PITTSBURGH 3D




Roger Humphries


From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.


Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?


Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.


For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.


Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.






Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin



       In Her Own Words
Michele Bensen
  • Female
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • United States
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Latest Activity

Michele Bensen commented on Yvonne McBride's event Crossroads ~ An Oral History: The Culture. The Music. The Legacy
"Who will be speaking and performing at this event? Sounds interesting. "
20 hours ago
Michele Bensen might attend Yvonne McBride's event

Crossroads ~ An Oral History: The Culture. The Music. The Legacy at Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at Kaufmann Center

April 17, 2015 from 12pm to 2pm
Please join us for a storytelling luncheon celebrating the history, resilience, and spirit of the Hill District community.Guests will be treated to a live Jazz performance and a preview of stories from the Crossroads Oral History Collection. See More
20 hours ago
Michele Bensen liked Yvonne McBride's event Crossroads ~ An Oral History: The Culture. The Music. The Legacy
20 hours ago
Michele Bensen replied to Dr. Nelson Harrison's discussion MEmber Anne Robin Friedland passed on sunday MArch 22, 2015 in the group OBITUARIES
"RIP Annie. She will be missed by many of the Pittsburgh music community. She had a great talent and was a composer as well. Sincere condolences to her family."
Mar 24
Michele Bensen posted videos
Mar 21
Michele Bensen posted a status
"Read Victor Wooton's "Music Lesson", it's fabulous."
Mar 21
Michele Bensen posted videos
Mar 19
Michele Bensen posted videos
Mar 18

Profile Information

Favorite website
Favorite blog
Pittsburgh Connection
I was born in Chicago and came to Pittsburgh when I was 7 years old. Pittsburgh will always be my home no matter where I travel.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
My list would be WAY too long. Pittsburgh has been blessed with many jazz legends who helped lead the way nationally. Jazz continues to grow and be handed down through the generations here. The city of Pittsburgh has an abundance of talented musicians.
Favorite Jazz Radio or media station
WJAS 1320 AM 91.7 FM BIGDADDY JAZZ with Patrick Arena on Friday's 7 to 10pm in Washington, PA
Listen to Michele' new CD with Bob Alberti at
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
I miss The Encore and The Balcony, both were on Walnut St in Shadyside, and the Crawford Grill in the Hill District. Those clubs helped to keep musicians working on a steady basis in Pittsburgh. Cardillo's Club Cafe, Dizzy's, Dowe's were short lived in town but offered great venues for performers as well as patrons. CJ's in the Strip District has Jazz with Roger Humphries on Thursday nights. The Backstage Bar, The Cabaret at Theater Square and Manchester Craftsman's Guild offer weekly Jazz concerts.
About Me:
Born in Chicago and raised in Pittsburgh, Michele Bensen, began singing professionally at the age of 16, performing in various Pittsburgh jazz nightclubs, theaters, hotels and restaurants. Michele began singing at a very early age in The Angel Choir at Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park, PA, where her mother taught Sunday School in the 60’s. She studied trumpet for eight years with Franklin Woodbury/ Pittsburgh Symphony, piano with Mrs. Marty Batiste at church, in addition to taking lessons in dance with Maryetta Evans, and musical comedy/drama with Mr. Lane Merrill at the renowned Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Michele has sung to audiences on the East coast including being the headline act on the Queen Elizabeth II and M/S Westward Cruise Liners, and guest artist at Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas for three years.
She has performed at the old and new DUPLEX in NYC.
Michele won the 1988 “Backstage Best Bistro Vocalist’award from Backstage critic, Bob Harrington. She has opened for comedians, Angela Scott, Mario Joyner, Joy Bahar, Mike King, Kevin Meany and comedy writer, Maxine Lapiduss.
Bensen has been the opening act for Tony Bennett, The Four Freshmen, Lionel Hampton, Diane Schurr, John Blake, Jane Ira Bloom and Herbie Mann as well as being the headline act with her own band, "The Bensen Burners". She has been in concert with national musicians; Bob Alberti, Ben Tucker,
Keter Betts, Roger Humphries, Carl Fontana, Harry Allen, Dave Pike and Peter Appleyard.
More than 30 million children hear her as the voice of "Sara Bear"on the children’s “Sticky Bear" software. Her radio voiceover work includes a national commercial for “A Drug Free America”.
Her first CD "At Last" which features the Pittsburgh based
Bensen Burner Band, with Mark Strickland / guitar, Robbie Klein / sax & flute, Steve Trettle / drums, Herb Marshall / bass & trombone, Keith Stebler / piano, was recorded in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
In 1988, Michele won Bob Harrington's "Best Bistro Backstage Vocalist" Award from Backstage Magazine,voted Best Vocalist for 3 consecutive years from "In Pittsburgh", received the Walt Harper "All That Jazz" Award and also was inducted into "The Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame" in 2009.
Michele was honored with The Pittsburgh Living Jazz Legend award on Sept. 28, 2013.
Allegheny County Council awarded a Certificate of Appreciation to Michele Bensen on January 14, 2014 for her contribution to Jazz in the city of Pittsburgh, PA.
Bob Alberti, Pianist, Arranger, Conductor,
Sun City, South Carolina
“Michele is a joy to hear and a pianist’s dream to play for. She makes an accompanist’s day!”

