A Cuppa with Melanie Putria

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A month has passed since I interviewed Yacko for the segment “A Cuppa with…” and this month I had the opportunity to interview my favorit Puteri Indonesia (Indonesian beauty queen) who also happens to be a friend of mine, Melanie Putria!

Melanie’s and my paths crossed in 2011 through running. With other fellow runners, we went together for Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon. Although at the time she had just been running for less than 6 months, she went there to do her first marathon (in which she got a quite good timing for a first timer who didn’t really prepare for it!) while I was doing my first half marathon (I obviously didn’t perform as well as her, you can easily tell who the fast runner is and who the fun runner is😉 ).

She’s such a lovely person that everybody loves. I got the chance to work with her once as an MC/Race Announcer. Although she’s more experienced than me, I can tell you that she’s not cocky at all!

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Partnering for Lippo Mall Kemang 10K – Run for Childhood Cancer.

Spending that afternoon with her and listening to her stories at Starbucks, Kota Kasablanka, made me realize how this person could even be more inspiring.

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Also met Helen and Joe that afternoon!

Hi Uni (an endearing term for sister used by the ethnic group of Minangkabau in West Sumatra), thank you for taking your time to have a chat with me for my blog. You are well known as a Puteri Indonesia who has a successful career in the entertainment industry. What inspired you to embark on this career?

It all started from singing. Thinking that I had the talent, my mother got me enrolled in a singing course and had to drag me there because I didn’t think that I had any sense of music. But mother knows better, of course! Eventually I started to really like singing and entered quite a lot of singing contests and became the winner. I became the backing vocal for a couple of bands, performed more and started to make my own money.  Then one day at the campus, I saw an ad for Puteri Indonesia and got intrigued. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I give it a shot?” All those experiences from the singing contests and on the stage gave me enough confidence to present myself in front of a crowd. Even though I was clueless when it came to beauty and modeling, I filled out the form and sent it over. Turned out I got picked as a finalist to represent West Sumatra and won the title. This really opened the door for me as a presenter and MC. I learned how to be an MC by watching my mother who often brought me to work as an MC for Minangkabau weddings when I was little.

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Caught her in the act in Jakarta Marathon 2014.

You’re also known to promote healthy lifestyle, being an avid runner and all. Can you tell us a briefly how your story with sports and health begun?

I used to be this chubby girl who hated sport and often pretended to be sick so I could skip physical education classes. After winning the title of Puteri Indonesia, I still didn’t embrace the healthy lifestyle–I didn’t exercise, didn’t eat vegetables nor fruits. I thought that I had no problem with my body until YPI (Yayasan Puteri Indonesia – the organizer of the beauty pageant) sent me a warning letter saying that I had to lose a couple kilograms. I felt shocked because it was the first time for a Puteri Indonesia receiving such letter. I wasn’t that fat, but I obviously didn’t look toned either. So I decided to join the gym and try to live a healthy lifestyle. It was the turning point. But I was too excited with it that I took things a bit too far for five years. I adopted the lifestyle of a bodybuilder – did their weight training routines, followed their diet without proper knowledge. It was extreme that my health started to be affected.

What made you finally found balance in this quest for a healthy lifestyle?

My body was so lean that it no longer produced estrogen. Doctor told me that I was already in a pre menopause phase and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have children. I went to see a gynecologist who told me to gain 3 kilograms and voilà, I got my period back one week before I got married!

What about running? How did you find your love for it?

After I gave birth to Sheemar, I wanted to shed those extra pounds. Going back to the gym was hard because I felt intimidated by other members who looked good and it didn’t help to hear my personal trainer said I looked like a double door fridge. I felt like I had to find other way and saw the running-related posts on social media by my friends Maylaffayza and Yasha. Then I found my passion and have done 5 marathon ever since.

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Our Singapore Marathon trip in 2011.

You just had your last marathon in Tokyo and you worked with Pocari Sweat for the preparation. How was it?

