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Take Five With Sofija Knezevic

Take Five With Sofija Knezevic
Sofija Knezevic By

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Meet Sofija Knezevic:

"Recognized as one of jazz's preeminent vocalists, young Sofija Knezevic (only 22) is one of the most significant singers in jazz today. While her singing is steeped in tradition, her improvisational virtuosity and creativity are breathtaking."—CNN

Instrument(s):

Voice, piano.

Teachers and/or influences?

Greatly influenced by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae, Ernestine Anderson, Kim Burrell, Donny Hathaway, Elliot Mason, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and others.

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

I knew I wanted to be a musician the same moment I heard my first Ella record. I was three.

Your sound and approach to music:

I change with the energy, so my approach varies from modern and contemporary to a really retro sound. I love the blues, my parents listened to the blues a lot, so everything that is in a way a little dirty and thick and very melodic is attractive to me. If I was to compare where I am going right now, what direction, it would be, it would be the virtuosity of Art Tatum, beautiful weirdness of Thelonious Monk's melodies and Horace Silver's groove.

Your teaching approach:

It depends on each individual I`m teaching, but I base my vocal exercises and technical approaches on the book that I am writing about vocal technique right now. My goal is to help my students realize who they are and still use the influences of the people they wanted to sound like. And definitely help them find out how beautiful things are when you start discovering the possibilities and secrets of your own instrument.

Your dream band:

I would definitely love to perform with Herbie Hancock, Eric Revis, Diego El Cigala, Vicente Amigo, Zakir Hussain, The Walls Group, and many more...

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I was performing in Poland, a couple of years ago and when the host said my name I started getting out on the stage and while I was walking the dress that I wore which was really long, got caught up in my heels, and I almost fell down and got completely naked from the waist below at the same time in front of 500 people. For some strange reason I had safety pins in my mic case so I quickly fixed it. But that`s one of the funniest things that ever happened to me.

Favorite venue:

Favorite venue, that`s a hard one... cause we usually remember the bad ones more often. Hmm, I would say St. Poelten in Austria at the jazz festival I played 2008. I think. The organization, the sound, changing rooms, everything was on point.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My favorite recording is definitely "Don`t Explain," from my movie. Another one would definitely be the duet I did with Dena DeRose} of "When the World was Young."

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

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

Love and creativity.

CDs you are listening to now:

Wynton Marsalis, The Midnight Blues Standard Time Vol. 5 (Columbia);

Chick Corea, Light As A Feather (Polydor, 1973)

Desert Island picks:

Herbie Hancock, Feets Don`t Fail Me Now (Columbia);

Zakir Hussain, Making Music (ECM);
Vicente Amigo, Ciudad De Las Ideas (Ariola);

Carmen McRae, Carmen Sings Monk (Sony);

Buddy Guy, Buddy's Baddest: The Best Of Buddy Guy (Silvertone).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I get this question a lot, and I do and I always will say, it`s becoming more and more popular.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Good listeners, good musicians, good vibe.Society that cares.

What is in the near future?

I am writing two books at the moment, one about vocal technique, and a Serbian Jazz Real Book.

I am planning to start recording my new album.

Also, waiting for the movie I did the music for (and I was in) to come out in April 2012, Love Comes After. The audio track of my new single will also be played next week at the I Got Talent show, by young competing talent. Waiting to start the second part of the movie, Creating, and to finish the movie about my life, Sofijazz.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

To not lose the original emotional state.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"Svilen Konac," probably; it`s been in the family already.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

"God Bless The Child."

By Day:

Teaching, writing music, recording, writing poetry, designing, photography.

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

A couture designer.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Sofija Knezevic

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