Cassandre McKinley

Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments
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A native Bostonian, Cassandre McKinley started a career in film and television upon entering her freshman year of high school. By 16, she had already signed with a New York talent agent, begun taking weekly private voice instruction, and attended a long series of intensive music programs that specialized in vocal performance. After high school, she attended the Boston Conservatory, majoring in musical theater and voice. She has now had an accomplished career spread over three decades as a professional singer, dancer, actress, voiceover artist, and print model.

McKinley is best known for her powerhouse voice, stylistic versatility, and ability to cross genres effortlessly. Renowned for her spirited, emotional performances, she has a presence on stage that is exuberant and passionate, yet warm and disarming. She has shared the stage and recorded with greats such as Dick Johnson, James Cotton, Clay Obsorne, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, and J. Geils, among others. She has toured nationally and internationally, and her music can be heard on more than 500 radio stations and cable and internet music outlets.

After the release of several well-received, straight-ahead jazz albums, McKinley released a soul-inspired jazz cover album in remembrance of Marvin Gaye. It generated local buzz and attracted the attention of MAXJAZZ, a St. Louis, Missouri, label that signed McKinley and rereleased (and retitled) the album Til Tomorrow: Remembering Marvin Gaye. The work was hailed by JazzTimes magazine as “a rich, sensual salute,” and the album's steady success in straight-ahead and crossover markets, both nationally and internationally, cemented her career as a prominent artist. 

Career Highlights
  • Solo recording and performance artist
  • Albums include Til Tomorrow: Remembering Marvin Gaye, Baring the Soul, Stay the Night, Right in Front of You
  • Appeared on Doug Bell's Doug Bell and Friends and Gaye Tolan Hatfield's Yesterday Once More
  • Radio airplay nationally and internationally on more than 500 jazz and smooth jazz stations, as well as Pandora, SiriusXM, and iHeartRadio
  • Featured articles and reviews in national newspapers, magazines, and online publications including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Downbeat, New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe
In Their Own Words

"As an experienced recording artist and performer, I love sharing my real-life perspective and insight into the industry with my students so they are able to establish reasonable expectations and career goals for themselves. Knowing what is expected of you as an artist is imperative to a successful launch into music as a career. Having someone speak to them honestly about those expectations, how to prepare musically (and emotionally), sets them up for a more empowered and rewarding introduction when the time comes."

"My students and I have a unique bond that I foster by encouraging open, honest communication and enforcing a solid work ethic. This results in positive, productive lessons and a shared excitement when goals and milestones are met. I live for those moments because it truly highlights how awesome that teacher/student bond really is."

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