Well respected on the East Coast as an inventive jazz singer, arranger, songwriter and educator, L'Tanya Mari's much-anticipated debut CD as a leader, A Teardrop of Sun is due to be release early 2009. The project is an eclectic mixture of songs that include fresh versions of standards along with numbers that are lesser-known but quite worthy, ranging from straightahead jazz to bossa novas, sambas, blues and modern fusion. "Of the standards, I particularly love 'You Go To My Head,' says L'Tanya. "It connects with and means a lot to many people even though it is decades old. It tells a story that is still relevant and has a life of its own, qualities that I hope are true of all of the songs that I perform."
L'Tanya Mari', who grew up in Philadelphia, has always been surrounded by jazz. "I remember hearing Charlie Parker's recording of 'April In Paris' early on. Noticing that I was resonating more with fusion in my teen years, my father tried to tip the scales a bit by buying me some of the earlier recordings of Sarah, Ella and Carmen. That did it! By the time I was 17, I was out at record stores looking for other jazz vocal albums."
Early signs seemed to indicate L'Tanya was going to be an instrumentalist, as she studied cello for seven year and then added piano into the mix, “but as I tended to hum along with my cello playing, my cello teacher suggested that I should add singing to my list of goals."
While earning a Bachelors Degree in Music Business at Howard University, L'Tanya Mari' was also on her way to becoming a notable jazz singer. She began studying with the celebrated drummer-singer Grady Tate who influenced her phrasing, urging her to always connect with an audience by really feeling the lyrics. While residing in Washington D.C. and the north east corridor, sitting in at jam sessions helped her secure gigs, build up her skills as a jazz singer, and increase her repertoire. Hungry for a deeper musical knowledge, L'Tanya pursued a Masters degree in Jazz Studies at the University Of The Arts while coming into her own as a jazz singer.
Since her graduation, L'Tanya has become an active music educator in addition to performing regularly throughout the Philadelphia and Washington, DC metro area. "I enjoy learning from my students. I have a roster of 40 students on average, and everyone is different. Some are preparing to go to school for jazz vocal and studies, others just want to learn specific things like basic theory, while there are some who just want to learn how to feel comfortable singing in front of people. It is rewarding finding what they need and passing on the knowledge that I have."