Bianca Rossini is the new Brazilian sensation in the music scene of Los Angeles, California. Composing and singing her own songs the girl from Rio de Janeiro who was once an international model, acted in Hollywood films, hosted a TV talk show and already published two romance novels and two poetry books is now ready to release her first album bringing back the great taste of Bossa Nova.
A few days before Rossini departed for an event taking place in Brazil I had the opportunity to meet her for an interview. She told me about what kind of process she uses to create her music and of her career plans.
When did you become a singer/songwriter? Was it an easy process or did you have conflicts with the fact that you are a multi-talented person?
I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. Music/writing has always been a great passion for me, but so was dancing and acting. My entire life I’ve been looking for a partner to write with because I thought since I didn’t know how to play an instrument, I couldn’t do it alone, although I’ve been creating melodies from early on.
I would sing anywhere and everywhere I could, I would improvise one song after another and never write them down or record them. I would give concerts sometimes at parties improvising melodies and lyrics from beginning to end, and of course all those songs are gone, because they happened in the moment with no written or otherwise record of it.
Most people would be mesmerized; some thought that perhaps what I was singing had been written before by famous composers. Decades went by like that. But I never found “my musical partner.” One day I got a call from a songwriter, Glenn Scott Lacey. He was looking for the next Astrud Gilberto and thought I would be perfect.
Fast forward, we recorded 3 original songs. Flora Purim did the background vocals in one of my songs, but the producer who was supposed to take the demo to the labels had to take care of family issues and the project never took off. My friend critic Don Heckman who, since the release of my book A Brazilian Heart, kept encouraging me to start writing my own lyrics.
One day, a year ago, after he listened to a little song I made up on the phone during our conversation, he couldn’t believe I had just composed it on the spot and he said “Bianca you must do your own album. Your lyrics deserve the best composers, you have produced your own TV shows, written several books in two languages. There is no excuse for you not to make your album.”
Because of that phone conversation, his incentive, support and mentoring I changed the paradigm regarding my music. In the following two weeks I wrote over 10 songs with Sergio Santos and from then on I began to write with some of the best composers in Brazil and in LA. By the end of a month and a half I had 150 songs, and by now over 200 songs… I stopped counting.
When and why did you leave Brazil?
I left Brazil over twenty years ago. I wanted to develop all my talents in one single place and American schools/Universities seemed to offer a complete program. I attended the University of Maryland and Georgetown University for Dance and Theater.
When did you start singing and what does it mean to you?
I remember at age four holding a record by Dorival Caymmi and singing one of my favorite songs – “Marina.” Of course I had no idea what it meant but I loved singing it. My mother was my idol, she introduced me to all styles of music, from MPB to bolero, classical music, opera, French, Italian, Arab music and so on.
Although I love all other facets of my artistic careers, music is probably the one I could not leave without. I’ve been improvising lyrics and melody since I was a child, it’s part of my everyday life, natural, spontaneous and I cannot suppress it. The inspiration comes and I’m just an instrument to give voice to the words and melodies that keep pouring out of my heart.
What are the big influences to you in this area?
Some of my greatest inspirations in music have been Dorival Caymmi, Vinicius de Moraes, Toquinho, Pixinguinha, Noel Rosa, Tom Jobim, Maysa, Elza Soares, Elis Regina, Nara Leão, Amália Rodrigues, Chopin, Prokofiev, Strauss, more recently Yo Yo Ma, Gabriel Yared, Alexandre Desplat and many many others.
How does your creative process work? When you compose which comes first: music or lyrics?
Great question: sometimes music, sometimes lyrics, often both at the same time.
Every time I step on the beach I immediately start making up new melodies. It drives me crazy, I have to find a way to record it on my phone, if I don’t have my IPod, and it doesn’t stop, I keep on creating. Sometimes I’m driving, like yesterday, I came up with a tune, had to call a composer friend to write it down or record it for me while I sang the melody on the phone.
As a singer, what do you think is more important: technique or emotion?
Without a doubt, for me a perfect singer, with perfect pitch and phrasing without his or her soul shining through is worthless. I can’t listen to that, it’s empty, it inspires nothing. By contrast a voice that is vulnerable, that expresses the singer’s feelings, as imperfect as it may be technically, it’s delicious and takes you on a journey…
What will you call your new work/CD? What can you tell us about it?
One of my co-writers Dana Kaproff has come up with a sensual title, but it’s top secret. The album is original bossa nova songs that celebrate love, beauty, and romance. You can listen to some of the songs at www.myspace.com/biancarossini
How long did it take to record? Who participated?
I began working on the album this year. Meanwhile I have had the privilege and joy to co-write and collaborate with phenomenal American and Brazilian composers, including Peter Roberts, Dana Kaproff, Steve Rawlins, Ken Hirsch, Don Heckman, Patrick Lockwood, Michael Levine, Jon Gilutin, Sergio Santos and Claudio Nucci, I have had also the participation of Grecco Buratto, Larry Koonse, Cyro Batista, Cassio Duarte and Doug MacDonald.
How were the sessions? Tense? Pleasurable?
I’m smiling. Well there’s so much to deal with – joy, stress – that your body can break down from too much work and not enough sleep… and so on. In the beginning I would catch myself in the studio looking from above and feel such happiness that my album was being realized in the company of remarkable musicians. Sometimes I dance with my co-writers in the middle of a session, as way to test out the songs. There’s laughter, tears of joy, and an unbelievable camaraderie among great talents committed to create the best music.
You have a beautiful voice, well balanced, refined and emotional. Where did all this come from?
Thank you. The journey of discovering oneself is a very interesting one and it takes time. I’m certainly now more in tune with who I am as a singer. People say my singing is intimate; I don’t have any particular agenda except to stay close to my heart.
You are in several creative planets: music, literature, movies, dance and fashion. What is the real essence of Bianca Rossini?
I give a hundred percent and more in everything I do. But I would say singing encompasses it all – the writing, movement, performance, and most of all this deep connection that we all have with something greater than ourselves. Performing and sharing that energy with others is the ultimate gift, for a song only really becomes a song when it touches the heart of another.
When do you plan to release your CD? Is there a tour in your plans?
I would like to release it by the end of the year. This year I have been performing for charity functions and private parties, I’m looking forward to touring and performing on bigger stages, once the CD is ready.
In Beverly Hills, where you live, is there very much of a Brazilian musical community?
Los Angeles has a very exciting, very diverse Brazilian artistic community that includes talented musicians as well. Just recently I had the pleasure to have the fabulous Brazilian guitarist Grecco Buratto (who plays with K.D. Lang) record the guitar and cavaquinho for one of my songs.
How is to be a Brazilian in Hollywood?
I’m very proud of our culture, the diversity of our music, and the strength of our people. Although I have traveled and lived in different places around the world, the innocence in my music is Brazilian, the source of its purity comes from the light on our beaches, the countryside, the appreciation of nature, the beauty of simplicity, the joy and open heart of our people, our great composers, artists, landscapes…. No matter where I am Brazil is a part of my soul, like a waterfall of inspiration that only grows as time goes by.
Paul “Brazil” Constantinides is a photographer, poet, songwriter and Portuguese Teacher. He was born in San Diego, CA, and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. He has lived in South Florida for nine years. You can get in touch with him writing to email@example.com.