Hilary Gardner

Singer | Writer | New Yorker

NYC-based singer (mostly jazz) and writer. Lover of words, food, and all things Italian.


Click individual photos to download hi-res version. Credit: Shervin Lainez


Vocalist Hilary Gardner, described by The New Yorker as “a singer with a beguilingly subtle wit,” grew up a New Yorker at heart in the jazz hinterland of Wasilla, Alaska. Following stints in Italy and Seattle, WA, she moved to her spiritual hometown of New York City in 2003. 

Hilary’s recordings, The Great City (Anzic, 2014) and The Late Set (Anzic, 2017), have received critical acclaim from the jazz world’s major publications, with DownBeat Magazine declaring her “an artist to watch” and naming her a Rising Star Female Vocalist four years in a row. Her most recent album, Charles Ruggiero & Hilary Gardner Play the Music of the bird and the bee (SmallsLIVE, 2019), features jazz renditions of songs by the L.A.-based synth pop. All About Jazz awarded the album four stars: “Arresting and imaginative, the music is both in line with its origins and independent in style and spirit.”

In 2010, the Frank Sinatra estate chose Hilary to appear as the live, onstage singer in Tony-award winner Twyla Tharp’s Broadway hit, COME FLY AWAY. Backed by a 19-piece big band, Hilary sang solos and duets with Frank Sinatra in a performance hailed by critics as “wonderful” (Huffington Post), “elegant” (USA Today), and “terrific” (New York Observer).

Hilary performed with Jeff Goldblum and his band on Goldblum’s opening night at Café Carlyle, prompting New York Magazine to call hers "a voice worth seeking out." In the wake of her appearance with Goldblum, Michael Feinstein invited Hilary to be his guest on NPR's Song Travels with Michael FeinsteinShe was also a guest on Judy Carmichael’s SiriusXM program, Jazz Inspired. Hilary appears as a jazz singer in Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris’s 2017 Netflix mini-series, Wormwood, starring Peter Sarsgaard.

She is a founding member of Duchess, a Boswell Sisters-inspired vocal trio with Amy Cervini and Melissa Stylianou. Duchess has released two full-length recordings and a holiday EP, with a much-anticipated live album due for release in 2020. The trio has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Israel, and Europe on festival stages and in intimate clubs, with highlights including the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jerusalem Jazz Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, and the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. The trio has also made sold out appearances at Jazz Standard, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Rubin Museum. Duchess enjoys an ongoing collaboration with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, performing the music of the Andrews Sisters live onstage for Taylor’s seminal piece, Company B.

Hilary has appeared as a guest soloist with symphonies across the country, including the Minnesota Orchestra, Carolina Philharmonic, Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. She serves on the jazz voice advisory committee at Juilliard and performs as a leader throughout New York City and the United States.

SELECTED press quotes:

“A singer with a beguilingly subtle wit.” -The New Yorker

"Gardner evokes memories of another time and place." -NPR
"...an uninhibited answer to the young Doris Day." -New York Times
"A voice worth seeking out." -New York Magazine
"Gardner's ready to fly." -Seattle Times
"...a sound and vibe that makes you think she's the secret love child of Peggy Lee and Tom Waits." -Midwest Record
"Gardner is…blessed with an exceptionally pure tone and a simplicity of expression that brings out the nuances of the great lyrics.” 
DownBeat Magazine
"...an absolutely first-class singer.  She swings effortlessly without making a big deal of it, and she has a knack for hunting down off-center tunes…Yet she’s just as adept at making something fresh and surprising out of an oft-heard chestnut." 
-Terry Teachout, Author of Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington and Satchmo at the Waldorf 

"(4.5 stars)...a superb singer deserving greater recognition." -All About Jazz

“Gardner’s clear, strong voice recalls the sophisticated stylings of Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day and Peggy Lee, but each song had a bit of personal umami added to the performances, suggesting she had actually lived the lyrics...utterly convincing.” -Thomas Staudter, DownBeat Magazine

"Hilary Gardner is wonderful and deserves a spotlight." -Huffington Post
"The album has both variety and consistency…the capper is ‘Chelsea Morning,’ enlivened with Pan-American percussion and transformed into a mashup of Joni Mitchell and Ahmad Jamal." -Will Friedwald, The Wall Street Journal
"The tangy-voiced Hilary Gardner performed elegantly." -USA Today
"Hilary Gardner, like the great 'girl singers' of decades past, brings elegance and wit to every song she sings. She lends a touch of vintage cool to new material and makes the old songs sound fresh again."  
-Twyla Tharp, Tony & Emmy award-winning director/choreographer 
"Hilary is a superb singer: her multi-colored voice, her unerring time, her fine but subtle dramatic sense, her wit, her swinging ability to let the song pour through her rather than insisting that the song sit behind her...don’t ignore the exceedingly talented Hilary Gardner." -Michael Steinman, JAZZ LIVES
"If there is anyone who can evoke the class and sophistication of the 'girl singer,' it's Hilary Gardner. Her singing is effortless and intelligent with a personal warmth and musicality that makes for delicious listening."
-Janis Siegel (Manhattan Transfer), Grammy Award-winning vocalist and arranger