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Rita di Ghent, Composer, Vocalist, Bass Player: News

Rita's Book on Vocal Technique - June 6, 2017

Vocal Technique For Non-Classical Singers is now available on amazon!

Autobiography - March 22, 2015

I don't remember my time in the ramshackle immigrant ghetto in Hamilton, Ontario. I was only a baby when we pulled up tent stakes and moved to Chicago. But the few black and white photos that document that place where we stated out were etched in my mind and on my retina. I had pored over them  frequently and for so long that i wasn't sure if I had memories of the actual time or only of the photos.

My mother, Maria Gliori, and her sister, Paola (one year her junior), had come over from Scotland on a luxurious ocean liner--the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth, I can't remember which. They had somehow settled in Hamilton. How they met my father, I don't know.  I figure he was about 26 years old. He was married but apparently never home, making his living by driving cab, winning dance contests, and gambling (pool and poker). My mother was the more beautiful of the two sisters, but she was also the much more shy, so Auntie Paola was the original object of my father's affection.

How my gregarious, handsome father transitioned to my mother, I don't know. Somewhere in the pot, my brother--Mark-- was born, Nona arrived from Italy, three years passed, I was born (a love child), my parents got married, and we were rolling to Chicago.

The family folklore, gleaned from cobbling together scraps of overheard adult conversations, was that my father, armed with the money from selling our little house in the ghetto, went to an all-night poker game. Apparently, he lost all the money, but won it back again before dawn. Our sights were set on L.A., but a stop in Chicago to visit my mother's other emigre siblings ended up being the end of the line.

We plunked down in a little town on Chicago's West side. Our part of town was very blue collar, very White, dusty and dreary. All the action in our neighbourhood took place at the fabled "8 Corners", the equivalent in my father's eyes of Sodom and Gomorrah. I don't mean it was a haven of immorality. Worse, I'm sure, in my father's mind, it was a hang-out for the unambitious flotsam--"hoods" with no plan and  no contribution to society. Although still a "buck" and only grade-6 educated, my father was nothing if not outstandingly hardworking, intelligent and capable of anything he set his mind to, so naturally, the slothful behaviour of the 8-Corners wastrels rankled him to no end.

to be continued...

Launch of New CD: "Give Me Some of It" - August 10, 2013

The launch on August 8 was a great success with an introduction by founder of the Toronto Blues Society, David Barnard, and guests including Managing Editor of Maple Blues, Brian Blain and journalist Matt Green.  Musicians filled the hous, staying and jamming til the wee hours: Bill Westcott, Fabrice Sicco, Ed Toth, Dennis Hall, Simone Sepic, Ori Dagan, and many others!

 

Rita di Ghent and Sam Sharkawy CD Released: "Give Me Some of It: Risque Hits, Vol 1"
On August 8, bandleader/musician/composer Rita di Ghent, is releasing her premier blues recording.
Although "discovered" by David Bernard and Derek Andrews early in her career and presented as one of the featured vocalists in the Women's Blues Revue, di Ghent is known mostly for her jazz singing. The iconic songstress is a two-time Jazz Vocalist of the Year Nominee (National Jazz Awards) and a Prix de Jazz Nominee both for her mainstream  outings and two albums that document an urban music/jazz hybrid that she calls "Sprawl". However, there has always been more than a little bit of blues in her sound. New York journalist, Will Friedwald, wrote of di Ghent's outing "Rita for a Rainy Day":
Rita di Ghent reminds me of how many of the great female jazz singers also excelled at the blues...Rita for a Rainy Day resonates throughout with echoes of those great ladies; Rita reminds us that the blues is not the exclusive property of the apparent thousands of post-Aretha soul sisters who think that the way to express feeling is to shout and stomp and overembellish everything.  Rather, in the right hands, or tonsils, the blues is as subtle and exquisite as anything by Mozart or Bach.  Rita shows us that she knows what all those great women knew: that you don’t have to have what’s regarded as a traditional blues voice, or sound like you spent your whole life as one of Mahalia Jackson’s choir, to sing the blues.

