Barbara Santora - 10 Questions Music Interview
Barbara Santora began with a stage career at the young age of 5 with Little Theatre Productions. By age 17, she was a touring puppeteer with a demanding performance schedule sometimes required appearances in three states a day. At 19, Barbara enrolled at Indiana University to formally study music, theater, and dance where she explored her love of jazz and blues. When an offer came in to perform in Las Vegas, she relocated to Nevada and, over the next 14 years, captivated audiences with inspired interpretations of jazz standards, show tunes, and popular songs across genres. Barbara became known not only for her pure voice and exceptional, five-octave range, but for her ability to connect with audiences emotionally and draw them into the music. A reputation for professionalism found her sharing the spotlight with such talents as Frank Sinatra Jr. and Billy Preston. Eventually, the USO came calling and Barbara traveld the globe for three years as a featured entertainer, lifting the spirits of our men and women in uniform. Back at home, Barbara formed "Jazzin," her own ensemble anchored by pianist Ed Dansereau, formerly with the Young Rascals. Ed's untimely death in 2015 was followed by a personal mishap that crushed Barbara's ankle and forced a hiatus in her performance schedule. Now, following successful physical therapy, Barbara is again stepping onto the stage to the delight of audiences.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I really don’t think of myself as a songwriter although I am currently co-writing a song with fabulous songwriter-musician, John Michael O’Leary. I’m very blessed to have had songwriters want to write songs for me. I also very much enjoy doing some of the timeless classics that were written by some of the best songwriters of our time. I take great pride in taking beautiful lyrics and melodies and adding my touches to make them my own!
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Craziest thing! WOW! I could write a book!Lol! I think I’ll tell you about an incident that happened on a USO tour. We were doing a show on the DMZ in Korea. There was a time in my life I did many genres of music. This particular show I was doing “Wiggle It” by Two in a Room. My pianist had a unique talent of playing a handheld keyboard with his tongue. We were getting ready to do our little dance segment in the song when he dropped to the floor and began his unusual version of breakdancing! Little did he know as he spun around the stage to each section of the audience that when he dropped to the floor he had split his pants! Each section of the audience reacted with hysterical laughter and shouting as he spun wildly around! We on the stage were laughing so hard we were crying. The dance segment finished and he stood up chest extended with pride at how he had done such a great job! That’s when I told him to check his pants! Later our distinguished military audience who had seen much more than expected, passed a hat to get him a new pair of pants! I still laugh just thinking about it!
What has been the high point of your music path?
From childhood I always knew I would someday do USO tours. When the time came it was a dream come true. It’s hard to imagine anything giving me more happiness than performing for our men and women overseas! We went there to give but it was we who were the true recipients. I like to think that as my musical journey continues there will be so many more high points to encounter!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
So since songwriting isn’t really what I do I’ll approach this differently. I love taking cover tunes and putting my own style into them. I learn the melody line and lyrics thoroughly before adding my own coloring and attitude.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Challenge! Every day in the music business is a challenge. Driving long distances from gig to gig, dealing with all kinds of weather, vehicle problems, equipment issues, setups, keeping my voice(my instrument) in shape, learning new songs, I could go on and on. But worth it? Absolutely!
If there was one thing I could change in this industry it would be the “too much focus on image “ There are many fantastic artists out there but sometimes I feel the concentration is so much on image and shock value that the true artist gets sometimes buried. That’s why I love to hear a current hip hop or other genre related musician come out and do a serious, listen to the music, song. It’s usually just amazing when it’s done. Unfortunately there are so many great talented artists out there who have more than paid their dues with 6 days a week gigs, 4-5 hours a night then packing up and getting to the next one to perform the same or next day! So sad that so many are never heard or heard of.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
So many of the artists I would have loved to perform with have passed away. Because I so enjoy performing for all ages of people I would really love to share a venue with Michael Buble’. He too encompasses a wide range of ages in his appeal. He definitely is a great talent and I have a lot of respect for him and his music!
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsals are weekly with a piano or band. They are daily just me practicing. My voice is my instrument and it needs constant attention and tuning. And one thing! I don’t practice or rehearse with a microphone! A microphone is an extension of my instrument and practicing without it strengthens my voice immensely. I love rehearsing, learning new songs, practicing new phrases and runs and even seeing how quickly I can memorize a new song! I practice a lot of deep breathing especially before a show usually in a jack knife position. I run scales and riffs and sing long sustained notes with no vibrato. Then a half hour before a show I prefer to be in complete silence!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
The song I’m co- writing now is the hardest song I’ve ever helped in writing as well as that I’m singing. My 5 octave range is definitely being utilized in this haunting beautiful melody that surprises you with its eerie note structure. It’s also a reflection of my own life so it has to tell a story in its 3-4 minutes that a person can relate to and hopefully be moved by. This song is so amazing I find myself waking up in the middle of the night singing and going through each scene it puts in front of me. I plan on a September release.
What's coming up in the future?
I suppose I would have answered this question quite differently the first of the year! Having to cancel so many shows my time is consumed with learning new material, recording and doing fabulous interviews! I miss all my friends and fans and live performances so much. I update events frequently and sometimes just send little be safe comments to everyone! It’s a very hard year but I remain optimistic that this too shall pass! I’ll take each day as it comes, do my best to make someone smile and remember from an old movie these words:”After all Tomorrow is Another Day!”
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Stream on Spotify
For more information on Barbara Santora, please visit her website.