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Soraya Shaw Performances

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An independent voice on the jazz scene     Buy CD

Long Beach Press Telegram - September 13, 2003 By Luanne J. Hunt

THE PROSPECT OF signing a major recording contract is of no interest to jazz vocalist Soraya Shaw.  Although Shaw hopes for commercial success, the Los Alamitos resident is unwilling to turn the management of her career over to music industry executives.

She relishes her independence and believes that the freedom to create her own kind of music far outweighs the perks of fame and fortune.

“I’m actually too independent to sign with a major label, said Shaw, who performs Wednesday at Kikuya in Huntington Beach.  “It would sort of be like being in a corporation and I really need to be my own boss.”

Shaw began taking charge of her future in show business at the age of 4 when she took piano lessons from her grandmother.  At age 11, she began studying the flute and classical voice.

After graduating from Saint Louis University, Shaw performed and toured with the Muny, a musical theater group based in St. Louis.  She also has sung in numerous classical recitals and performed in the play, “What is Truth?”  under renowned opera director Colin Graham.

In the early 1990s, Shaw performed for two years with the St. Louis choir American Kantorei, under the direction of Johann Sebastian Bach specialist Robert Bergt.

To be closer to her father, who lived in Southern California, Shaw relocated to Los Alamitos in 1997.  She earns her living by teaching piano and voice and sees 30 students a month.

Early in her teaching, Shaw set aside her goal of becoming an opera singer.  She says the practice and study regimen of opera training took away too much of her family time.  She was raising two children as a single mom.

“I wanted to do classical music, but needed to keep on studying to get to the level I needed to be,” said Shaw, who holds a bachelor’s in fine arts and performing arts.  “I just couldn’t do it.  I was much more focused on my family and realized I was going to have to find a different avenue to do my music.

Shaw was always a fan of jazz and decided to get together with a jazz pianist she knew to experiment with some songs.  In those sessions, she became inspired to put a musical repertoire together.  Once her music was in order, she began working on her recently released CD, “Daydreams.”  The 13-song collection features jazz standards such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’” Sentimental Mood,” “For Heaven’s Sake,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Body and Soul,” and “Night and Day.”  Several of Shaw’s tunes can be heard on KKJZ 88.1 FM in Long Beach.

“Even before I moved out here, it was a goal of mine to do a recording,” said Shaw, whose influences include Kathleen Battle, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.  “I ended up tapping back into my creative side in the studio, which was very rewarding.  I wasn’t just singing the straight melody, but was creating my own way of singing it.”

Now that Shaw’s CD is completed, she is lining up performances and hopes to build a solid, local fan base.  She admits there have been challenges in handling her own career in the way of finding places to play and outlets for CD sales.

But in spite of the overwhelming task of independent promotion, Shaw says she has everything under control.

“I originally had a plan of just being a homebody and selling my CDs over the Internet,” said Shaw.  “But I’ve learned the best way of selling my music is to go out and perform.  I’ve recently started doing performances and it’s been a very positive experience.  I m having a blast! ”

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Last updated: 3 / 5 / 2006.