Rita di Ghent was born in Hamilton, Ontario. When she was a baby, her family moved to Chicago where some of her Mother's siblings had emigrated to. Rita's father drove for a living, becoming Louis Amstrong's chauffeur. He also chauffeured luminaries such as The Beatles, Bill Cosby, and Robert Culp.
Rita's training began at age three with ballet and tap dancing. Her first big stage show was at 8 years, tap dancing to the music of Ramsay Lewis. Her musical parents got her a clarinet and private teacher around the same time. After years playing clarinet, Rita began playing violin. Through her father's musical influence, Rita fell in love with and began singing jazz in high school, drawing on childhood memories of her Mother's ever-constant singing voice.
Rita has become a world-wide artist of note and the inventor of an original jazz genre that she calls Sprawl -- a combination of traditional jazz, contemporary urban music, and painterly stories. Her many accolades include a nomination for the Montreal Jazz Festival's Prix de Jazz for her acclaimed "The Birth of Sprawl".
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"di Ghent is a true original... absolutely captivating. This vocalist is a coveted Canadian treasure.” (The Jazz Review)
“Rita di Ghent is a hot vocalist in the grand tradition with a beautiful mezzo voice that really swings…there are so few singers capable of doing what she can accomplish.” (Jazz Hot Magazine, Paris)
“The coolest jazz diva on the scene.” (Ottawa X-press)
"The girl is BRILLIANT!!! She's got a million dollars down her throat! (Harold Ellison ("The Jazz Cafe" TripleU-FM Nowra, New South Wales, Australia)
“…to find an artist who can write and perform out of a traditional jazz setting, and yet do it in a way that appeals to a wide cross-section of musical tastes in no easy feat. To find this quality in an artist who also maintains the highest standards of musical integrity is even more rare. Rita is such an artist.” (The Medicine Hat News)
"Rita paints lyrical pictures with colour and detachment, pulling you in and leaving you wondering… Who knows?Maybe one day they’ll make one of those Canadian Heritage commercials about the invention of Sprawl…” (Eye Magazine, Toronto)
“[keynote presenter] di Ghent uses her soulful voice and spoken-word infused original jazz tunes to inspire audiences to consider how others live their lives – the struggles they go through, the prejudices they face, and the challenges they strive to overcome. It is impossible to hear her perform and not come away inspired to listen better to people’s stories, their pain, and their joys.” (Joan Harrison, U of Ottawa Symposium Democratic Dialogue Via the Arts)