Pain Relief Beyond Belief





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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    Easy Living
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    East of the Sun
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    Michele Bensen & Chris Pangikas - The Christmas Song


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Michele Bensen posted a status
"Happy New Year 2024 to everyone on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network. Let's make this a good one!"
Jan 6
Michele Bensen liked Dr. Nelson Harrison's discussion Broadway Legend Maurice Hines Dies at 80
Jan 6
Michele Bensen left a comment for Alan Kitchener
"Hello Alan, welcome to the Pgh. Jazz Network. I understand that you want some information about the late guitarist, Luther DeJarunett. Can you let me know what it is that you need please. I'll try to help."
Dec 29, 2023
Michele Bensen and Alan Kitchener are now friends
Dec 29, 2023
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Dec 14, 2023
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Dec 7, 2023
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EVD liked Michele Bensen's status
Dec 7, 2023

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
Pittsburgh has ( ) that plays jazz.
Listen to Michele's 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. Newer places in town continue to crop up from time to time. A good source for club schedules would be the local jazz radio station WZUM and possibly City Paper. Check out for local performances.
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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Michele Bensen's Blog

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 to hear and feel the…


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At 6:10pm on November 11, 2017, Bob Garvin said…

Michele, You wouldn't remember me, but there were many many times I went to your performances to marvel at that unique and powerful voice. Once---at the Balcony I believe---I offered you a copy of Anita O'Day's biography in case the life of a female singer doing one-nighters on tour with the Krupa band might interest you. I still have a flyer from an appearance of yours during your time in NYC.  Keep that voice thrilling Pittsburgh Jazz fans. Is your daughter following in your footsteps?      Bob Garvin, Bandera, Texas

At 8:53pm on November 30, 2015, Sharynn Harper said…

Happy Birthday Michele.  Birthdays are so wonderful reminding us that we have so much to be thankful for.  Hope your's is musical and festive and filled with lots of "song" !!

Sharynn Harper, New York

At 3:25am on November 30, 2015, Annie Cosmides said…
Happy Birthday Michelle! Your music always brings me joy!
At 2:52am on November 30, 2015, Dr. Nelson Harrison said…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Michele!!!.  Celebrating by listening to and sharing your music with the membership.  Beaurtiful.  Many blessings and Happy Returns.

At 10:33pm on September 7, 2015, Christopher Dean Sullivan said…

Hey Sister Michele, I trust all is well. I digg your page, and you're singing lovely as ever. I look forward to seeing you sometime in the near future.

Christopher Dean Sullivan

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

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