Born and raised in Turin, Italy, to music loving parents (who had actually first met at a jazz concert), two-times Grammy nominated singer Roberta Gambarini grew up constantly listening to her father’s record collection. Her first vocal inspiration was the music of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald , but she soon discovered Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday,and Carmen McRae, as well as gospel and blues artists such as Mahalia Jackson and Bessie Smith. At age 12 she began studying clarinet, but realizing the versatility and talents of her clear alto, she moved to voice, singing and performing in clubs by the time she was 17.
In 1998, Gambarini received a scholarship to study for two years at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Barely 2 weeks after setting foot on american soil for the first time, Roberta surprised the jazz world by being one of the runner-ups in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition.
With this recognition as a springboard and the assistance of some of the greatest musicians in the world, who immediately appreciated her talent and invited her to perform with them, she quickly became a fixture on the international jazz circuit, appearing in major concert halls, Festivals and clubs around the globe ( Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Hollywood Bowl , Jazz at Lincoln Center , the North Sea Jazz Festival, and many more) .
As a result, Roberta has had the good fortune to appear in concert and record with such Giants as Dave Brubeck, James Moody, Hank Jones, Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Michel & Randy Brecker, Jimmy Heath, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Cobb, Al Foster, Slide Hampton, Frank Wess, Harold Mabern, Toots Thielemans, Paquito D’Rivera, Chucho Valdez, Mark O’Connor, Cyrus Chestnut, Percy Heath, Ron Carter, Johnny Griffin, the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars Big Band, Billy Higgins, Cedar Walton, Ray Drummond, George Cables, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Burrell, Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra, and many others.
Roberta’s first American release ‘Easy to love’, earned the accolades of fans and critics alike and prestigious Grammy nomination, as did her third, ‘So in love’ ,which was also awarded the Grand Prix du Jazz Vocal 2009 by the Jazz Academy of France.
She was twice named the “Female Jazz Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association (2007 & 2009 ). One of the most important music figures of the 20th century, the late Benny Carter, cited Roberta as his favorite singer. James Moody, the legendary saxophonist and singer, was Roberta’s mentor and teacher, and introduced her to many of the major venues in the world.