 


Seven solo albums later, di Ghent has materialized the act, "Rita's Parlour", that has always run as an undercurrent to her career. This premier blues outing, "Give Me Some of It: Risque Hits, Vol 1", features a bonus track and two original numbers: "The New You Want to Sell My Monkey Blues" and "Short Man Blues". Rita is thankful to long-time blues show host "Dr. Feelgood" David Bernard for giving her a cassette many years ago of songs that he said he'd like her to apply her Chicago-Italian sass to. It's been a circuitous route, but here they are.
"Give Me Some of It" appears not on di Ghent's label Groove, but the new label, Shark-o-Roonie -Mo Records, formed by guitarist/musical partner Sam "The Shark" Sharkawy. Sharkawy was raised in Montreal and Cairo, Egypt and was for several years a member of Cairo's most successful jobbing band.
di Ghent owes her love of the blues to her legacy: her father, a talented harmonica player, was friend and chauffeur to Louis Armstrong in Chicago. di Ghent's brother, Mark, was a gifted Chicago blues guitarist and blues radio show host. di Ghent received life-long musical guidance from both musical parents, who raised all 5 children to play."Give Me Some of It" was recorded live at the Artword Artbar in Hamilton and the performances remain unedited. As is insisted on by di Ghent in all her outings, not a single note of her singing is allowed to be altered or pitch-controlled. Apart from the old-school approach and salty vintage repertoire, one of the compelling features of this new album is the outtake track. Here you get a keyhole glimpse into the process behind the recording-- from moment the microphone is placed in front of di Ghent's mouth to Rita's farewell to the audience in which she encourages the audience to sing "It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion".
The line-up is di Ghent on piano and voice, Sam "The Shark Sharkawy" on guitar, and Rich Brisco on drums. di Ghent holds down the bass in her left hand. Recording of the session was done by famed engineer, Nick Blagona; mixing was done at George Rondina's Number 9 by engineer Bernie Cisternas.  
The CD Release celebration takes place at deSoto's, 1079 St. Clair West, on Thursday, August 8th from 8:00 to 9:30 (note the short time frame, folks). Following a performance of the album material, there will be a jam session--everyone welcome! THIS EVENT IS FREE!

Finally! The Rita's Parlour CD - January 4, 2012

It's in the can, folks, and will soon be available...all your Rita's Parlour faves on this debut Rita's Parlour disc, recorded live and raw...just the way you like it!

Lingerie Francaise Concert - August 11, 2011

Great photo of the Lionesses in Bizbash:

http://www.bizbash.com/toronto/gallery-images/?id=21214&ord=8

Rita Wins The Thomas T. Tuttle Award - May 3, 2011

Rita wins The Thomas T. Tuttle Award

The T. Temple Tuttle Prize was established in 2001 in memory of Tom Tuttle (Ed.D., Maryland) a founding member of the Niagara Chapter and Professor at Cleveland State University, Coordinator of World Music Studies; Director, Indian Cultural Studies Program,World Musics area studies, mridangam.

Rita won the award for her paper "Gender Wayang on Piano: How an Expert
Solves the Problem" presented in Feb 2011 at The Eastman Scool of Music, Rochester, NY

New Review from WholeNote Magazine - May 3, 2011

 

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All Baby Wants is Me

 

Rita di Ghent

Groove Classic (www.ritadighent.com)

 

In her seventh and latest recording “All Baby Wants is Me” evocative songstress Rita Di Ghent presents a tasty sampling of much loved standards as well as two original compositions, including the jaunty title track. Di Ghent’s trademark haute-cabaret presentation and impeccable good taste are in full swing on this highly enjoyable recording. She effortlessly conjures up visions of smoke-filled speak-easies, and the bluesier numbers are well-served by her smoky, understated vocal style - reminiscent of the late great Lee Wiley.

