Ivana Santilli

Ivana Santilli


Ivana's new sound is chock full of the catchy hooks, sweet harmonies and infectious grooves of the period she considers to be the golden era of songwriting – the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Rich vocal harmonies married with 808 beats and easy flowing, lushly orchestrated arrangements predominate.


“If it swims we got it…” It’s a beautiful afternoon in the spring of 2005 in New York City and Canadian singer/songwriter Ivana Santilli has become mesmerized by the sight of the motto printed on the back of a fish truck. Although her two highly successful solo releases, “Brown” and “Corduroy Boogie”, have made her virtually a household name in her native Canada, on this day she’s found her inspiration in the often brutal directness that seems to represent the essence of Manhattan culture. This tri-lingual/multi instrumentalist/genre defying/critically acclaimed and award winning artist has long impressed crowds with her penchant for combining beautiful music, thoughtful lyrics and high energy live shows. Now Ivana’s seeking answers to the questions burning within her creative spirit: having achieved so much already, what can she do now to top herself, to exceed her own lofty expectations? Tours of Europe and the U.S. that fall further convince Santilli of both her international appeal and of her desire to reach the largest, broadest audience possible. This idea becomes a driving force as new songs begin to almost literally pour out of her the following winter. Always the musical explorer, Ivana’s new sound covers uncharted territory. After having previously dug deeply into such diverse musical styles as drum n’ bass, boss nova, broken beat and neo-soul on her first two albums, now an even stronger emphasis is placed on Ivana’s singer/songwriter roots. The new songs contain bigger hooks than ever and a songwriting approach that wouldn’t sound out of place on a vintage Hall & Oates album circa 1982. “I went back to a time where I didn’t even know I was being influenced… you know, those long car rides with your parents, that AM radio sound… Call them guilty pleasures, I call them great songs. A classic song never goes out of style, no matter how cool you profess to be.”

Born to an Italian father and French Canadian mother, Ivana’s background is nothing if culturally rich. Fluent in both French and Italian, she took up piano at the age of seven. However, it was the choice of her second instrument at age 10 that paved the way for her to perform with her father, a longtime stalwart on the music scene in Toronto. “I wanted to play the trumpet because it’s loud and as the youngest daughter, I needed to be heard. But when I told my dad I might instead learn the French horn, he replied: ‘mah, but who’s gonna hire you playing the French horn?’” Firm that she’d find more work as a trumpeter, he then handed her a book of South American standards and began taking his pre-teen daughter to his gigs. “Playing weddings in my father’s band was where I witnessed the art of entertaining. I learned how to please both the ninety-year-old grandma who wants to hear her precious Italian folk songs and the thirteen-year-old who’s only interested in the latest top 40 hits.” Her multi-instrumental capabilities, along with her striking beauty and undeniable onstage charisma, won her a place in the Canadian indie funk-pop group Bass is Base while still in her mid-teens. The group soon signed to Island records, recorded and toured extensively, charted regularly on Billboard, and otherwise served as Ivana’s indoctrination into the music industry. “The time with Bass is Base woke me to the idea of what I was supposed to be doing. Despite my father’s warnings of how he’d seen too many talented musicians starve, it was like I suddenly had insomnia; I couldn’t fall back asleep now.”

Feeling the need to spread her wings, Ivana departed Bass is Base after two successful albums and left several major label offers on the table in favor of a solo career with her own independent label. “I never wanted to feel confined as a musician, so the indie route appealed deeply to my creative senses. Plus I needed to find out who I was as a solo artist,” she says. “Brown”, her first solo release, sold almost 40,000 units, becoming one of the top selling independent albums ever released in Canada to that point. The success of the album propelled Ivana into the world of constant touring, interviews, TV appearances, and award shows. She toured alongside Canada’s top acts of the day: Barenaked Ladies, the Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, DeLaSoul, Tito Puente and James Brown. She collected a host of prestigious awards including album of the year from both the Urban Music Association of Canada and the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities. She was nominated for Much Music Video Awards and Juno awards. She even had a one hour Bravo special devoted to her. For the songstress it was all a bit of a blur, “an Indie typically has six-month shelf life but the demand for our live show kept “Brown” alive for over 2 years. Perhaps most satisfying was that our audience spanned all races, ages and genres.”

The next few years however proved somewhat difficult. Ivana had become the victim of an all too common music industry story: her distrib


Brown - 1999
Corduroy Boogie - 2004
TONY - 2008

Set List

75-90 minute Set Length