Captivating, soul stirring, earthy and funky. These are just some of the words used to describe the song stylings of LeNard Rutledge. Growing up in Miami, Florida, LeNard was always surrounded by many different musical styles. His parents had an extensive music collection ranging from Classical, Jazz, Hymns and the funk of James Brown. At age 5, he received his first drum-set. It wasn’t long before he would be playing along with the many songs in his parents collection.
In the fall of 1984, LeNard went to St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC. LeNard was awarded a Band Scholarship by Dr. Harold Jeffries (Director of Bands). It was in Raleigh when LeNard’s musical journey took flight. In the fall of 1984, he recorded two jingles for WLLE, a local AM radio station. He played drums, co-wrote and sang background vocals.
In 1992, Stanley Baird, an area saxophonist, asked LeNard to submit songs for his upcoming CD, Stop, Look & Listen. Stan recorded three of his songs and released them on his label, Saxony Records. In 1995, LeNard submitted two of those songs to the Billboard Songwriting Contest. One of the songs, So In Love (with you) placed in the top 1% of 50,000 R&B entries.
In May 1997, LeNard moved back to Miami and auditioned as a vocalist for the Melton Mustafa Orchestra. He got the gig and was the featured vocalist until 2003. LeNard he has been a featured vocalist at area Jazz spots in South Florida. The Van Dyke Café, the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Ritz Carlton, The Loew’s Hemisphere Lounge Jazid, Joe’s Stone Crab, The Arts Garage are most notable. LeNard has shared the stage with a number of highly respectable jazz artists such as: The late George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Nnena Freelon, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kenny Drew Jr., and The Fred Thomas Band.
In May of 2006, LeNard was named BEST JAZZ ARTIST, by the Miami New Times magazine. His first CD release, Hello World, was released in November 2006. In early 2014, LeNard will embark on a European Jazz Tour.