Dee Alexander’s careers on campus, onstage

Dee Alexander

Dee Alexander has two careers: one on campus, the other onstage as an internationally known jazz vocalist. Photo: Alex Rauch/UIC News

Hear Dee Alexander talk about her music, her work with R. Kelly and the influence of Sun Ra, in a UIC News podcast interview.


Walk into the Office of Research Services, and the first person to greet you might be internationally recognized jazz vocalist Deleatrice Alexander, better known as Dee.

Alexander has worked at UIC for about as long as she’s been singing jazz: 22 years.

Known for her vocal style, which integrates the sounds of instruments and birds into her songs, her honors include a 2012 3Arts Award, Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year and two Chicago Music Awards for Jazz Entertainer of the Year. She’s one of 25 Chicagoans selected for the Chicago Reader’s People Issue 2012.

Alexander has performed around the world and close to home, appearing at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Ravinia and Millennium Park (including a tribute to Nelson Mandala led by Orbert Davis, UIC clinical associate professor of jazz and education).

She’ll appear Jan. 28 at “The Dinner Party” at Chicago’s Mayne Stage before traveling to Italy with her own group, Evolution Ensemble, for the release of a live album recorded there last year.

How does she successfully combine her careers on campus and onstage?

“I work all day and then I’ll go home, get ready and go do a gig,” she says.

“Some people say, ‘You still have a job? Why are you working?’

“I make the best of both worlds and I am grateful for it.”

Her next album will be a project close to her heart.

“What I want to do is a tribute to my mother. I want to call it, ‘Songs my Mother Loved.’

“It’s going to be some of the songs I grew up on, that I listened to her singing.”


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