"Verena McBee is a powerful and very expressive singer with a wide range.
Born and raised in Germany, she was classically trained and had a busy career working as an actress.
Since moving to New York in 2007, she has developed into a fine jazz singer and appeared in many venues, generally in the New York area."
Scott Yanow, Jazz Journalist / Historian / Author
(“The Jazz Singers”, “The Great Jazz Guitarists”, “Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76” )
Born and raised in Northern Germany Verena McBee has been always connected to the arts.
Starting at age 7 she took piano lessons over 15 years in her hometown at the Conservatory of Osnabrueck and added the flute at age 14 and joined a local theater group.
In 1993 she studied classical music for teaching (piano & flute) & German language and literature at the "University Osnabrueck".
She finished in 1997 with her first State examination. While studying music in Osnabrueck, Verena auditioned for acting schools and was accepted in Hamburg at "Schule fuer Schauspiel" in 1997.
In the years of 2000-2006 Verena appeared as actress and vocalist under her maiden name Verena Gemsa in Hamburg, Munich, Vienna, Cologne, Brussels, Prisdina and NYC.
In 2004 she met her now husband Cecil McBee and moved to NYC in 2007. Inspired by the music of Sarah Vaughan Verena started studying Jazz Vocals with several different instructors, among them Brianna Thomas, Roberta Gambarini and Nicole Zuraitis.
Since 2009 she's appearing on the NYC jazz scene and has performed at "CORNELIA STREET CAFE", "JAZZ at KITANO", "METROPOLITAN ROOM", "GARAGE", "ZINC BAR", "The Cupping Room Cafe", "Shrine","Les Pescadeaux", "Nirvana", "5C Cafe", Antibes" and others places and also performed as guest vocalist w/"Transcendt" - The Cecil McBee Band, Hillsdale/NY and Harpers Ferry/ WV at the "Don Redman Heritage Award"-Concert '14 for and with Cecil McBee (& Billy Harper) & the 'Howard Burns Quartet'.
She has appeared with John Colianni, David Kikoski, Mark Soskin and John DiMartino on piano and also shared the stage as a guest with Cecil McBee, George Cables and Victor Lewis.
In January 2013 Verena produced her Debut Jazz album ( "Can't help it !") with her trio: Billy Test/Piano, Zwelakhe Duma F. Bell du Pere/Double Bass and Brian Woodruff/drums, which was released in September of 2013 and is available on this website, on CD Baby & on Amazon.
In 2018 "U-PHORIA", her 2nd album with all compositions by her husband jazz bassist Cecil McBee and her lyrics, was released in November.
Verena's band expanded to a Sextet with this production and features Gabriel Dowdy-Terracciano on Violin, Christian Contreras on Soprano & Tenor Saxophone, Billy Test on Piano, Zwelkahe-Duma F. Bell LePere on Bass & Jon DiFiore on Drums.
In June 2020 she started to host her own monthly online "Jazz Duo Series" with pianists John Colianni, John DiMartino & MattBaker, which is available on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.