Born into a family of musicians from Upstate, New York, Calabria Foti (Cah-LAH-bree-ah FOE-tee) was completely immersed in music from the very beginning. Says Ms. Foti, As a kid I was always around some kind of music. On any given day, I could hear my mother playing Chopin Etudes in one room, while in another room my father would be playing Bach Partitas on trombone, and on another day they would be playing American Songbook standards together, like Gershwin, or Porter or Berlin, or sometimes a song they wrote. It was a great way to grow up!
Highly trained and gifted musicians, her parents passed on amazing intrinsic musical skills to their daughter (including an incredible memory and understanding of music after only one hearing) and their deep love for music and education. We were always going to classical concerts and jazz clubs, so consequently, I got a great deal of exposure to both sides of the musical tracks. I have been in love with all genres of music ever since. Calabria's first instruments were jazz guitar and bass. And because of her love for classical music, she also took up the violin and became very successful, including holding positions of concertmaster and associate concertmaster in several orchestras.
By age 12, in addition to playing several instruments and seriously studying the violin, Calabria was singing and performing in nightclubs and hotels with her musician parents and their colleagues. Her parents introduced her to the music of the vocalists who would become her biggest influences: Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr, and Judy Garland. Says Ms. Foti, I absolutely loved those singers, and the songs they performed are just so well-crafted and wonderful, and those artists made those songs their own. When I sing, I want to connect with my audience on that same emotional level, as well as on many musical levels. The artists that we remember most were not only great singers, but great performers, and great entertainers because they made that connection with the audience and made them feel good.