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MP3 Karena Mendoza & Bobby Schiff - Intimate Gershwin

Rich, luscious jazzy vocal and piano artistry of beloved Gershwin standards

12 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Smooth Jazz, EASY LISTENING: Crooners/Vocals

My first dalliance with George Gerswhin was at a recital where my piano teacher and mentor Hester Beukes accompanied me. We spontaneously performed Summertime as an encore. I remember the delightful way she looked at me when she said that I should sing more Gershwin. It was very inspiring to an impressionable young girl. Taking her words to heart, I began to explore his music and fell in love with his repertoire.

Since growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, music has been a part of my life. My father would wake us at sunrise on Sunday mornings, filling the house with his cheery song as he washed the dishes after a late Saturday night party. Any place I ventured in South Africa I heard people singing - on the street, working or playing - people sing.

But it is my Father’s Welsh heritage that informs my passionate love of words and music and perhaps explains why I feel so entirely at home singing Gershwin. The marriage of Ira’s rich lyrics and George’s beguiling melodies intrigues me and fulfills me both as pianist and composer.

I’ve wanted to work with Bobby Schiff ever since I met him almost a decade ago! His musicality and affinity with this music made him my first choice for this album. I love the way he illuminates the lyrics with his lush interpretations and soaring improvisations. This has been a beautiful and intimate collaboration.

We hope you enjoy!
Karena Mendoza was born in South Africa and is deeply affected by the vibrant musical atmosphere of her native country. She attended the School for the Performing Arts in Johannesburg where she studied piano under Hester Beukes and voice under Rosemary Burton. She furthered her operatic studies at the Witwatersrand University under Joyce Barker, premier South African dramatic Soprano. In Vienna she trained under Ks (court appointed) Hilda Zadek and renowned Romanian Tenor, Constantin Zaharia.

Karena is an award winning vocalist and composer. Since the 1970’s she has performed in Africa, Europe and the United States. She performed her songs Ethnic Cleansing and Strong Kind of Woman for 40 of the world’s top female political leaders at the Vital Voices Conference (Vienna, Austria).

In 2004 she won Best Song Writing at the New York International Fringe Festival for Africa Plumbridge (https://www.tradebit.com)
Her current projects include Burying the Bones, an musical drama based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa with Jeff award winner Margaret Lewis, a musical comedy How To Marry an Englishman, a choral work Requiem for a Refugee with Peter W. Jenkins and On-The-Loose Dreams (https://www.tradebit.com) co-written with Alex Jenny and Stephanie Snow.

In 2005 Karena became Artist in Residence at the Riverside Presbyterian Church. As the Musical Director for the Art Miles Mural project, she together with Joanne Tawfilis is developing a video concept to be used in schools as part of the UNESCO Decade of the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence Among Children of the World. (https://www.tradebit.com)

Bobby Schiff
Composer, Arranger, Conductor, Pianist, Producer
On the Chicago and Los Angeles music scenes for over 35 years, Bobby Schiff has led orchestras and bands, performed on piano and keyboards, directed, composed and arranged for and with the best. Mel Torme, Peggy Lee and Bobby Rydell, are just a few of the premiere entertainers and musicians he''s worked with in the U.S. and internationally. In 2001 he accompanied Ruth Pointer on Wayne Newton''s overseas Thanksgiving USO tour.

Bobby Schiff has been playing piano and keyboards professionally since he was in high school. His classical training in piano performance and composition began at age five. As a youngster, he worked several years at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, honing his skills in the music production and publishing business.
A true music professional, Bobby has served for many years as a National Trustee and National Vice-President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammy''s). He is currently serving as Vice President of the Association of Professional Orchestra Leaders. He also maintains his memberships in ASCAP and ASMA.
Bobby works primarily in Chicago as one of the nation''s premier vocal arrangers and accompanists. Playing, arranging and producing albums for numerous independent artists; he also performs with his own jazz trio at several Chicago venues. For the past three years Bobby has been Music Director for the Women of Southport Jazz Festival in Chicago.

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