The Vernon Jazz Club welcomes back the warm Latin sounds of Stephanie Pedraza Saturday, Sept. 19.
A CBC Searchlight semi-finalist, Pedraza will be joined by Andre Stepanian on guitar, Lyndon Dewitt on drums and percussion, and Davide Sampaolo on percussion.
The band will be playing material from Pedraza’s first album, Where I Rest, along with upbeat Latin standards, pop arrangements, and some flamenco fusion.
Pedraza is a unique combination of singer, songwriter, guitar player, flamenco dancer, and cantaora, which is a traditional flamenco singer. She was born to a Latin American family who moved to Colombia when she was young.
Although she did return to Canada, Pedraza remained fully immersed in her Latin roots of song and dance. This explains why her original compositions are a seamless blend of traditional Latin rhythms, pop and jazz, with both English and Spanish lyrics.
“Although I grew up in Colombia and therefore was heavily influenced by Latin music, I have always been able to appreciate other forms of music. In fact, I have pretty much explored most forms ranging from classical opera to traditional flamenco and everything in between. If a style of music moves me I must explore it,” said Pedraza.
Music has always been a part of Pedraza’s life and upbringing.
“Ever since I was a young child, I was singing or making up songs on the piano,” she said. “It was in my teenage years that I really became serious about music and started my first rock band. I knew then and there that music was my passion and there was no turning back.”
Pedraza absorbed and learned as much as she could and went on to study music, later moving to Spain to pursue flamenco dance and singing.
She was selected two years in a row for the BOmm Bogota Music Market, which is one of Latin America’s largest music conferences for artists to network with music buyers and record labels such as Sony Records and Warner Music.
One of Pedraza’s favourite things about performing and writing is to share what she loves to do, to inspire others to pursue their passions, and to connect with others. Recently, she was able to do just this to a huge audience.
Her most recent tour in South America included opening for legendary singer Ana Gabriel at the Pascual Guerrero Stadium to an audience of 25,000 music lovers. This was an especially important show because it was in her hometown of Cali, Colombia.
Pedraza is currently in the process of writing a new album of original compositions to take to the recording studio next year. She will also be involved in a flamenco production with artists from Toronto.
Stepanian is a guitarist and composer whose sound has been influenced by a meld of musical styles including rock, blues, jazz, and flamenco. He met fellow guitarist Martin Simpson while in college and formed the Latin jazz band Alma Libre.
Stepanian has opened for the Rite of Strings at the Vancouver du Maurier Jazz Festival and has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He received 2001 West Coast Music Award nominations for best world and best instrumental albums.
Dewitt was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He started playing on a drum kit at the very young age of five. He can be heard playing with Doug Towle, Kyle Radomsky, Peter Davyduck, and Heidi McCurdy.
Sampaolo was born to a musical family in Italy and has studied piano, classical guitar and drums from an early age. After studying percussion at the Scuola Popolare di Musica di Testaccio and the TIMBA drum school in Rome, his travels brought him to Spain to study flamenco percussion in Seville, Cordoba, Barcelona, and eventually Madrid.
Pedraza and her band hit the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000-31st St.) Saturday. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the Bean Scene, Bean to Cup, and at www.vernonjazz.ca with a $5 rebate at the door for jazz society members. Cash only bar.