Born: May 10, 1978 Primary Instrument: Vocal
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.
Awards:Pew Fellowship 2008
Bienvenida es muy sabroso! Such a pleasure to listen to as a complete start- to-finish performance. Filled with many surprises. Venissa’s voice is mixed beautifully with a coy yet sultry nuance. As an old radio announcer I am impressed with her microphone technique. It is very intimate but perfectly controlled . The arrangements and musical selections are excellent and the band is perfect. --Stan Dunn, Radio KJAZ San Francisco/Slacker.com
Venissa Santi- is a refreshing spirit, an extraordinarily talented and diverse musician with a knack for making the unexpected so welcome, so understood. Bienvenida is not only a rich offering of gorgeous familiar and original melodies, it is a testament to the art of blending old and new wrapped in the warmth of her sensual voice. With her stellar supporting cast, Santi gives us new sound that defies borders, language and categorization. This album is a treasure, as is this gifted singer-songwriter. --Rebeca Mauleon, Latin Jazz Pianist/Author/Educator
Venissa brings an evocative fresh sound to Latin rhythms. Her compositions and arrangements are inflected with a jazz sensibility, adding texture and depth to her music. Definitely an album to have, and a voice to listen for! --Elio Villafranca, Cuban Jazz pianist
...Venissa Santi of Philadelphia is excellent. I think we’re going to hear a lot from this young lady! --Ruben Blades, rubenblades.com
“When I hear a singer like Venissa Santi ...what I love is her audacity that in a song like this there doesn’t exist limitations, such that this is a Bolero and it should be played with bongos etc. so she breaks those standards and introduces it as a Blues... When music is made with a sense of adventure and creativity you actually could affect how people think in the world …what she is doing impressively is breaking stereotypes and that fills me up with so much satisfaction and so much energy to continue ahead, ...knowing that there are no routines and that things should be interpreted in a certain way. I would love to go to Chicago and see a blues player try to sing “Como Fue” it’s incredible. Her voice has a tone that is very original and very special. I believe you hear that voice and you won’t forget it” --Danilo Perez, Latin Jazz Pianist/Composer
“This young woman has chops, singing with passion and gusto in the band's own composition, Malecon and an off the hook rendition of Yambú. I mean not just her voice, but her stage presence and when she started moving those hips, Oh Lord, I think all the guys in unison said, Oh yeah! She's Cuban. This was a great opening act and a good sign of things to come. Hopefully, they'll be back to the New York area soon. By the way, they come from Philly”. --Omar Walker, SalsaPower.com
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Concentration in Jazz and Latin styles of singing and repertoire. Classical based, healthy, contemporary techniques for todays singer. Breath control, development of the "one voice." Vocal improvisation, ear training, vocal work outs, lyric interpretation, performance/mic technique (Stage and Studio), Chorus, Music Appreciation (kids), Afro-Cuban/rumba singing, partial list.