An independent voice on the jazz scene
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
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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