An Interview with Singer/Songwriter Jasmine Tommaso
Jasmine Tommaso’s singing breaks my heart. Her talent for conveying vulnerability and strength at the same time, and for giving her all every time, makes each song a journey.
Jasmine, the daughter of renowned bassist Giovanni Tommaso, has long had a passion for music and began vocal and piano training at a young age with a special appreciation for jazz. She attended the Berklee College of Music on scholarship and went on to perform at important music festivals and in acclaimed venues. A couple years ago she began writing and composing her own music, and today is working on her first album which will be released autumn 2013.
In this interview Jasmine speaks of love and art, and why humanity would be lost without them. Welcome , Jasmine!
How did you “discover” your voice? Have you always known you were a singer?
I was very young when I learned I love to sing. I began studying with a wonderful vocal trainer, Catia di Stefano, in my home town, Mentana, outside of Rome, Italy. Everything took off very quickly from there, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew-up. I simply knew I loved performing.
My mother, Kelly Morris, is an incredible modern dance choreographer. She had her own school at the time and that’s where I spent most of my days. I was surrounded by art; dance and music were my life. I couldn’t think about these art forms as separate entities: One couldn’t exist without the other.
What music did you grow up with? Have your tastes and affinities evolved over time?
I grew up with a world of different styles of music. Jazz, however, was by far the most present. My father, Giovanni Tommaso, is a wonderful Jazz bassist much appreciated in Italy and the world. I realize now how blessed I was to grow up in such a musical home. Listening to him play each day shaped the person I am.
I did have a “rebellious” phase in which I strayed from the more sophisticated styles of music and explored the realms of a more commercial pop. I appreciate it very much even today.
Ultimately, I believe my taste is continuously evolving and ever-changing. I found it important to study many different styles of music to help me find my own true voice.
What drew you to musical theatre? How is singing within the context of a story different from singing a pop song?
When I first moved to the United States, I enrolled in the South Orange County School of the Arts. That is where I discovered musical theatre. I already knew I loved to sing and dance, but I hadn’t thought about incorporating acting into these art-forms as well.
It was a true discovery that amplified my love for performing and added a new dimension to my singing. The intensity of my expression became more tangible within the context of a story. I felt compelled to tell and share my character’s experiences with the audience. This somehow made my voice bigger and stronger. I still bring this experience in my singing today.
You will be the living voice of ballerina Margit Wolf on the first recordings of You, Fascinating You, a musical currently in development. What appeals to you about this project? Is there a particular quality in Margit to which you relate?
It is such an honor and a splendid opportunity to be a part of this incredible project. Not only am I ecstatic to return to musical theatre, I am thrilled to participate in the retelling of a truly moving love story. One that goes beyond all odds.
I connected with this project immediately. The book ties-in with my country of origin, Italy, and is filled with a palpable density of art, love, hardship, travel and perseverance.
The strength of Margit’s character is what I most relate to. Love and art are the two most important things in this world; without them I’d be lost. We’d all be lost.
You have a smashing new album about to debut. What can you tell us about it?
Thank you! Yes! The title of my debut album is “Listening Party!” It’s a collection of rearranged cover songs from the 20s through the 70s and also contains a few original songs.
This project began when I was working in a chocolate shop in West Los Angeles about a year ago. My current producer, Marvin Etzioni, came in to enjoy a chocolate waffle and the rest is history…
It’s a record that encompasses my first year of experiences here in Los Angeles, a year of transformation, growth, hardships, disappointment, excitement, wonder, music, love, and unlikely coincidences. Completing this record has been an incredible journey. I have met and lost new friends along the way, and I’ve learned to appreciate and value time.
“Listening Party!” is also a record about acceptance and the art of “letting go.” We cannot foresee the extent to which a single experience can gift us; it may be much greater than anything we could ever imagine. For this I have learned to simply do my best while keeping a light heart. Music will take me where I need to be.
What is next for Jasmine Tommaso? What dreams have you yet to realize?
What’s next? Who knows! I have many projects I’d like to see through. I’m looking forward to returning to Italy in September to promote my new album and to perform in my home country. And then perhaps explore the musical scene in Europe a bit.
I also would love to do more work for music in films. I had the opportunity to step into that realm a little here in Los Angeles and found it incredibly fascinating.
My dreams are certainly music-filled! I’m not quite sure what the future holds, but I’m very excited and motivated to continue writing and singing. And for the rest, as I always say, “We’ll see how it unfolds.”
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