailey Rae.
Home arrived on Emarcy in 2010, debuting at number five on the jazz chart. It featured guest appearances by singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli and one of Monheit's former Manhattan School of Music teachers, vocalist Peter Eldridge. In 2013, she released her ninth studio album, the Gil Goldstein-produced Heart of the Matter. A more personal album in the vein of The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me, it again reached number five on the jazz chart. She then collaborated with pianist David Benoit on 2015's Believe and 2 in Love before paying homage to her idol with 2016's The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald. In 2021, Monheit released her tenth studio album, Come What May, which featured her longtime group with pianist and musical director Michael Kanan. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi
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