Antoinette
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Antoinette

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Antoinette Manganas is an R&B and Jazz vocalist from the Pittsburgh area. Her style has been compared to the likes of Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday, and Sade. She grew up in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where she was exposed to famous musicians like Perry Como and Bobby Vinton through her father, Reolando Nunzio Conte.

Manganas’ first professional performance came on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, and she has since performed at various small and large scale venues across the city. She recently signed with Pyramid Records, with the release of her debut album “Verbal Crush” in October 2008.

I notice that you perform a great deal in Pittsburgh. Do you ever travel further from home to sing, and if so, where?
I’ve performed all over the country. My most recent concerts this past month were at the Tangiers in Akron Ohio with Norman Brown and also in Cleveland with my friend Howard Hewett.

Tell me about some of your musical influences growing up?
I am used to listening to all genres, but “growing up” I liked the old school R&B. Some of my favorites were Frankie Beverly and Maze, Earth Wind & Fire, and of course Chaka Kahn. As time passed I discovered a lot of the jazz artists like Nancy Wilson, and even Frank Sinatra.

How have you adapted your performance style to the changes in music over the years?
I write, so I have an open mind. As far as what’s out there now, for me, a song has to tell a story. I write about everyday life, my songs are about love and family and things that I relate to. That’s how I’ve sort of changed from the old school of music. Old school songs were basically a lot about syrupy romance. Today it isn’t. I kind of see what’s happening in my life and what’s happening out there and write about it.

What are some projects that you have in the works now?
Right now, I’m signed to Pyramid Records/Fontana, A Universal Music Group Company, based out of Miami, Florida. I’m writing more of my own music and the label loves it. I have a song that I wrote called “Where Do We Go From Here.” Howard Hewett formerly from Shalamar will feature it on his new CD. My CD “Verbal Crush” will be release this October. When I am not touring and performing I spend my time writing and creating more songs.

Do you see yourself transitioning from performance into production/writing full time down the line?
I do it full time now, so absolutely. My hopes are that I will always be able to perform as well

What are some venues that you perform in frequently?
For the time being, déjàVu Lounge every Saturday 1pm – 4pm. I’ve performed there for three years faithfully.

Where do you enjoy singing the most? dejaVu?
For the Pittsburgh area, yes, and the LaMont in Mount Washington; I’m there every Monday. I just love the audiences at both of these rooms.

What advice would you have for someone trying to break into the business?
Do your homework about what you need to do. It’s definitely a passion of mine. You have to follow your heart, but be wise, because the music is a business. Get a great manager and a professional booking agency. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you get into it and understand that it takes a lot of work. Don’t go into it thinking you’re going to become a star right away, stardom follows success. Make a decision to be in it for the long term. If you’re ready to work and willing to make a lot of sacrifices on a personal level, then I believe you can to make it happen for yourself. - Cameo Rowe


Pittsburgh Native Antoinette Tops Off 2008 With A Remarkable Debut CD “Verbal Crush

(Pittsburgh, PA) Antoinette Manganas’ official debut disc, Verbal Crush on Miami based Pyramid Records, isn’t just another promising effort from a talented female vocalist. It’s the culmination of a longtime dream, and passion, experience and dedication ooze from every note.

The Pittsburgh-based vocalist, whose music encompasses contemporary adult pop, jazz and R&B, always dreamed of singing. She recalls her father listening to Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, Sammy Davis Jr, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, her sister playing the Beatles and Chicago. Her own tastes ran to Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind and Fire, Frankie Beverly and Chaka Khan.

Manganas grew up around music and came from a traditional family. She married young and had three children. Four years ago, divorced and working in the deli she owned, she felt like she’d reached a dead end. One day, a customer suggested that her voice was wasted on sandwich-making, and it struck a chord. She hung up her apron.

Manganas started playing around town. Word spread quickly, and soon she was playing choice shows in the Western Pennsylvania area and beyond, making contacts with the musicians and producers who contributed to Verbal Crush. They include her producers, Chicago-based Larry King, jazz/R&B drummer Norman Connors and Donald Tavie, and Howard Hewett of Shalamar, who duets with her on her self-penned tune, “Where Do We Go From Here.”

Verbal Crush reflects the full scope of Manganas’ musical tastes. It kicks off with the most unusual track, which completely reinvents that reliable resident of jazz repertoires, “Summertime,” as a throbbing, sensual, techno body-mover that oozes heat and sensuality. The Connors-produced tracks, “Where Do We Go From Here,” “Special” and the dynamic “My Love Is All That (originally intended by Connors for Phyllis Hyman), have a classic 1970s R&B flavor that demonstrates that Manganas can hold her own alongside the likes of Chaka, Patti and Anita, while the velvety smoothness of her version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive” challenges Sade.

