Jazz and blues vocalist Catherine Russell, a native of New York City, was born with distinctive bloodlines. Her father was Luis Russell, the renowned big-band leader who was born in Panama and lived in New Orleans and New York City. He was a groundbreaking vintage jazzman — a pianist, composer/arranger, and most prominently, the music director for Louis Armstrong in the mid-'40s. Her mother was Carline Ray, a veteran jazz bassist, vocalist, graduate of the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of Music, and famous for performing with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Wynton Marsalis, among many others. Naturally, Catherine Russell was influenced by old-time blues and jazz singers like Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, and Etta James, as well as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, and gospel and opera music. But she was a late bloomer, not establishing a recording career as a leader until much later in life.