That Which Speaks of Love
The love of the lyric is a passion that propels many great vocalists through their musical journeys, whether they are seasoned veterans with miles of road behind them or young contenders who are keeping their eyes on the prize. This fondness for words set to melody is, without doubt, the most prevalent force behind the quickly ascending career of Camilla Sanders. With her debut album set for release and a steady stream of performances with some of New York's top shelf Jazz practitioners, Camilla sits poised to take on the next phase of her lyrical life. Coming from an intensely musical family, it is no wonder that Camilla has been drawn to a life of performance after her Florida upbringing. "Everyone in my family sings or plays an instrument," she explains. "My Mom plays piano, my Dad and my sister play guitar and my brother plays trumpet. It was the perfect training ground for what I'm doing currently." Musical scholarships eventually took her to the University of North Florida (1992-1997) where she not only continued her training, but would also meet her most frequent collaborator and future husband, pianist Kevin Sanders. She further expanded her horizons by taking on music directing work for stage shows such as "Guys and Dolls" and "The Tempest" while continuing to work in an array of different circumstances. Camilla muses, "It didn't matter to me if I was performing on a big stage for a musical or playing for a little church or anything in between. It was all part of my education and I wouldn't change any of it." Camilla's vocal career would become the focus of her efforts after she gained the attention of Gainesville-based vocalist Brenda Bayne. It was through sitting in and occasionally substituting for Bayne that Camilla was able to finally stretch her wings in the real world. This initial success led her to start a nearly obsessive absorption of the music created by the great singers of Jazz. Even a beginning Jazz listener can hear in Camilla's singing the influence of such titans as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day and Blossom Dearie. Her persistent listening has also given her the knowledge necessary to resurrect some long forgotten gems. Richard Bourcier, reviewer for the prestigious JazzReview.com website, took note of this upon listening to Camilla's pre-release demo for her upcoming album. "The influence of Blossom Dearie is clearly evident in Ms. Sanders' vocal delivery," he states. "She kicks off with a tune I'd never heard. It's called 'I Wanna Turn Out My Light' and I found it quite captivating." In 1999, Camilla made the move to New York with her husband Kevin. Within weeks of arriving she was able to slate her first performance with world-renowned bassist Ben Wolfe. "There is nobody playing bass better than Ben," she asserts. "That was one of the most encouraging things to happen when we first got here." Since then, she has started singing her way through some of the most sought-after venues in New York such as The Metronome, Swing 46, The 55 Bar and Kave Haz in addition to landing her current weekly gig at Langan's New York in the middle of Times Square. Her continuous performance agenda has given her the opportunity to work along side some of the best that New York has to offer including saxophonists Gregory Tardy and Brad Leali as well as drummers Otis Brown and Alvin Atkinson. In addition to her already busy singing schedule, Camilla has begun her expansion into the world of Jazz education. Along with her husband, she is hard at work on a series of clinics and seminars aimed at young people to help enlighten them about the history and performance of Jazz. She asks,"If young people don't hear about this music and receive some sort of exposure to it, who's going to listen to it in the future? We have to cultivate the next generation of Jazz listeners." Camilla has made it one of her personal goals to bring Jazz music into the public school system and make sure that every student has a chance to hear the music that she loves. Camilla's debut album,"That Which Speaks of Love" is set for release in the fall of 2002. Her regular rhythm section of Kevin, Justin Varnes and Matthew Rybicki provide the support on this heart-warming first outing. "These arrangements are a few of the many that have evolved over the course of the past year," she states. "These are great examples of American Popular Song lyric writing and the group is very comfortable with them." Camilla's recording is already grabbing attention even before it is publicly distributed. Her rendition of "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" has already been selected to be featured in the motion picture "Shut Ins", produced by Joanna Clare Scott, as well as receiving advance praise from "The Evolution of Swing" host Jason Kolucki during Camilla's recent interview on WNTU 91.9 FM.