I underwent training for 2 months for Tokyo Marathon 2016. It was hard because I had only been running for a couple of years and had to follow a comprehensive training plan. Although the plan was made for athletes, I was still living my life like normal that I failed to follow the recovery program properly and got typhoid fever. I recovered one week before the marathon and the people from Pocari Sweat told me it’s ok for me not to go but I realized that I had this huge responsibility to finish what we’d started. When I managed to get to the finish line and broke my PB (personal best time), I felt really grateful. It made me realize even more that we could get what we wanted and there’s nothing impossible if we’re really determined and if we really honored the commitment we’d made to ourselves and other people.

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We could say that you’re a hard worker and a go-getter. What drives you to be that person?

I always tell myself to give 100% to everything that I do and to finish what I started. People who don’t know me that well would think that I shouldn’t be overly serious in what I do. I think part of it is because I’m an Aries–we’re known to be uncompromising when it comes to what we want. Besides of that, I had a bad experience at school when I was little. I was this chubby and lousy girl who often got picked on by other students. I want to show that I’m no longer that person. We can say that it’s how I avenge myself in a good way. Also, Sheemar is one of the reasons why I work hard. I want to be a good example for him and make him proud.

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Aww!!!

It’s a bit of surprise to know that a lovely person like you could be a victim of bullying at school. Would you mind sharing a little bit of the story with us?

In elementary school, almost all the girls in the class hate me. They accused me of snitching something to the teacher so the whole class got punished. One time the boys put glue on my chair so my skirt got sticky and dirty. Sometimes they liked to drop my things in front of my eyes and then gave me these mocking facial expressions. They also liked to make fun of me really bad because I was fat and it made me cry. But now things have changed and I’m obviously no longer that fat girl.

Hope you’re not bored having to answer this question but I’m really curious. How do you balance your family and career?

I must be honest, it’s not easy. It’s such a luxury for me if I could sleep 4 hours in a day. This is such a big challenge for me as I’m still figuring out how I can manage to take care of my family, have my own me time, but also thrives in my career at the same time. But thankfully I have a husband who understands me and is willing to remind me if I start to be overly focused on one aspect in my life and abandon the others.

How do you manage to stay fit to do all the things that you do? Where do all those energies come from? And also, how do you manage your mood? The entertainment business is quite a b*tch and it’s easy for the artist’s mood to be affected.

I’m actually a very moody person and I used to have a hard time in managing it. In the past, you could easily tell if I was sad or angry just by looking at my face. And it’s a big no-no in the entertainment industry, as you must not allow the camera or the crowd to capture that. Then I found my outlet in sports. I have to exercise to get the energy that I need to do my activities as well as to control my mood. If I don’t exercise for three days, I can turn to be this very cranky person. Yes, I’m a self-confessed endorphin addict.

So that’s why you always seem to be this pleasant and cheerful person?

Yes, exercising really helps me with that. But, here’s the thing. Back when I just found the key to control my mood, I felt that I was obliged to be this delightful person in front of everyone, that I had to please them. But we live in a world where people have their own agenda and sometimes your happiness is not in it. I used to try to understand these people and let things go their way. But it was tiring. Two years ago I realized that I actually had to be happy first so I could sincerely make other people happy. So I started to muster up the courage to say “no” or show how I’m unhappy with someone if that how I truly feel.

As a beauty queen, what is your definition of beauty? But please don’t say beauty, brain and behavior. Let us know what Melanie Putria really thinks😀

Beauty is when you feel comfortable. If you think you look pretty but you’re actually hurting, you feel awkward with the clothes and makeup that you wear, then you’re definitely not being beautiful. You exuberate beauty when you can be yourself and proud of it.

Now I get why the judges chose you to be Puteri Indonesia. *chuckles

Awh, you!

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Crowned in 2002 (picture taken from Tempo website).

Okay, this is my attempt to relate this interview with the title of the blog segment, “A Cuppa with…”  What are you having and how would you rate it out of 10?

Non-fat Green Tea Frappuccino with less ice, one shot of espresso di affogato and no whipped cream. I like it so much that I’d give it a 9.

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Back to you. Do you have any tips for people who want to be a successful presenter and host like yourself?

