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One Cool Cook

Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Carla Cook stopped by The Saturday Early Show to perform a few of her latest singles from her CD, "Simply Natural," for the Second Cup Café.

Time magazine had written "Cook can cook," but listeners of her music should not expect to hear just jazz in her voice. Cook says her Motown roots influenced her singing. Her contralto voice is tinged with hints of gospel, pop and R&B.

Cook started her singing career in her Detroit, Mich., church choir at age 5. She spent years studying voice at the Detroit Community Music School as well as with private piano and string bass teachers. She played the latter in her high school orchestra.

In college, she continued her education with the pursuit of a degree in speech communication at Northeastern University in Boston, where she also studied music and performance.

Cook has been featured as both bandleader and featured vocalist for many years, most notably with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. She has performed in Brazil, Europe, parts of the Middle East, West Africa and her home of America.

Cook's debut album, "It's All About Love," was nominated for a Grammy in 1999 for Best Jazz Vocal Performance and was also nominated for Best Recording Debut by the Jazz Journalist Association, and received the AFIM Indie Award for Best Jazz Vocal.

Her second release on Max Jazz, "Dem Bones," was highly praised by critics, some calling the album a minor classic.