Lili Anël
Gig Seeker Pro

Lili Anël

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Jazz Adult Contemporary




"Lili Añel brings her acclaimed music career from New York to Philly"

Lili Añel remembers when her Havana-born father would tell her stories of peeking in the windows of the original Buena Vista Social Club to watch the dancers and feel the rhythms. Añel is a second-generation American of Afro-Cuban parents and Philly singer-songwriter who has a new project forthcoming from Philly’s Winding Way Records.

“My mother played a lot of jazz along with Cuban and native African music at home. One set of albums she always played was the The Complete Cuban Jam Sessions,” she remembers. “The song forms were Cuban, but the performances were heavily jazz-oriented. I loved the combination of styles!”

Taking the feeling home

Those fatherly tales of music past and her mother’s love of the sounds coming from the descargas inspired this inventive artist to explore the heart of whatever she was feeling with her extraordinary voice and her guitar.

Born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, Añel absorbed the atmosphere.

“I sang in church as a kid, the usual story. It always made me feel I had a straight line to God.” She began writing songs, and then taugh herself how to play guitar. “I loved music and wanted to do what the songwriters I’d go and see perform did for me,” she says: make you carry the songs’ feeling with you when you went home, or maybe resolve your own feelings.

“I’d go hear Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, or Joan Armatrading and say, ‘God, I want to do that.’”

She was a voice major at the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts at City College before she embarked on a career deliberately bumping into people who would get her to another level of expression and expertise.

Song sensibilities

When she got a bit older, Añel frequented the jazz clubs in the city, especially Seventh Avenue South in Greenwich Village, owned by Michael and Randy Brecker, famous Philadelphia jazzmen who had migrated to that mecca early in their careers.

Michael Brecker was a huge influence, she says of hearing him there. “I have often said if the sound that came out of me was a tenor saxophone, I’d be beyond happy. Brecker’s playing had what I call ‘song sensibilities’ — he knew what to play and what not to play.”

Her first album, Laughed Last, debuted on Palmetto Records out of New York, but Añel retraced the Breckers’ steps back to Philly when she fell in love 14 years ago. Since then, she has made this city her own and is currently on the Philly indie label Winding Way, which will release a “best of” album at the end of December, including highlights from her seven acclaimed projects. 2013’s “I Can See Bliss From Here” topped the charts on WRTI Temple University Radio three times that year, and made 2014’s Top 100 Jazz Countdown in 2014.

“Better Days”

Añel has a rich voice that adjusts easily to whatever she happens to be saying/singing at any particular moment, glissing seamlessly toward the sky or skimming along the rich earth of life’s deeper meanings. She can exude deep softness or erupt with a full-bodied cry. Her songwriting uses everything she heard and felt as a girl, swirling her past into her present concerns, skillfully using the stuff she likes most about other women singer-songwriters. Her lyrics make her story yours, like the best lyrics always do.

In addition to the upcoming Winding Way “Best of” CD, Añel is working on a new project with her longtime bandmates: pianist Dale Melton, bassist Jeff Blount, and drummer Jonathan Whitney, plus newcomers tenor saxophonist Korey Riker and trumpeter Christopher Stevens. She can’t say what the project is about yet, but “the songs reflect life where it’s at right now for me.” The title track, “Better Days,” was cowritten with her twin sister Barbara, an accomplished, classically trained pianist. “Our grandfather often said to us when times were tough, ‘Better days will come.’ He was right.” - Broad Street Review

"Jazz Album of the Week: In Spirit, an Anthology from Lili Añel"

April 8, 2019. Raised in Spanish Harlem, singer/songwriter and guitarist Lili Añel has always remained connected to, but never bound by, musical roots in Latin jazz. That Añel’s output over the past two-plus decades has been, progressively, more and more musically diverse is a testament to this.

But just in case you weren’t yet sure, In Spirit, the newly released anthology with selections that span Añel’s career arc, confirms this versatility and the sheer stylistic breadth of her oeuvre.

The first cut, “Another Place, Another Time,” a bossa tune from 2017’s album of the same name, features Philadelphia treasure, Larry McKenna, on tenor saxophone. No one outside of Stan Getz accompanies a bossa nova singer like Larry McKenna; it’s as though Añel and McKenna have worked tireless nights in the lab distilling the very essence of Getz and Gilberto’s bossa nova—except the effortlessness of the sound belies this fantastical notion. When asked about the way she and McKenna vibe on the bossa tunes, Añel said, “I could not imagine it sounding any other way.”

Also reprised from Another Place, Another Time is “I Don’t Care (Groucho’s Blues),” a tune Lili co-wrote with her twin sister, Barbara. Anel’s voice here, and elsewhere, is as forthright as her lyrics, refreshing because it is free of the affectations other singers too frequently adopt to sound like other, more recognizable voices. It’s actually quite hard to peg who, if anyone, Lili Añel sounds like, and that’s the way she seems to want it.

“Something to Do,” cherry-picked from 2013’s I Can See Bliss from Here, takes us back to Añel’s childhood on 110th St. in Spanish Harlem, where money may have been tight but the son montunos and the cha chas were always in surplus. So full of nostalgia, candor, and self-effacing humor, the lyrics here might, for the Broadway fan, call to mind the title track from Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights.

If you think you might dig these tunes, you ought to know: Not only does Ms. Añel reprise them on In Spirit, she also played each one live at WRTI’s Performance Studio last year. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss a thing— all that great content can be viewed in full video and audio on WRTI’s VuHaus channel! - WRTI


Laughed Last, 1994

Dream Again, 2007

Every Second In Between, 2009

I Can See Bliss From Here, 2013

Hi-Octane Coffee, 2015

Another Place Another Time, 2017

In Spirit, 2018

Better Days, Coming October 2019



Lili Añel (Eulalia Añel) is an American singer-songwriter and performing artist in Philadelphia, originally from New York City.She was born in El Barrio, Spanish Harlem and raised in the South Bronx.

Lili has recorded and performed with many legendary musicians over her career including Drew Zingg (Steely Dan, Alana Davis, Gladys Knight), Frank Vilardi (Donny Osmond, Jill Sobule, The Bacon Brothers), Seth Glassman (James Brown, Paul McCartney, Maceo Parker, Carol King) and Johnny
Gale (co-producer Ryan Shaw “This is Ryan Shaw”).

She’s also the recipient of New York Music Awards 2010: Best Singer-Songwriter, Best Jazz Album and Best Female Jazz Vocalist.

Lili resides in Philadelphia, performs at venues and festivals, enjoys radio airplay, and was listed on USA Today’s Playlist by Steve Jones.

Band Members