You can’t be a good TV personality and host if you don’t know what your strength and skill is. For me personally, I love to be connected to the people I’m talking to. So I try to have eye contact with them and it actually helps me to talk better, converse better with them. Also you have to know what makes you unique. What sort of image that you want the audience to relate you to? Are you a sexy MC? A funny one? Or a sporty one? And one more thing, always keep a good relationship with everyone in the industry. I’ve met quite a number of new presenters who stick their nose up in the air. Even though you’re very skillful and talented, you obviously can’t thrive in the industry with that unpleasant manner.

You have so many things going on in your life, so many achievements. Is there any particular project that you would like to realize in the near future?

I have one thing that still hasn’t come true yet. I want to release an album. I’ve discussed this with my husband Angga, but he said that I didn’t really have to have an album to be a singer. Well, I still feel the need to have a work of art that can be appreciated by others. Before we got married in 2010, Angga made a promise that he would help me make an album yet it still hasn’t come true! Hopefully soon.

As a singer, what three tracks that you love to sing?

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You

Melissa Manchester – Looking Through the Eyes of Love

Rita Effendy – Sebatas Mimpi

I know this is a typical job interview question, but how do you envision yourself in 10 years?

I will be a hot momma, hahaha! Well, I truly love sports and healthy lifestyle and I want to get as much knowledge as I can from this field. So I really want to be a good personal trainer who has certifications in nutrition and hopefully by being one I can eventually inspire and help many people.

 

Summertime and the Living is Easy…

Last night I was having my regular gig at the Back Room and thought of playing around with my TC Helicon Voicelive Touch 2 to make my own rendition of the jazz standard “Summertime”.

My good friend Natalie Dju helped me recorded the performance.

I love love loooove playing with this vocal effect. This is actually the second one that I bought. I also bought the previous model before in 2012, but I sold it after I got this one in 2013 (really regret it because I think both of them are really cool!). I’ve used it during my show with Sister Duke, Nengah & Nanda, etc. Here’s a video of me using the previous model of the vocal effect during my gig with Nanda.

Here’s another video of us performing an original composition in my humble home studio.

I might probably make a more elaborate post on this gear in the future – a bit of tutorial, etc. So those who are interested…stay tuned!:)

A Cuppa with Yacko (and Alana)

Hello! Like I mentioned in my previous post, starting this month I have a new segment in my blog called “A Cuppa with…” in which I interview people whom I find inspiring. And for the premiere edition of it, I’m so excited to feature my good friend Yacko! Many knows her as the leading female rapper in Indonesia, but she also works as a lecturer/head of program in one of educational institutes in Jakarta. Besides that, she is also a mother to a very cute daughter.  I personally think she’s the perfect role model for young girls; she’s very smart, passionate about life, independent and a go-getter. Since April is the month in which we’re celebrating women’s empowerment in Indonesia, I reckon that she’s the perfect person for this month’s “A Cuppa with…”

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She and I have gone way back to more than a decade ago when we both were still university students in Sydney. We both have big passion for music and have shared many unforgettable memories on stage.

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The collaboration didn’t stop on stage. In 2008, I was featured on her deep and meaningful track called “Jalan Keluar” from her 2nd album.

Last Monday I came to her house to have a cuppa with her and Alana. We haven’t met for quite a while so this interview was actually an good opportunity for us to catch up!

