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."
Venissa Santi - Vocals
John Stenger - Piano
Jason Fraticelli - Bass
Francois Zayas- Drums
"Bienvenida" released on Sunnyside Records April 2009
Played nation wide on Jazz Radio
"Tender Shepherd/ Little Girl Blue", "Talkin' To You"
Venissa Santi "Bienvenida"
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Stepping onto the world music stage with her first solo album, Cuban-American songstress Venissa San...Stepping onto the world music stage with her first solo album, Cuban-American songstress Venissa Santi not only serves up 10 wide-ranging tracks as fresh and invigorating as spring rain, but accomplishes it almost single-handedly. Not that she isn’t provided superior accompaniment, particularly by Rodriquez brothers Michael (trumpet) and Robert (piano), bassist Yunior Terry and drummer/percussionist Francois Zayas. But Santi produced the disc, shaped all the arrangements and wrote two of songs.
Divided almost evenly between Spanish and English, Santi’s selections range from boldly modern interpretations of such Cuban classics as “Como Fue” (reinvented as a fiery blues with inspired assistance from two special guests, guitarist/bassist Jeff Lee Johnson and organist Barry Soames) and the warmly beguiling “Lucerito de mi Amor” (written by her grandfather) to a satin-lined reading of the Gershwins’ “Embraceable You,” adorned with an ingenious vocalese bridge, and a delightfully imaginative pairing of the Peter Pan lullaby “Tender Shepherd” with Rodgers and Hart’s “Little Girl Blue.”
Impressively, Santi’s own compositions, both written in English, shine just as brightly. Her “Talkin’ to You” involves a feisty lass bidding a firm, if somewhat reluctant, adieu to a vainly recalcitrant lover, while, in the spirit of Leon Russell’s “Superstar” and so many like-minded pop anthems, “Wish You Well” simply but expertly tells the tale of a girl left on the sidelines by an overly ambitious rock star wannabe.
1 Hr 20min
There are no upcoming dates at this time.