Kat Parra
 
  Kat Parra quit her job as a graphic designer at Cisco Systems, Inc. to pursue her passion for music and she’s never looked back. Since then the award-winning composer has released three critically acclaimed CDs, been invited to perform in Amsterdam, Brazil and Mexico as well as top-tier venues throughout the United States, earned the designation “Best Latin Jazz Vocalist of 2010 and 2008” by Latin Jazz Corner, and received a 2008 nomination for “Latin Jazz Album of the Year” from the Jazz Journalists Association.

“After having successfully raised two children as a single parent, I felt it was time to finally pursue my dream of being a full-time musician,” says Parra. “I came to realize I didn’t want to die wondering ‘what if…? Music has always been an integral part of my identity, but after receiving my Bachelor of Music degree I knew that as a single parent my financial circumstances would not allow me to focus all my attention on a full-time music career. As I raised my children I performed with various bands of many different genres, which allowed me to hone my vocal skills as well as my stage presence. It was an audition for Cirque Du Soleil in 2005 that made me realize the possibility of my dream. Once my youngest son was finished with college I was able to take the leap of faith and dive head first into this new adventure. Nov. 3, 2006 was my last day in corporate America and I’ve never been happier!”

In addition to singing fluently in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Parra has the rare ability to sing in the dying language of Ladino, or Judeo-Espanyol, which enables her to interpret Sephardic music (Music of the Spanish Jews) faithfully. “This is the language of the Spanish Jews, an antiquated form of Castilian that also includes words from Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish and many other languages. It is an amalgamation of the Sephardic Diaspora, and it is my small way of helping to preserve this language. It is still spoken, but in very few places and mainly by the older generations in Turkey, Israel and in homes across the globe.”

On her newest CD, Las Aventuras de Pasión, to be released in the Summer of 2012, Parra is taking her listeners on a musical journey around the globe that is full of passion, combining the voice with instruments and rhythms to create a vibrant and exotic world music sound. The majority of the songs have been created with a sparseness to showcase the voice with varied instrumentation. She has pulled from classical music, afro-cuban, middle-eastern, afro-peruvian and all the way to the ancient sounds of Sephardic music. It is amazing how well all these different styles live so harmoniously together! The CD features sparkling arrangements by Latin jazz heavyweights Murray Low, Wayne Wallace, David Pinto (Susana Baca), and Mads Tolling (Turtle Island String Quartet). On her previous CDs (Birds in Flight, Azucar de Amor and Dos Amantes), Parra included repertoire that delighted critics and jazz fans alike. She is now daring herself even more with this new endeavor by creating a much sparser and vulnerable environment for the voice.

As on her previous CDs, Parra has teamed up with producer Wayne Wallace, a major player on the Bay-area Latin jazz scene. In addition, Patti Cathcart Andress (Tuck & Patti) lent her expertise to this project as a consultant after becoming enamored with this music’s unique beauty.

Parra’s ace ensemble consists of Murray Low (keyboards, music director); Masaru Koga (woodwinds, percussion) Chris Lopes (acoustic bass); Dan Foltz (drums); and Katja Cooper (percussion).

Parra has leapt beyond the boundaries of the typical Latin jazz singer. With her thirst for the exploration of myriad world rhythms and tonalities, she has developed a style of music that encompasses sounds that transcend and bend the stereotypical definition of Latin jazz. She has incorporated not only Afro-Cuban music, but also Afro-Peruvian, Middle Eastern, South American folklore, and Nueva Trova. With this multi-lingual and multi-musical approach, Parra is able to captivate her audiences with exciting and vibrant World and Latin music.