Born in Oklahoma, Champian Fulton has become a world class Jazz pianist and vocalist with international acclaim. She grew up with music in the home; her mother and father (Jazz trumpeter and educator Stephen Fulton) recognized her fascination with music at an early age. The presence of her father’s musician friends, including Clark Terry and Major Holley, inspired her focus on Jazz. Her first paid musical engagement was with her own band at Clark Terry’s 75th Birthday Party; she was 10 years old. Since then, her piano and voice skills have been recognized by peers and critics as distinctive and sophisticated. This young woman from Oklahoma captivates audiences in New York’s finest Jazz rooms and in concert halls around the world.
A mainstay on the vibrant New York Jazz scene, she has performed with musical royalty such as Lou Donaldson, Frank Wess, Eric Alexander, Buster Williams, and Louis Hayes. From New York to Barcelona, Champian’s swinging style and charismatic performances have made her a guardian of the legacy of Jazz. Champian›s heroes include Bud Powell, Red Garland, Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, and Dinah Washington.
Jazz education is a concern near and dear to Champian’s heart, having been inspired by Clark Terry’s tireless advocacy for the perpetuation of the craft. Clark coached her on rehearsal techniques, performance etiquette, private teaching, and the business of the Jazz. Champian strives to impart this unique knowledge to students around the world, while being involved in educational programs such as Litchfield Jazz Camp and Rutgers Jazz Institute. Her skills as an educator in Jazz come from the highest authorities as she works to perpetuate the Jazz language.
Champian is ambitious about recording her music. As a leader she has five recordings to her credit while still in her twenties. Her debut album, Champian with David Berger & the Sultans of Swing (2007 Such Sweet Thunder Records) was recorded following a two–year residency at the famed New York Jazz Club Birdland. Her following releases Sometimes I’m Happy (2008 Venus Records) and the breeze and I (2010 Gut String Records) featured her working trio. Champian Sings and Swings (2013 Sharp Nine) was acknowledged as "one of the top ten Jazz releases of the year" (NY Observer). Champian’s fifth recording, Change Partners: Live at the Yardbird Suite (2014 Cellar Live), was recorded in front of a live audience while on tour in Canada.
Recognized as a Rising Jazz Star by the Downbeat Magazine Critic’s Poll (2013 & 2014), Champian’s "galvanizing presence" (the New Yorker) and her alluring musical presentation have made her "a charming young steward of the mainstream Jazz tradition." (The New York Times)
Champian's much anticipated album, After Dark, was released in Feb 2016. After Dark features the music of Champian’s hero, Dinah Washington, and she is accompanied by Jazz luminaries David Williams on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, and Stephen Fulton on flugelhorn. Each tune was handpicked by Champian to reflect her personal favorites of Dinah›s legendary repertoire; from well known standards such as "Ain't Misbehavin" to lesser known hits such as "Keepin Out of Mischief Now", you can expect every song on the album to transport the listener and "remove the dust of everyday life," as Art Blakey would say. Champian says "[Dinah] has comforted me when I needed it, made me laugh, and warmed my heart. In recording this album of her songs, I hope to do the same for my listener. I hope this record makes you smile, feel loved, and brightens your evenings. Put it on in those quiet moments After Dark."
April 2017, Champian released her latest project, "Speechless" on PosiTone Records. This recording project was something entirely new for her, because it features 9 original instrumental compositions (meaning: there's no singing on this album). She viewed this project as an opportunity to focus on composing and her love of the piano unencumbered by singing, and the project has been received well by not only fans, but the Jazz community in general.
Champian also released a Christmas Album in November 2017 called "Christmas with Champian." The Album features David Williams on bass, Fukushi Tainaka on drums and Stephen Fulton on trumpet and flugelhorn.
Champian was awarded Female Jazz Vocalist of the Year in 2017 by the readers of New York’s renowned Hot House Jazz Magazine!
"[Champian’s latest release, Speechless] is jazz as party music and entertainment: it’s anything but rote or slick. There’s a jubilant, fearlessly improvisational quality to these songs."
– New York Music Daily
"Fulton’s voice is deep and resonant, her phrasing nuanced and stylized in the way of traditional jazz singers. But her persona is modern and upbeat."
– The New York City Jazz Record
"A charming young steward of the mainstream jazz tradition..."
– Nate Chinen, New York Times
"...the best new singer I've heard this year - make that several years."
– Francis Davis, The Village Voice
"...the most gifted pure Jazz singer of her generation."
– Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press
"Champian Fulton swings! She’s a fine singer and a highly skilled pianist with impeccable taste in tunes. Champian’s also a refreshingly warm and gracious stage presence. It’s been my pleasure to feature her music on Jazz a la Mode over the past 5 years, and to see her whenever she’s in the area."
– Tom Reney, New England Public Radio