6.26.12 Venissa Santi Group
Venissa’s artistry stems from the necessity to express the many influences that have nourished her spirit as a Cuban American. She was born in Ithaca, New York and hails from a long line of Cuban artists. But it was her grandfather, Jacobo Ros Capablanca, a Cuban composer who instilled in her a life-long passion for music.
As a child she grew up listening to the sounds of Ravel, Celia Cruz and Michael Jackson as well as theatrical productions and jazz. After completing high school, she moved to Philadelphia, where she enrolled at the University of the Arts, connected with her Cuban roots (via her grandfather’s compositions) and majored in Jazz Vocal Performance.
After graduation, she became actively involved in Philadelphia’s Latin community and music scene and began her career as a vocal instructor with the Asociación de Músicos Latino Americanos, better known as AMLA. Over time she performed with a variety of Latin, jazz and world music groups. It was from the support and encouragement of this community that inspired Venissa to embark on the first of four life changing visits to Cuba, where she conducted research and studied Afro Cuban song, dance and percussion.
She was under the tutelage of Master Gregorio “El Goyo” Hernandez and Masters dancers from Yoruba Andabo, Arturo Clave y Guaganco, Afro-Cuba de Matanzas and Irosso Oba and reconnected with her relatives in Cuba. In 2004 she became a wife and mother and went into isolation in order to process all of the information she had absorbed in Cuba. Venissa began to compose, what she calls “the soundtrack of her life’s journey thus far.” The result is an audacious new sound that defies borders, language and categorization.
In 2008 Venissa won the prestigious Pew Fellowship, for Folk and Traditional Arts. In 2009, she was signed to Sunnyside Records and released Bienvenida, which immediately climbed to #3 on radio show host and jazz expert, Bob Parlocha’s list of Top Ten recordings. In addition, she has been praised by Latin icon Ruben Blades and pianist, Danilo Perez, who called her treatment of the classic tune, Como Fue, “Audacious!”
Venissa is currently promoting her new recording at venues and festivals and is in the process of preparing new material for her highly anticipated follow up to Bienvenida. Perhaps it was Ruben Blades who put it best when he summed things up by saying, “I think we are going to be hearing a lot from this young lady.”
-Written by Tomas Peña
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- June 25, 2012 / 3:33 am
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