Rita served as producer and arranger on this project, and she has surrounded herself with an elegant supporting cast of Dave Restivo on piano and B3 organ, Marc Rogers on bass, Daniel Barnes on drums, multi-cultural jazz artist Kenny Kirkwood on saxophone, Nick “Brownman” Ali on trumpet and Fred Raulston on vibes/percussion. The ensemble is nothing short of perfection, and never overpowers the diaphanous Di Ghent. Dave Restivo is acknowledged as one of the most gifted jazz pianists on the scene today, and on this recording he also shows himself to be a masterful accompanist - in the best possible Alan Broadbent sense.

Di Ghent’s clever composition, Nicely Situated is a song in search of a Broadway show, and she delivers it with humour, flair and melodic integrity. Other outstanding tracks include an up-tempo What a Little Moonlight Can Do and George Gershwin’s classic I’ve Got a Crush on You, replete with a gorgeous string arrangement and performance from Jaro Jarosil.

 


Scott Yanow Review of All Baby Wants is Me - April 19, 2011

Rita di Ghent is an excellent jazz singer from Toronto. While she has performed a wide variety of music, All Baby 
Wants Is Me has 11 veteran standards and two of her songs. Joined by Dave Restivo on piano and organ, a rhythm 
section, saxophonist Kenny Kirkwood, trumpeter Nick Ali and vibraphonist Fred Raulston, she revives Joe Mooney's 
“Nowhere,” introduces the title track, and comes up with fresh approaches to such songs as “You Go To My Head,” 
“You're Not The Kind,” “What A Little Moonlight Can Do” and “You Hit The Spot.” While it might be a mistake at 
this point to sing “Over The Rainbow” (it has been done before!), her version beats most of the ones out today. Rita 
di Ghent sometimes reshapes the melodies a bit to fit her voice and mood, and does a fine job of filling her 
interpretations with subtle surprises. She is a singer well worth discovering. All Baby Wants Is Me is available from 
www.ritadighent.com.

All Baby Wants is Me Review From Russia - April 19, 2011


Мы почти что уверены ,что имя Rita di Ghent и название ее диска ‘All Baby Wants Is Me’ и выпустившего его лейбла Groove Classic- в новинку, как и для нас самих. Тем более интересное открытие ждет Си-Ди гурманов: мало что сообщающая о себе Рита ди Гент дебютировала в начале 1990-х в Нью-Йорке, но – в отличие от большинства своих соотечественников, «не пропала» в США: в основном, Рита ди Гент занимается преподаванием джазового вокала у себя на родине, в Канаде. Понемногу выпускает диски и сочиняет джазовые песни, которые вполне могут еще стать международными хитами. Как, например, заглавная композиция All Baby Wants Is Me. И эта мелодия и еще одна – тоже ее собственного сочинения, и два эстрадно-джазовых «эвергрина» познакомят Си-Ди гурманов с этой незаурядной личностью и певицей.


We are almost confident that the name Rita di Ghent, and the title of her disc "All Baby Wants Is Me", which was released by Groove Classic, - is a novelty (or something new), it is new for us personally as well. Moreover, interesting discovery is waiting for CD enthusiasts: Rita di Ghent, who informs little about herself (or who doesn't let us know a lot about herself), had her debut at the beginning of the 1990s in New York. However, unlike most of her fellow countrymen (or people that live in the same country as you) did not "get lost" (or fail) in the USA. For the most part, Rita di Ghent is teaching jazz vocal in her native land Canada. Gradually (or little by little) she releases CDs and composes jazz songs, which could well become international hits. This is the case, for example, with the title (or the one same with heading) track, All Baby Wants Is Me. This melody, along with another original one, as well as two popular-jazz "evergreens" will introduce CD enthusiasts (or music lovers) to this remarkable person and singer.

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