Carmela grew up in upstate New York learning the Great American Songbooks at an early age, as her father was a big band swing coronet player and the large Sicilian family gatherings always included live music.
She got involved in musical theater in high school but was enthralled by jazz.
In New York City she attended ‘Theatrium’ (a Strasberg Institute training) and became involved in off-off broadway theater and appeared in a few independent films, later training with Eric Morris. Carmela moved to Los Angeles in ‘92 , working in the L. A. Theater scene and on several feature films with such notable film directors as Rob Reiner, Wolfgang Petersen, Jonathan Lynn and Ken Kwapis. She trained vocally with Dan Balestrero.
She began to perform in the L. A. Jazz scene with the Jon Mayer trio and recorded her first record ‘Black and White’ , a straight ahead standards record with them.
After appearing in many of the local clubs she recorded her second cd with Paul Smith, Jim DeJulio and Joe LaBarbera. This cd ‘Regarding Frank’ was a tribute record to Sinatra and his 50’s Capitol years.
Shortly after this she formed her own trio. Out of this trio ‘The Girl Who Dreams Out Loud’ was conceived. This cd was a departure from familiar jazz standards and a new exploration of original materials by such notables as Hirth Martinez, Donald Fagen, Mike Melvoin and Carmela.
Her latest cd, “Joseph City”, combines straight ahead covers, with some very unique standard arrangements and some originals by Carmela. For this project Carmela worked with Pete Snell, Armando Compean and Lee Spath, and featured on this cd is tango master Coco Trivisonno on bandoneon.
While recently residing in New Mexico she was nominated for a New Mexico Music Award for best original jazz song, appeared in local theater and worked on the feature film “A Bird Of the Air” . She has served on the board of New Mexico Women In Film as fund raising chair, producing two highly successful events for NMWIF. One of which featured Roy Orbison’s “A Black and White Night” and benefited New Mexico’s homeless children. She can also be seen as Lilith Bengalis on the internet series Cyphers.
Carmela now resides in New York City where she continues to write and perform , recently appearing at The Metropolitan Room.
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Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.
I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."