Jazz Singer Shana Dinha Talks Her “Sounds of Spring” Show, EP ‘The Seasons We Carry’, and Making a Positive Difference with West Coast Songwriters Executive Director. Ian Crombie in Berkeley, CA
It’s been said that West Coast Songwriters are a bunch of country singer songwriters or folk songwriters, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are SONGWRITERS regardless of genres. Our founders write for the Childrens market, and our compilation CD shows the breadth of styles our members write.
On that note I want to introduce you to WCS Member Shana Dinha, a promising up-and-coming Jazz singer songwriter. A winner of Jazz Search West, Outstanding Vocalist Award from Music in the Parks, and The Superior Command Solo Performance from California Music Education Association, she went on to sell out her “Rising Stars” performance at the legendary California Jazz Conservatory. On May 4th, at Piedmont Piano Company, she’ll perform a set of exceptional songs including “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” from her new EP ‘The Seasons We Carry’.
Ian Crombie: Shana, you’re really impressing people with your live performances. What can you tell us about you “Sounds of Spring” show at Piedmont Piano Company on Friday, May 4 in Oakland?
Shana Dinha: I’m releasing my EP ‘The Seasons We Carry’. It’s a compilation of covers and jazz standards. And I’ll be performing one of the songs from it, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”, and doing arrangements of other standards with some of the most sought after jazz musicians – guitarist Terrence Brewer, pianist Colin Hogan, bassist Aaron Germain, and drummer Rob Rhodes.
Ian Crombie: Tell us about what got you into music.
Shana Dinha: Music was just around me in the household because my father played guitar, he sang and was in some bands when he was younger. He was always playing a lot of [music] like Beatles covers, Abba, Tom Jones, and all those songs from the 80s.
IC: When did you first start singing?
SD: I started singing at the age of 5. That was mainly because I was in a household where there was music at a young age. Then my parents took me to go see Phantom of the Opera in London and I really enjoyed it. The whole way through the car ride home I was singing. I was at least trying to sing, that’s what my parents tell me. They said I was singing all the songs. But you know how parents are; they always exaggerate about their children’s talent. I just fell in love with music since then and I started singing in choirs.
IC: Did you sing through high school?
SD: I sang through high school, in choirs, and I competed and got awards.
IC: After falling in love with music, what was your plan for it once you got older?
SD: At the age of 23 I decided after getting my degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences I wanted to really pursue my music, and study music and become a musician. So I went to the Musicians Institute with a scholarship. But my family at the time didn’t want me to go, so I literally walked into a church because I had a come to Jesus moment. That was a pivotal moment because I met someone who introduced me to someone who basically opened up a lot of doors for me. Within a month of finding out I wasn’t able to go to that school in Hollywood I got a gig singing backup for Josh Grobin at the HP Pavilion in San Jose in front of 18,000 people! I just knew in that moment on that stage in front of all those people that was what I wanted to do. It was like, okay, I’m going to do whatever I can to get back here again.
IC: That was a big moment! Were there any others?
SD: A few years back I won Jazz Search West which was exciting because I got to sing at Yoshi’s! That was another pivotal moment in my life.
IC: Yoshi’s is such an iconic jazz club, a perfect venue for the direction you have gone. You have to possess a great ear to sing jazz because it continually changes. You have to hear those changes to be able to follow it with your voice.
SD: Mainly I perform standards. They’re not too hard, although you have to have a certain range to learning certain songs. If you were to sing “Sophisticated Lady”, for example, you have to learn how to hit certain pitches and move through the song effortlessly.
IC: When you’re singing standards do you try and follow the original version or do you make it your own?
SD: Definitely make it my own. I go off on a tangent. I think part of being a jazz singer is making it your own.
IC: That still has its challenges, right?
SD: Where it gets really hard is scatting over the changes. I can sing the blues just fine but when it comes to really hitting the changes, that’s something I’m still learning. I was going to California Jazz Conservatory. There you’re supposed to learn how to really let loose. Do it like the horn players like Dizzy, Miles, and John Coltrane did it. I’m still working on it. I’m not there yet. It can be crazy going to school so I took a moment just to pause and breathe. I’m taking a break but I’ll go back.
IC: You have a great tone to your voice. The one instrument that is really unique to every person is his or her voice. People can make a horn sound similar but your voice has its own sound.
SD: Thank you. It’s part of the human body and that experience. I feel like people can relate to it more versus an instrument.
IC: Let’s look to the future. What are your hopes and dreams for your music?
SD: Right now I’m focused on really becoming a well-known singer in the Bay area. I want to establish myself here. Just get more experience. Ideally, and I’ve been writing songs, I’d be publishing my own record of original songs and going on tour. Ultimately, I’d love to go on a world tour. The goal isn’t necessarily to win Grammys and all these accolades. That’s in the back of my mind. The main goal is to really just make a positive difference in the world. As cliché and cheesy as that sounds that’s the whole point of being a musician and a songwriter, especially, because then I get to express how I really feel about what’s really going on in my own world and then in the world around me. It’s a good time to write about what’s going on, too. I’d love to just be singing my own music but at the same time I will never leave jazz.
CREDITS Photos – Provided | Shana Dinha
West Coast Songwriters is committed to presenting engaging conversations with high level artists and songwriters. We hope you enjoyed this interview with Shana Dinha.
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