Mayo grew up in the studio with his mother, a singer and father, a saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist. “They would go on tour, sing with people like Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson… all the greats,” Mayo recalls. He listened well and his musical identity was formed long before he hit the stage with his own interpretations of contemporary music, R&B and jazz standards.
After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music, Mayo was coached daily by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Herb Alpert, Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Heath while earning his MFA from the prestigious, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance — an achievement only three jazz vocalists have won. He also received masterclass training from Dianne Reeves — multiple Grammy award winner and NEA Jazz Master Award winner.
Mayo’s career highlights include performing at The White House, The Kennedy Center, on the PBS program “American Voices” with operatic soprano Renée Fleming, as well as the Panama Jazz Festival. He’s recorded and/or performed internationally with Herbie Hancock, Kneebody, Michael Jackson, Usher, Matchbox 20 and Josh Groban, to name but a few. Mayo’s own band was a standout group at the 2019 Playboy Jazz Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival and Monterey Jazz Festival.
“Without a doubt the best young male jazz singer in Los Angeles.” LA Weekly
“But in terms of young talent deserving wider recognition, a high-water mark for the fest was vocalist Michael Mayo, a Los Angeles-based singer who employs his agile, gospel-tinted voice as a bridge between jazz and R&B.” DownBeat
“…towering vocal range, crystal-clear articulation and expert use of electronics.” Jazziz
“Jazz on stage is alive and it’s a very intimate exchange… You have to listen so you can respond and keep the conversation going. You do that so impeccably well!” – Dianne Reeves to Michael Mayo on PBS’ “American Voices.”