I’m sure you’ll be inspired by her too by the time you’ve finished reading😉

Can you tell us a brief story about your musical journey that brings you to where you are now, as the leading female rapper in Indonesia? 
I am always passionate about music since I was a kid. But the turning point was in 1992, when I listened to rap music on the radio. I was curious about the lyrics and the energy from the beat. Then, I began to search for more rap music, learn how to rap, spit some rhymes, write my own lyrics and join many rap gigs. That’s when I decided that I wanted to become a rapper. The stepping stone was when I joined Pesta Rap 2 in 1996, I started to know more people. 2001 was the year when I was featured on Iwa K’s single “Apa Seeh”. My first album, Refleksi was released in 2005, then followed by Mendua in 2008. The Experiment, my third album was released in 2013 and chosen to be one of the best albums in 2013 by Rolling Stone Indonesia. I also joined #HIPHOPISHIPHOP, a charity project initiated by San-E, a Korean rapper that gathers rappers from all over the world including my inspiration, KRS-One, in 2015. Then, finally this year I released THANG.
What made you decide to be a lecturer? Do you find excitement in sharing your knowledge with others or…?
Other than rapping, I’ve always loved to share. By teaching, I get to share my experiences and listen to my students’ experiences. By listening to their experiences, I get to learn new things. Their characteristics, things they like, things they do, the trend nowadays. Knowing these information is like getting fresh materials for my musical journey too. So if people think that these are two different things, yes they might be different, but in my case, they’re related and supporting each other.
Can you tell us how a typical day of Yacko usually goes?
I get up at 6 and quickly prepare my kid for school. I ride a bike to work. I drop my kid to her school and then continue riding to my office. That way I could be faster and not stuck in Jakarta’s nasty traffic. My office hour is from 8 – 5. Normally I teach 1 class in a day, counsel students or just simply manage things around. Then I go back home. Play with my kid, help her with her study until she goes to sleep, then I start to work again. By working here, sometimes If I have recording schedule, I have to push it to the hour when Alana is already sleeping. Or it can also be a midnight gig. Put on my make up, gigging, and go back home afterwards. The cycle continues.
Wow. That sounds exhausting. So we can safely conclude that you’re the type of person that will be bored to death if have to spend one whole day being a couch potato? 
Not really, I love being a couch potato. I rarely have time for that. And when I do have a chance, I embrace it LOL.
I’ve known you for quite a while now and you’ve always seemed full of energy that I wonder how you could manage to stay focused and energized throughout your super packed day. What’s your secret? How do you stay fit to do all your activities?
I am a Libra. Everything around me has to be balanced. Mentally and physically. And the secret is my family. Their happiness is the source of my strength. Another thing is I always have to work out e.g. riding a bike or jogging. In other words, for me to stay fit is by working out and by being happy.
What does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood means being blessed by all the experiences and moments I enjoy with my daughter, Alana.
I’ve seen you posted videos and photos with your cute daughter on social media. I love seeing how you two seem to be really close, just like friends (dancing to Justin Bieber’s songs, etc). How do you manage to divide your time between your daughter, 9-5 work and musical work? What do you do to stay close to her?
I always tell her this before I have to go gigging at night, “I might not always be beside you when you’re sleeping, but I am always here before you go to sleep and when you’re awake.”  And no matter how late I went to home after a gig, in the morning if she has to go to her science club, I always accompany her.
Also, we talk on the phone when she’s already home from school. I always try to push any schedule away if she has a test and accompany her to study. Any other activities have to be pushed back to another schedule until her needs are met.
Having to juggle so many roles in your life, do you still have me time? What do you usually do?
My me time is sleeping LOL! And riding a bike as well as jogging. These activities keep me sane. Also sometimes when Alana is attending her science club, I use the time to get a massage. But I also love doing it together with Alana since she loves getting a massage too.
From numerous achievements you’ve had, what do you consider as the biggest achievement so far in your career?
At the moment maybe to be able to join the #HIPHOPISHIPHOP project since it’s a worldwide project. But I think as long as I haven’t given back that much to the community, I consider that I still have more to achieve.
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One of the many awards she received. This one is for her track “Ink & Paint”

We’ve witnessed you wearing so many hats: mother, female MC, lecturer, ex-radio announcer, entrepreneur. What’s next in store for Yacko?
I want to give back to the community more. By maybe starting a voluntary program to teach unfortunate children to rap or any activities that help them to aim high and that they can be whatever they want in the future.
Name three tracks that you listen the most recently.
M83 – Go!
Tupac – Changes
Porter Robinson – Fellow Feeling
Since the title of this segment is “A Cuppa with…”, I will ask everyone featured on it to review the drink that they have during the interview. Now, let’s pretend we’re tea experts😀 What do you think about the tea? How would you rate it out of 10?

I must say it’s an 8. Dont put too much sugar in it though, because the original taste is already good. I love the packaging and the tea bag. The tea bag is unlike the usual one with bleached paper. So I guess it’s more healthy.

 

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The tea that we had that evening.

