Celisse Henderson was born into a bed of music, reared by professional musicians and music teachers. As a child, Henderson would defy her mother, the choir director at their church in Oakland, and toddle up to the front of the congregation right up to the microphone. Despite the elder Henderson’s efforts, baby Celisse held on tight. And the pastor simply said, “let the baby sing.”
Celisse is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer and spoken word artist. Her deep and varied career has seen her on stage, from the recent revival of Godspell at Circle in the Square Theater and the Broadway national tour of Wicked to Bridget Everett’s Rock Bottom at The Public Theater. On television, Celisse has appeared on PBS’s The Electric Company, 30 Rock, Rescue Me, The Big C, White Collar and more. She has also appeared countless times in concert with artists ranging from, most recently, Melissa Etheridge, Joss Stone, PHISH, Macy Gray and Mariah Carey to Bernstein’s MASS at Carnegie Hall and the various concerts of Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens and Bill Finn.
With her prolific variety of work, it’s her prodigious talents as a singer-songwriter and musician that have defined Celisse the most as an artist. Her original music, powered by her soulful voice, is hard-rocking and blues-tinged with infectious hooks that stay with you. Songwriter Matt Cusson has said, “the way she connects with the crowd, writes these brilliant songs and interprets them, and soulfully shreds on guitar is a talent I’m not sure I’ve ever seen. Not to mention she has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. When she sings, I lose my mind.”
A deft multi-instrumentalist, Celisse’s talents don’t end with vocals and guitar. Trained on violin at the age of two, she also plays piano, ukulele, bass, drums and varieties of percussion and brass. Oft-collaborator, Breedlove said, “she has power and control in her vocals which make witnessing her live performances akin to watching a top athlete compete. She competes against no one. Her creative athleticism is executed for our enjoyment alone, and it is true bliss to be her spectator.”