Dubbed the mob-hits compilation for hipsters, Vanessa Racci reinvents classic Italian American songs with sexy, jazz arrangements, appealing to Baby Boomers and Millennials alike. Her show includes the songs from her album, a tribute to her grandfather, and is a celebration of Italian American culture including relatable stories, re-enactments and songs from Dean Martin, Louie Prima, Connie Francis, Al Martino, and the like. Song styles range from jump swing to Louisiana street. It's perfect for Italian American festivals or jazz clubs.
Vanessa also has a robust repertoire of jazz standards and can be booked for American song book gigs with her trio.
Price Range: $1,000 and up
VANESSA RACCI: BIOGRAPHY
Vanessa Racci’s 2017 debut CD, Italiana Fresca, heralded the breakthrough of a fresh sound in jazz: a sweet-and-sour, wide-ranging alto with a passion and sex appeal born of her Italian-American heritage. On the album, she puts a jazzy spin on the Italian songs she heard as a child; many are updated with her own English lyrics. The album’s producer, the renowned bassist David Finck, has raved about her “natural sense of rhythm and flow, and her wonderful ability to communicate both musical and poetic language.”
Vanessa was born of a working-class Italian family in Thornwood, New York. She began singing when she was four. “Music was very much alive in my family,” she says. “ The patriarch was her grandfather, Frank Prisciantelli, who lived in the basement apartment. Vanessa’s early musical schooling came largely from his record collection. He took great pride in his Italian-American heritage, and filled the house with its most beloved voices, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Vanessa’s favorite, Connie Francis. Vanessa and her grandfather spent countless happy hours singing those tunes together; even then, her vocal promise was clear.
At age 12 she started showing interest in theater, performing in summer stock shows and even Westchester’s Broadway Dinner Theater. By 18, she won a prestigious Helen Hayes Award for her role as Christine in Phantom of the Opera. But when it came time for college, her family urged her to pursue something seemingly more stable, and she went to school for business. But her musical dreams kept tugging at her. “I said to myself, I have to pursue this, because if I don’t I’m gonna regret it for the rest of my life. That’s when I discovered jazz. Those were the songs I found most authentic to my voice.”
She began building a pop-jazz repertoire and presenting it in solo shows throughout Manhattan and Westchester. In 2012 she began a collaboration with Glafkos Kontemeniotis, a respected jazz pianist, bandleader, and accompanist. Glafkos, she says, was “a golden find. He was patient, and had the training and reputation to take my music to the next level.”
In 2012, Vanessa became a finalist in the MetroStar Talent Challenge, an annual competition held at the Metropolitan Room, one of New York’s foremost cabarets. A reviewer for Cabaret Exchange wrote that Vanessa “got the most vociferous applause for the evening” following her performance of “Cry Me a River.” The following year she brought her own show to the Metropolitan Room. Cabaret critic New York Cabaret Today called her “a star on the rise,” adding: “This twenty-something is what cabaret is all about—fine, sexy, informed vocals, a winning personality, and a beautiful appearance. Vanessa can sing a modern ballad, a showtune, a blues tune, and do any jazz arrangement with ease and class.”
Eager to keep learning, she took a master class with the star jazz singer Jane Monheit at Birdland in New York. Owner Gianni Valenti was impressed with what he heard, and encouraged her to make an album.
A theme occurred to her in 2016, immediately after her grandfather’s death. Vanessa decided to honor him by revisiting the Italian songs he loved, while giving them a jazz spin. In Italiana Fresca, Vanessa is surrounded by a bevy of top jazz players; the piano playing and arrangements are supplied by Kontemeniotis and Yaron Gershovsky, longtime musical director for the Manhattan Transfer.
Now living in Tarrytown, New York, Vanessa maintains a growing performance schedule.
For more information on Vanessa Racci, visit www.vanessaracci.com