And last but not least. We both know that there’s no business like show business but unfortunately it can be a tough, rough and mean one too. Any tips for any young female artist wishing to make it in the music industry?

First, you gotta decide what your objective is. Play along with the industry or just create your own shape and be yourself. Because honestly the industry can be so harsh and sometimes you have to follow what they want you to be. But the most important thing is for you to be honest to yourself. Be consiflex! Consistent to your objective, but flexible in the way to reach your objective. Also do not skip the process. in order to be where you wanna be, you have to go through each of the process and enjoy every challenge that occur. Don’t mind the haters, just do your thang!

 

Fun Wednesday

I have always wondered what it felt like being a very busy artist, with days filled with one gig and another. And not to forget rehearsals, dress fittings, interviews, photo shoots, meetings, etc. It must be tiring but fun at the same time! Nothing beats the feeling of doing something you’re really passionate about❤

And last Wednesday (6 April), I had the chance to actually experience a similar thing. Not saying that I was Beyoncé busy, though! Hahaha (although that would be nice)! On that day, I had three gigs in different venues. Thankfully (don’t we Indonesians love to do this – looking at the bright side of everything? :D) each of them was located not far from each other. And I was a bit worried since I just recovered from a very bad flu that I still had a tad bit of a problem with my voice. But the show(s) must go on, no?

So I started the day at around 6.00 am. Not being a morning person (plus I got home around 1 am the night before after the regular gig with Achmad Ananda & friends at Prohibitions, Senayan Arcadia) I struggled a bit to get out of the bed. After breakfast, shower and putting my make up on, I went to Griya Arimbi, an affordable yet very good salon near my house which I have been a regular customer since high school. I decided to pull off the braided updo look since I’d be out until past midnight and I needed a hairdo that would last really long. That morning I had my hair done Mbak Yully and as usual she did a very good job! Such a happy consumer I was *dancing

Then off I went to the first venue: Puri Agung, Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel Jakarta to perform with Nengah & Nanda. In anticipation of traffic jam, I went there a couple of hours earlier. But turned out the traffic was ok and I got there rather early! On top of that, the event was a bit delayed so I had to wait for quite a while at the backstage. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to wait alone.

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Food + music + good friends at the backstage.

Finally, showtime! Even though we experienced a couple of technical problems, Nanda & I still managed to have fun. We even performed our rendition of Protonema’s “Rinduku Adinda”.

Gig number one done and I hurriedly went to gig number two. The traffic wasn’t being as nice as before. It took me around hour from Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel to Ritz Carlton Kuningan! Traffic in Jakarta can be so crazy, riiight? But I luckily wasn’t late😀 I got there in time to change into another dress (unleashing the inner diva in me LOL) and discussed the songs we’re gonna perform with the guys. Again, another fun time on stage! Thank you Avia Reps & Chic Outlet Shopping for having us!

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Phew! Two gigs down and one more to go. The next gig is actually a performance that my friends and I have every week at this uber cool bar called The Back Room in Pullman Hotels, Thamrin. We perform every Wednesday night from 9.30 pm to 12 am and it was our first gig ever there.

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Dinner before the show!

I’m so blessed of having the privilege to perform with very talented musicians. Although at some points I was singing with my eyes literally shut (was really tempted to sleep!), the crowd in The Back Room nevertheless seemed to be enjoying our performance that we actually finished 15 minutes later than scheduled. It was such a relief for me everything went well as I was really worried that I would lose my voice or whatsoever (why flu takes ages to go away nowadays?).

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Can a girl sing while sleeping at the same time, please?

The first word that came to my mind after the day ended? Exhausted, definitely! It amazes me that there are some people capable of doing this daily (having a very full day), including one of my dear friends (name not disclosed yet) who also has a 9-5 job aside of being a busy performing artist and a mother! I don’t know how she manages to do it but am curious to find out. Luckily, she has agreed to be interviewed by yours truly and I will feature her on a new segment in my blog called “A Cuppa with…” Yay! In this new segment in my blog, I will interview people whom I find inspiring.

What about you? Are you that type of person who usually have their day full from early in the morning until midnight? If you are, I would love to know any tips and tricks to stay fit and cope with your hectic schedule. Maybe you can share them on the comment below:) ?