Jazz vocal fans have heard “These Foolish Things” many times. Manganas brings new insight and airy warmth to the oft-performed standard. And everyone’s heard Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smile” and Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” a thousand times. She brings a fresh vision to such familiar pop tunes, mining them for nuance while remaining faithful to their essence.

The understated arrangements throughout allow Manganas’ voice, with its delicate tone and bullseye phrasing, to shine. Nowhere is this demonstrated more vividly than on her take on Barry Manilow’s “Could It Be Magic.” Stripped of its schmaltz, it acquires a sleek, sophisticated aura. Tavie contributes the lush pop ballad “Show Me,” while the King-produced “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” is a classic seduction song, epic in its sultriness.

Though it’s been long in coming, Verbal Crush announces the arrival of a stellar vocalist in Antoinette Manganas and will leave listeners eagerly anticipating hearing more from her.

- Sunburst Entertainment


Discography

Verbal Crush - Pyramid Records/Fontana (A Universal Music Group Company)

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Bio

Sometimes your time comes when it comes and there’s not much you can do but be open and ready. That certainly applies to Pittsburgh-based vocalist Antoinette Manganas, whose music encompasses contemporary adult pop, jazz and R&B. After years of being discouraged from following her dream of a music career, Manganas took a deep breath and jumped in four years ago, making a commitment to making her dream come true.

Manganas grew up around music and always dreamed of singing. She recalls her father listening to Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, Sammy Davis Jr, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, her sister playing the Beatles and Chicago. Her own tastes ran to Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind and Fire, Frankie Beverly and Chaka Khan. She soaked it all up. But in her traditional Italian-Argentine family, she says, “My parents were always, ‘keep the peace; do what you have to do and keep other people happy.’ My father was protective and didn’t want me on the road.”

Four years ago, divorced and working in the deli she owned, she felt like she’d reached a dead end. “I was paying everyone else and I was taking home $10 a day. One day I was making a gyro and someone came in and said, ‘Antoinette, with a voice like yours, you should be singing.’ I said, ‘You know, that’s right. I should. I’m outta here.’”

Manganas contacted a Pittsburgh booking agency, put together a band and a set list, and started playing around town. Word spread quickly and soon she was playing choice shows in the Western Pennsylvania area.

“It all started at a little place called Déjà vu in the Strip District in Pittsburgh,” she recalls. “We played there regularly and people were loving it. People were hungry for this music. There was this woman Donna Ambrogi, that used to live near me and we sort of knew each other from the neighborhood. Donna came in one day and said she heard this voice – (we have speakers outside) – and when she heard it was me, she was amazed. She came to me like an angel, invested in my career. Together we worked hard and started our own company, Milestone Entertainment.”

Manganas began recording, putting together a release called Angel Eyes. She recorded a tune she’d penned called “Where Do We Go From Here” recorded as a duet with former Shalamar vocalist Howard Hewett from nearby Akron OH. Its R&B flavour caught the ear of an Atlanta promoter who brought Manganas down there to perform at an R& B festival in front of 3,000 people. There she made contacts that led to work with name R&B producers and artists from bands such as Lakeside and the SOS Band.

But setbacks followed. She was ripped off by people who had promised to help her, Angel Eyes never got proper release, and a new recording that combines Angel Eyes tunes with new material was picked up by an indie record company, but they couldn’t follow through on release due to lack of funding. Now signed with Miami based Pyramid Records, Manganas’ music will finally be readily available to the public.

“I know in this business you don’t become an instant star,” she says realistically. “But I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

The new disc, titled Verbal Crush, reflects the full scope of Manganas’ musical tastes. Among its twelve tracks are a version of Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smile;” the Barry Manilow hit “Could It Be Magic” redone in jazz style; the duet with Hewett; the Norman Connors-produced “My Love Is All That,” originally intended for Phyllis Hyman and given to Manganas by Connor because he felt she resembled Hyman; Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive;” and a club/lounge remix of the classic “Summertime.” She’s deftly supported by David Crisci on piano and Jason Miller on saxophone.

“I combine the sound of today with old school,” says Manganas. “Back then, it was about romance. There’s a lot of old-school soul but also a sultry jazz side. They’re heart songs, with a lot of emotion and passion in the music.”

Today, Manganas is chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. With her kids grown, getting married and having kids of their own (her tune “A Song for Stella” is about her granddaughter), and support from her once-reluctant family (she’s even on good terms with her ex), she’s ready to take her music to the world. She feels it’s fated.

“My time is now,” she says. “I feel like God has preserved me for now. I’m very spiritual and I know in my heart this is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s like I’m at the end of my war and I’ve got to have victory. It’s my turn and I’m taking it.”