Marcela Pinilla
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Marcela Pinilla

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Latin Jazz

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Discovered at the ripe age of four in her native Colombia, Marcela’s singing career began in traditional style with a Spanish Musica de Tuna group in Bogota. Awards and accolades in various singing competitions followed until Dreams Machine recruited Marcela in 1995.

“My time with Dreams Machine was the first instance in which I really felt like I could be a singer for the rest of my life,” Marcela remembers. “It was then that I knew what I was going to do.”

With the artistic fire burning brightly, Marcela joined Nueva Epoca and began gaining recognition as a Latin Pop performer. With Epoca, Marcela got her first taste of a grand stage performance, singing at Bogota’s Media Torta, a staple venue for established groups.

Marcela had found her calling, but wanted to share her music with the rest of the world. She joined Tropicaribe in 1998, and embarked on an 8-month tour of Southeast Asia. The trip introduced Marcela to an entirely new audience, and to the life of a road musician.
It was on one of those tours in Asian that Marcela discovered Jazz, and her style changed forever.

“I just walked into this bar called Niche in Kuala Lumpur and there was this woman scatting,” Marcela said. “I had never heard that. I didn’t know you could make those kinds of sounds with your voice.”
Inspired, Marcela joined Jazz Latino and continued performing in both Asia and South America. During this time she attended collegiate classes in Kuala Lumpur and Qingdao, China.

As she gained recognition in the region, Marcela was invited to perform at several notable Jazz festivals, including the Sunrise Music Festival, the Kuala Lumpur Music Festival and the Kuching Jazz Festival.

In 2007 Marcela moved to Singapore to explore playing with a different brand of musician and a unique set of venues. It was in Singapore that Marcela blossomed as a solo artist.

“Singapore was a human experience,” Marcela said. “It was so eclectic that it was the perfect situation to evolve as a solo artist and a band leader. There were so many players from so many different countries. I performed with players from Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, America, Italy, England, Australia, France and of course Singapore; everyone had a new story.”

Marcela spent three years in Singapore learning from this melting pot of musicians before moving to Memphis, TN, to embark on yet another regional evolution. In Memphis Marcela met American blues and soul first-hand, and has incorporated them into her style ever since. “It’s very soulful here. I learned more about the emotion, about people playing from their heart.”

She is committed to making music that brings people together. “I love seeing how the audience in my concerts is so eclectic and for the duration of the performance we are all brothers and sisters living in peace, I love that and that is the reason why I write songs and sing” Pinilla said.

In addition to her solo projects, Marcela performs and records with several local Memphis bands and artists, including “A message from Memphis” with the Bar-Kays, Orquesta Caliente and Gerard Harris’ World Soul Project.

She currently lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, a piano, and a garden gnome.