Frank Military, Warner/Chappel Music, Inc. Senior VP NY,
“I think this is the greatest new jazz singer to come along in many years and will be around for the new millennium and thereafter. This is an outstanding CD, “At Last”.

Joe Negri, Guitarist on “The Mr. Roger’s Show”,
“Michele is a joy to work with and a joy to listen to, too!”

Ben Tucker, Bassist, Composer, Owner of Hard Hearted Hannah’s & WLVH/101.1 FM Savannah, GA
“It’s not often that you find an audience that becomes thrilled and excited to hear and see a performer such as Michele Bensen. She becomes electrifying and very brilliant in her performance, whether she is singing the blues, a ballad or a Broadway composition. She’s always on the money! She puts herself in the middle of it, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Michele is it when it comes to singing.”

Ann Butler, writer Pgh. Post Gazette
”When Michele sings, people do far more than listen -- they feel, they move, they become immersed in her crystal clear sound and bask in the expressive energy of her voice. It's a voice that time and again has brought audiences to their feet reveling in her spirit. Bensen communicates to her audiences; she can make you laugh and she can make you cry. It comes from her heart.”
Artist or Fan
artist, industry professional

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Luther DeJarunett, A World Class Musician.

Posted on March 12, 2011 at 1:00am 7 Comments

Losing people we love and cherish in our lives is never easy. Having to say farewell, dear friend for now, seems hard enough, but when it's unexpected, when it happens suddenly, we are shocked beyond belief. Hearing the words, "Luther is gone, he passed away tonight", was more then I could comprehend. It sounded so surreal, but it was true. My heart was broken and I was speechless.

How many hours had he and I talked about life…


We'll all miss Gene Ludwig

Posted on July 16, 2010 at 1:51am 2 Comments

Losing people we love is hard, no matter how you look at it. Time eases the pain but the longing to hear their voice and see their smile again can remind you of how much you cherished their friendship. Being able to hear the music they created and performed can help us heal the loss we feel. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, so make and create all the music you can for generations…


Comment Wall (10 comments)

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At 8:44pm on August 19, 2013, Aicha said…

Hello Dear, I will like to get acquainted with You, I have something Special to share with You, Contact me via email

Miss aichasy

At 3:46am on December 25, 2011, Dr. Nelson Harrison said…

At 1:05am on June 09, 2010, Dr. Nelson Harrison gave Michele Bensen a gift
At 7:27pm on November 7, 2009, Schrubbel said…
Hi Michele ! Greetings from Schru .Cologne/Germany.
At 6:09pm on October 24, 2009, Shawnee Lake said…
I will be quitting my job and will have time to hang out and hear your beautiful, soulful renditions of so many of my favorite songs.
At 6:29am on July 12, 2009, Jerry Butler said…
Thank you for adding me as "your" friend...Please tune in to my talk radio show that airs each Mon-Thurs 7-9pm EST....Friday 5-8pm EST @ ...I would love to feature "you" as a guest on my show!!!...Interested???...If so,please call me @ 757 538 0821....cell...757 971 3733 or call in to the show @ 646 929 0434...also simply go to view the show schedule....don't meet me there...Beat me there!!!...JB

I would love to feature "you" as a guest on my show...The radio show is geared towards helping business owners,entrepreneurs,unsigned talent,and anyone else get added exposure to their business...INTERESTED????...if so, first go to BLACKSTARTUPBIZ.COM...sign up...become a member...Click 2 BE A GUEST..then call me @ the offc...757 538 0821....or cell 757 971 3733 so I can then set you up a date and time to be a featured guest....also if I am not your friend please add me as your friend...thanx...Please join my network would love to have "you" there!!!...also while there check out my interviews with Erotic Author Zane...Twista...his new single "Wetter"...and my interview with Berry Gordy's new artist Leigh Jones and her wonderful music as well!!!!...JB

OUR GOAL is to INSPIRE people of EVERY Race,Creed and Color to be THE BEST THEY CAN BE!!!!
At 10:32pm on February 26, 2009, Kennard Williams said…
Thank you for your response. The rendition of Song For My Father you did at the Hazlett Theater not long ago is the best I've heard...Bravo!

Best wishes,

At 1:08pm on April 10, 2008, david shane said…
thank you for the welcome! and to think you've been as warm on the radio waves since day one...thanks for your sound - a better world because of it....i would never have guessed anyone would want me as a member of their club!...I'm still adjusting to these electric communications devices of today, takes me a while to catch on, all still seems rather rip van wrinkle syndrome, you know....perhaps we can speak again one day in person! until then, ciao!
At 8:25pm on March 1, 2008, Chris Pangikas said…
Hi Michele,
You page looks great. Thanks for inviting me on the network. You are a great singer and musician and have always been one of Pittsburgh's great vocalists.
At 7:48pm on February 25, 2008, stephen boyd said…
Hi Michele, Really appreciate you getting me back into the loop. I've heard your singing great these days. I'd love to buy a copy of your last CD, so let me know how we can make it happen. Hope to see you and hear you in the spring. Take care. -Steph

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