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Take Five With Gia Mora

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Gia Mora:

A Jane of many trades, Gia Mora (AEA) works as an actor and singer across the United States. Miz Mora headlines as a vocalist at venues including Blues Alley, Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, Rusty Scupper, Henley Park Hotel, 49 West, and Bethesda Theatre. She also performs as Gladys in "the world's best band," Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra. In 2008 she had the honor of singing at a command performance at the White House for the Bush family. She is a proud third generation jazz musician and began singing on her father's gigs at age three. She released her first CD, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, featuring Unified Jazz Ensemble, in December 2009.



Miz Mora recently received her third Helen Hayes nomination for the world premiere musical "Cool Papa's Party" at MetroStage. Other recent performances include "God's Ear" at Rep Stage, "The Imaginary Invalid" at Shakespeare Theatre Company, "Chasing George Washington" (world premiere musical) at Kennedy Center, and "Christmas Carol 1941" (world premiere musical) at Arena Stage.

Miz Mora graduated summa cum laude and with honors from the University of Colorado. She is based out of Washington, DC, with her partner, Brad, and their two cats, Spanky and Haas.

Instrument(s):

Voice.

Teachers and/or influences?

My dad gave me Sarah Vaughan's Sassy Sings And Swings when I was thirteen. I still have it on my iPod!

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I sang "Oh Lonesome Me" with my dad at the Lakewood Elk's Club. I then fell asleep on the bandstand and promptly fell off the stage. The die had been cast.

Your sound and approach to music:

I love jazz sensibilities applied to all kinds of music. As an actor, my first duty is to tell a story, and that holds true when I'm singing jazz, too.

Your teaching approach:

I hope to inspire my students to enjoy singing, even when they're working on something that's very challenging. I work with many actors preparing for auditions, and the pressure to do well is intense. If singers can stay relaxed and have fun, they'll always sound their best.

Your dream band:

Wow! What a great question! I would love a great rhythm section that can read each other's minds and collaborate with orchestral arrangers for bigger pieces. I dream that they would also love to listen to and be inspired by many different genres of music.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I nearly fell over when I spotted Carl Kassel in the front row of one of my shows. Some day I will win "WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL ME" and he will be on my voice mail. Oh, yes, he will.

Favorite venue:

There's nothing like singing in your hometown... I love Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret. Cool space, great acoustics and sound design, fabulous crowd!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

There's only one thus far, and I love it: Something Borrowed, Something Blue! Thanks to the amazing Unified Jazz Ensemble for their incredible work on this recording.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Herbie Hancock, Gershwin's World.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I think it would be a travesty to lose touch with music written before 1960. I love keeping alive the legacies of artists like Jerome Kern and Blossom Dearie.

Did you know...

that I am an ardent vegetarian and green girl? I live my politics, and if you're looking to be "converted" into a more eco-friendly life, drop me a line!

CDs you are listening to now:

Nellie McKay, Pretty Little Head;

Judy Garland, Live at Carnegie Hall,;

Ella Fitzgerald, 12 Nights in Hollywood;

Sonos, SonoSings;

Bing Crosby/Rosemary Clooney Show, Episodes 1960-1962.

Desert Island picks:

Sarah Vaughan, Sassy Sings and Swings (Verve);

The Beatles, The White Album (Apple);

Beck, Guero (Geffen Records);

Suzanne Vega, Nine Objects of Desire (Polygram).

What is in the near future?

New dates are always being announced on my website. Check often!

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Environmental activist lawyer.

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