275 4th St E
St Paul, MN 55101
Charlie Christenson (vocalist, pianist, songwriter and educator), the current Head of the Voice Department at the McNally Smith College of Music (St. Paul, MN), received his Bachelors of Music in Education from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and his Masters of Music in Performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
In 2005, while still at LU, Christenson was recognized by DOWNBEAT Magazine as the Outstanding College Jazz Vocalist. After graduate school, he went on to work and teach at MSM in the Young People’s Division. During this time he also had the opportunity to perform with such greats as the New York Voices, Kurt Elling, and Eliane Elias and up-and-comers Fabian Almazan (Terrance Blanchard), Linda Oh (Dave Douglas / Herbie Hancock) and Roy Assaf (Dizzy Gillespie Big Band) in many venues including the Corniela St. Cafe, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the world-famous Birdland.
He later relocated to Southern California, where Christenson focused on songwriting and teaching, both privately and for Apple Inc. Not long after, he was offered the opportunity to become the Head of the Voice Department at the McNally Smith College of Music, in Saint Paul, MN, where he currently resides.
Fall of 2013, Charlie and his trio (where he writes, sings and plays keyboard) released their first EP, entitled Shipwreckee, on New York based, Biophilia Records. He is an active songwriter, performer, clinician and in the Summer of 2014, in addition to leading the Voice Department at McNally Smith, was named the Director of the Graduate Program. This year Christenson has planned to release two jazz standards albums, Vol. 1 and 2, the first focusing on latin tunes and ballads, and the second on swingers.
Christenson grew up listening to Michael Jackson and playing drums in a Led Zeppelin cover band. In college he produced a classic rock radio show and played piano in a salsa band. In New York, he sung with big bands and avant-garde free jazz ensembles, while spending his afternoons walking through Central Park listening to Bon Iver.
Christenson has studied privately with Peter Eldridge (New York Voices), Theo Bleckmann (Meredith Monk), Kate McGarry, Patrice Michaels, Fred Sturm, John Harmon, Matt Turner, Mark Soskin and Christine Salerno.
Christenson is a proud member of the Advisory Board for the Liquid Music Series (SPCO) and is a founding board member of Biophilia Records (NYC).
“Charlie is an adventurer, already well into the journey of finding his own original voice in the surreal and somewhat stilted world of jazz. He is natural and creative and completely unaware that he is the real deal, which of course makes him all the more compelling. I believe in what he has to say so much already, even in the short time we’ve worked together – I can’t wait to see all the places he’ll go.” – Peter Eldridge
“Charlie has a beautiful instrument and a beautiful mind. A gifted young composer, arranger and vocalist whose love and talent for jazz is a godsend for anyone worried about the future of this music. One to watch…” – Kate McGarry
“Charlie is a fantastic human being. I think that’s what makes his music so good, and why it’s so much fun to create with him. He’s intelligent which also makes him quick, and he brings a refreshing perspective to all situations, whether we’re reworking a standard or poking at some genre between indie, rock, folk, and jazz, or even just finding our place in today’s music industry. He really is the best kind of person you want to be around if you’re in music – he’s a great writer and player and educator, he’s consummately professional, and he is an authentic friend.” – Matt Edlund, Drummer