From Jazz to EDM: Global Timeline of Electronic Dance Music in the USA

I’m so excited to take part in this edutainment event held by Hexa Culture in which I will perform with Nengah & Nanda and collaborate with Iqbal (MSSVKNTRL) for the workshop.

Hope to see you all there!

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Broaden your knowledge of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in a fun way! Don’t miss out this edutainment event by Hexa Culture and @america where you can explore Electronic Dance Music (EDM) roots through decades of history compiled in continuous DJ and live electronic music performances complete with educative visual backdrop. Catch tracks ranging from jazz to the latest style. See how EDM developed into one of the most popular genre today.

Curious about “How to Sound Like and Perform Contemporary EDM” There also will be a short workshop on it in this event!

Watch the video below to learn more.

It’s a FREE event and you don’t need to register yourself.

 

Highlight of the Day on Digital Platforms

It’s almost been 8 years since the release of Sister Duke‘s debut album and it’s now available on digital platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Deezer, Spotify and Apple Music!

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If you haven’t got the album yet, here’s your chance to get it. Thank you for your support!

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Another South Africa – Indonesia Collaboration

At the beginning of this year I was contacted by a young producer from South Africa, Blaque Essence who expressed his interest in collaborating with me. He sent me the instrumental of the track and I fell in love with it immediately! It sounded so sweet which I really like. So yes, I told him that I would love to collaborate with him and started working on the lyrics and melody as well as recorded my vocals. So far, it’s one of my personal favorite out of all the collaborations I have done.

And months later, look what showed up on my Facebook timeline!

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Since it’s my personal favorite, I’m so excited to share it with you. Will definitely give you update when it’s out so stay tuned, peeps!:)

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Country Walks in Spring Time…

One of my favorite jazz tunes is “That’s All”, a song composed by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes and first sung by the great Nat King Cole. It’s so sweet and romantic that I sang it so many times that I lost count!

So when Aimee from The Lady Who Sings asked me to sing a jazz tune, I immediately picked this song. You can listen to it from the recording below.

Now, who would take a country walk in spring time with me while listening to this tune?:)

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Swingin’ with Aimee!

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Catch me swingin’ with the lovely Aimee Saras on Hard Rock FM tonight!

For streaming, click here.

See you on air!

Jazz Jazzes Up My Life

I started listening to jazz in university. As a singer, it’s only natural that I’m mostly drawn to jazz singers. My first favorite female jazz singer’s Dinah Washington. I remember I bought her CD in campus, I think there was some kind of a market or bazaar at the time. I love her “Teach Me Tonight”!

Then I stumbled upon the fabulous and scattilicious Ms Ella Fitzgerald! Her musicality is over the top, and like most people, I really admire her scat-singing.

When I’m in love or broken hearted, I seek comfort from Billie Holiday. Listening to her is some kind of emotional therapy for me. She’s just so full of soul, I really could feel every word she sang. Like this next song, it’s just so sad that I got teary eyes.

I always find thick voice fascinating, such as Sarah Vaughan’s. And it also has a hint of opera singer’s voice – so divine.

And who doesn’t know Nina Simone? This singer-pianist recorded “Feeling Good”, a track from the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd” for her album “I Put a Spell on You” that was released in 1965. This song was a hit, became a standard and got covered by many artists such as jazz crooner Michael Buble, the rock band Muse, and…me! Two years ago I was playing around with this app called VoiceJam on my iPod and was inspired to make a very simple rendition of the tune using only my voice.

For modern female jazz singers, I’m in love with Gretchen Parlato. How could somebody turn the 90s R&B group SWV’s track “Weak” into this super crazy rendition? (big props to Robert Glapser too!)

Many associate me with jazz, because I performed in jazz festivals. It’s true that jazz plays a big role in my musical evolution, but I can’t say that I’m a jazz artist because I’m still learning to be one. And I think I will keep on learning because it has so much to offer and every time I learn something new out of it, it makes me feel more and more alive! Thank God for music and thank God for Jazz! Happy International Jazz Day, peeps:)

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