Carla Helmbrecht

“… imaginative…poetic and sophisticated…She’s hip without being frenetic, laid-back without sounding haphazard, and best of all, the lady swings without sweating…the lyric writer’s best friend.” -Harvey Siders, JazzTimes

“She exudes warmth in spades…An unusually gifted vocalist, impeccable phrasing…steeped in a swinging jazz sensibility that reminds me of Mel Torme….”
-Carol Archer, R & R Magazine

Grammy-nominated singer/song-writer, Carla Helmbrecht, began her love affair with music at the age of eight. A native of Wisconsin, Carla was raised in a large music-loving family and had an inherent desire for music. It was her father who introduced her to jazz, and it was not uncommon for the entire family to spend endless evenings making music. By age 13, she was singing professionally and continued her musical studies through high school and college. Early influences included Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Julie London, Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, and Blossom Dearie. Her dual career in music and Speech Pathology has given her a unique understanding of the balance between vocal efficiency and expression in this fragile instrument – the voice.

Carla has enjoyed living in San Francisco since 1997 – performing, recording, and teaching. She tours both nationally and internationally and has been a featured artist at special events/venues like the KXJZ Sacramento Jazz Concert Series, the cabaret production “Sassy Divas”, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival, the Katy/West Houston Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s (Oakland), JZ Brats (Tokyo), the Blue Room (Kansas City), and the Fillmore Jazz Fest. She has had the great pleasure of sharing the stage with the likes of Tony Campizi, Bob Mintzer, Louie Bellson, Peter Horvath, Ernie Watts, Brad Leali, Cyrus Chestnut, Claus Raible, Alvester Garnett, and Akio Sasajima.

Her first two solo recordings with Heart Music (Austin, TX) showcased a collection of jazz standards and originals, joined by a host of world-class musicians. ONE FOR MY BABY (1994) quickly moved to a prominent position on Gavin’s Jazz Chart, featuring Clay Jenkins (trumpet), Kim Richmond (sax), Chris Seiter (trombone), and Frank Mantooth (piano and arranger). BE COOL BE KIND (2001) debuted as “the most added jazz record on radio in the nation”, and reached #8 on Gavin Jazz radio and received three Grammy nominations, featuring Ernie Watts (saxophone), Joe LaBarbara (drums), Tom Warrington (bass), Peter Horvath (piano & arranger), Clay Jenkins (trumpet), Michael Spiro (percussion), and Larry Koonse (guitar).

Carla released two recordings in partnership with guitarist Akio Sasajima. HERE’S TO LOVE (2004) featured them in a collection of jazz standards and jazz-ified pop tunes. The backing trio includes Akio (guitar), Harvie S. (bass), and Peter Horvath (piano). QUIET INTENTIONS (2012), released by Tonegold Records, features just the duo in a collection of some favorite jazz standard ballads.

Other discography includes SEEIN’ THE LIGHT… HEARIN’ THE HUB-TONES (Sea Breeze Records 1997), TRUMPOP (Steffen Kuhn 2008), and JAZZANOVA (20180, produced by Akira Tana, also featuring Arturo Sandoval and Branford Marsalis.

In media, Carla is a featured artist in Scott Yanow’s book, THE JAZZ SINGERS – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE (2008, Backbeat Books, Hal Leonard Corp, NY). She can be heard singing on popular television shows, such as THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS (ABC), THE DISTRICT (FOX), and recent ShowTime Movie, SIXTEEN CANDLES. Major motion picture, SMILE (2005) features a recording by Carla entitled, “Vanishing Romance.” She is featured in Hallmark Movies, WINTER WONDERLAND (2013) and THE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT (2013) and major motion picture, HEARTSHIP LOVESHIP (2014).


Windmills of Your Mind // Carla Helmbrecht - Sample Album
  1. Windmills of Your Mind // Carla Helmbrecht - Sample Album