Project: Ivan Lins
Kenia has been characterized by many as one of the most excitingly unique performers you can hear today. Born in the exotic city of Rio de Janeiro, she reflects the pulse and intensity of her native Brazil through diversified style. Her deep tone and excellent choice of repertoire have been cited by Dana Black, of the Daily News, New York, as a 'sure sign of expertise'. Jazztimes magazine has described her as 'a wonderfully expressive vocal instrument that throbs with sultry intensity, it's low key, yet ultra bright'. Kenia's voice has the infectious charm of Astrud Gilberto; a persuasive whisper that takes on more power in her native Portuguese, but equally evocative in English. In fact, it is perhaps Kenia's ability to apply the more accessible English lyrics without losing any of the wonderful Brazilian touch, that has made her so very popular with the 'Adult Contemporary' audience. In 1980, Kenia migrated to the United States to pursue a career as a solo recording artist. Inspired by a variety of musical influences, ranging from Brazilian greats Elis Regina, Ivan Lins and Djavan, to the American stars George Benson and Stevie Wonder, Kenia launched her career in the Jazz World. In 1984, Kenia was invited by stellar trumpeter Claudio Roditi, to appear on his album, 'Red on Red', produced by Creed Taylor, which also featured fiery saxophonist Paquito D'Riveira. Kenia's suave, velvety tone lent magic to 'Madalena' and 'Little Tear'; both tracks garnered extensive airplay on radio stations nationwide. This success led to an association with Ricky Schultz of Zebra Records/MCA, yielding two highly acclaimed solo projects entitled 'Initial Thrill' and 'Distant Horizon'. 'Initial Thrill' lended itself to special guest appearances by Michael Brecker, Chuck Loeb and Dick Oats amongst others. 'Distance Horizon' counted with a repeated guest appearance by Chuck Loeb as well as Mark Soskin and Manolo Badrena. Both albums provide an engaging mixture of Brazilian and American songs, all delivered with a sense of 'ease' and 'breeziness' that came to characterize Kenia's style. Her association with Denon Records in 1989, brought about the release of an album featuring a more 'Brazilianized' style. Due mainly to her search for her own roots, and achieved by the introduction of trombonist-composer-arranger, Jay Ashby, who composed the title song 'What you're Looking For', which occupied top 12 spots on Billboard charts for a few weeks. Their work together helped Kenia develop the 'be-bop/samba' beat. That approach gave the album a magic touch. Not to mention the wonderful collaboration of more special guests such as, Larry Carlton, Alex Acuna, Perri Sisters and Luis Conti. The song 'Over the Rainbow' sparked up the surprise in Kenia's voice and brought jazz audiences to their feet. 'Love Lives On' was Kenia's second album for Denon. Keyboardist Greg Karukas is responsible for 'Celebrate the Night', and the title cut, both hook-laden charmers. Appearing, as special guests are Peter Erskine and Patrice Rushin. On this project Kenia gave the old standard immortalized by Billie Holiday 'Good Morning Heartache', a Brazilian treatment. She felt it was her own way of paying homage to the honesty Billie brought to every song she sang. 'Love Lives On' is further of Kenia's magic and of music's genuine universality. Throughout her career Kenia has appeared as guest artist on several recordings. Among them, trumpeter Claudio Roditi's 'Red On Red', guitarist Jonathan Buttler's CD 'Jonathan Buttler', the great saxophonist Justo Almario 'To the Max', and legendary pop singer/songwriter James Taylor's 'Only a dream in Rio'. Kenia also participated on the sound track for 'The Devil's Toothpick' where she also wrote the lyrics for the theme along side Romero Lubambo, for the composition by Donald Harrison, with special appearance by Brazil's great Gilberto Gil among others. After taking a few years off to focus on raising her two sons and studying music, Kenia started her own label, Mooka Records and produced a CD consisting entirely of Ivan Lins' compositions, 'PROJECT: IVAN LINS'. This project also features special guests such as Romero Lubambo, Jay Ashby and Ivan Lins, himself, who sings 2 duets with Kenia, on 'Closer to me' (Mudanca dos Ventos) and 'Even you and I' (Lembra). Although this is perhaps Kenia's most Brazilian project to date, she never seems to lose that 'certain something' that has always made her music transcend geographic and musical boundaries.