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Jazz vocalist René Croan’s debut CD, Renaissance, on Flat 5 is so assured and relaxed that listeners would never suspect she has been singing professionally less than three years and, to date, has only performed in three Virginia cities—Roanoke, Richmond, and Lynchburg. “When I was a kid,” she recalls, “I sang with an R&B garage band. But I married very young and then had a family to raise. One night after my son graduated from high school, I heard a not-very-good singer in a restaurant and thought, ‘If she can get paid for that, I know I can.’” The movie Lady Sings the Blues and subsequent exposure to Billie Holiday’s recordings pointed Croan in the direction of jazz. Renaissance’s 13 tracks, a mixture of standards (“Comes Love,” “Them There Eyes”), jazz compositions (“Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Dindi”), and renovated pop chestnuts (“Mr. Sandman,” “Tennessee Waltz”), demonstrate the warmth, sensitivity, and refined musicianship of this talented late bloomer. At present, Croan’s CD is unavailable in local stores, but it can be sampled at http://www.flat5.com and obtained by contacting Flat 5 at (504) 389-9427. (Joel E. Siegel)