Katreese Barnes

Music Director, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Pianist, Vocalist & Saxophonist

Not too many people can say in one life they have sung backgrounds for Sting, played saxophone for D’Angelo and was pianist/music director for Saturday Night Live. If you don’t know Katreese Barnes by name, you’ve certainly heard her music. Two time Emmy award winning, Grammy nominated pianist, producer and composer, she’s been a hidden hand at orchestrating some of our cherished cultural sounds. After years of background work, Barnes has taken center stage with her new EP, Something To Consider. And she’s marshaled her ensemble into a land where jazz, classical and soul roam together.

Something To Consider is a five-track effort that showcases Barnes’ arranging as well as song writing. “I decided to use a non-traditional rhythm section,” she explains. “Instead of guitar layers, I am using a string quartet to create a signature sound that is acoustic and modern. Usually strings play Mozart but not James Brown. Combining funk as well as other elements with this unit, I’m branding it Chamber Fusic.” Preserving the organic textures of a song is what Barnes does best – and it comes through with “Wonder What You Are,” the first single from the EP. The strings and percussion drive the instrumentation while the lyrics question the rule makers of society: “What appears to be a problem / is another day for those who don’t bleed / take your privilege a little more seriously / and maybe one day we will solve all the mystery.”

From the beginning Barnes has been audacious both onstage and off. Raised a military brat, she started playing piano at the age of 10, and landed her first record deal in her teens. In her early 20s she wrote songs for Chaka Khan and Roberta Flack; and in 2000 came aboard SNL, where she worked for a decade and composed music for several reoccurring sketches, including hits like “Deep House Dish,” “Lawrence Welk” “What Up with That” and the Christmas Classic “Dick In a Box” featuring Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg. She was the band leader for season 1 of the comedy game show Oh Sit on the CW network, and the Rosie Show on OWN. In her personal life, Barnes is a cancer survivor who overcame adversity by undertaking her usual unorthodox approach – embracing what’s natural (i.e. alternative therapies and treatments). “ It’s amazing what lifestyle change can do.” Something To Consider brings together her stalwart spirit and the styles she loves in a way that is unique and organic. “As the repertoire expands, I hope people will hear a little bit of all the soulful influences I love in R&B, pop, classical and jazz. Why not bring them together?”

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