Bio

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“… a moveable feast of Latin Music styles… [Her vocals are] beautifully shaped; her grasp of [the] archaic Judeo-Spanish style is remarkable.”
— Philip Van Vleck, Billboard Review

“… an exceptional world-music ambassador…” — Chris Loudon, JazzTimes

“Parra isn’t content with tried and true formulas. Since the release of her impressive 2006 debut she’s been creating an ambitious, often unexpected, repertoire.
Parra possesses a voice with personality and soul.”
— Andrew Gilbert, NPR’s “California Report” All Music

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 five 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, SONGBOOK OF THE AMÉRICAS, Parra pays tribute to women composers from both North, Central and South America as well as original music and lyrics penned by Parra. Parra’s voice is fluid and flexible as she imbues each of the songs on the CD with her own personality and style. This is a richly textured musical journey that reflects Parra’s adventurous spirit. Drawing on a wide range of cultural influences, she creates music that is both familiar yet strikingly original.

Accompanying Parra are some of the finest musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area, including her long-time collaborators, Grammy-nominated trombonist Wayne Wallace and pianist Murray Low, both stalwarts of the Latin jazz scene. She is also joined by special guests that include María Márquez, a popular singer from Venezuela, Nate Pruitt, a SF Bay Area living legend, and Tuck & Patti, who join Parra on her original tune “Dare to Dream.” Parra studied voice with Patti at San José State University and considers the singer to be her musical and spiritual mentor.

Parra’s core ensemble consists of Murray Low (piano, music director); Masaru Koga (woodwinds, percussion) Aaron Germain (acoustic bass), and Dan Foltz (drums). This project also includes special guests Michael Spiro (percussion), Raúl Ramírez (cajón), Colin Douglas (drums), Marc van Wageningen (electric bass), Wayne Wallace (trombone), John Worley, Jr. (trumpet), Seth Asarnow (bandoneón), Sascha Jacobsen (acoustic bass), and Lila Sklar (violin).

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.