Jazz Singer Chris Murrell Passes

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (CelebrityAccess) — Chris Murrell, an American jazz and gospel singer who toured as the lead vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra, has died. He was 61.

Born Byron Christopher Murrell in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Murrell attended Wake Forest University where he studied theater and graduated in 1979.

In 1986 he was invited to be a guest vocal soloist at a concert featuring longtime Count Basie orchestra leader Frank Foster. After Foster heard Murrell's rendition of the Billy Strayhorn standard "Lush Life" he invited Murrell to join the orchestra as a featured vocalist, a position he would retain until 2002.

In 2002, Murrell released a solo album, Reprise, citing Tony Bennett as one of his greatest influences.

Murrell passed on June 18 in Winston-Salem. A cause of death was not disclosed. – Staff Writers