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A classical education, decorated with opera, soul and musical theater backgrounds, is merely a drop in a deep blue bucket for this undeniably gifted chanteuse. Certainly we should recognize Rhian’s formal training at the University of Northern Colorado and her study under such talents as Sarah Dash (LaBelle) and internationally renowned opera singer Diane Bolden-Taylor. It is just as important to note her honorable mention in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition for her composition Time.
Though she has clearly left a mark on the musical universe through each of her accomplishments, nothing can prepare one for what transpires the moment Rhian parts her lips to set free her vocal splendor. Rhian has a unique ability to transpose her environments, her cultures and her choices into profound lyrical arrangements that reflect an awareness of a universal experience.
Born in New York and reared in Trinidad, Rhian was destined to breathe notes filled with diversity, warmth and spice. The same voice that has journeyed through Gospel and Jazz realms can just as easily ease into a Caribbean melody and mix it up with urban flavors. Much like a chameleon, Rhian is able to take on the colors of the music that surrounds her, becoming one with sound and vibration. With a quality such as this, it is no wonder that her nation-wide experiences include performances at the Blue Note Jazz Club, a vocal appearance on RH Factor’s 2004 Grammy-nominated Strength EP and background vocal performances with Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets.
Still, the most extraordinary quality that Rhian possesses is not her many notable accomplishments, not the fact that she writes and arranges her own songs . . . it is her power to reach within each listening individual and touch the part that longs to fly. She is not afraid to plunge into the depths of human emotion and she does it naturally.
She is a performer who undoubtedly shifts the paradigm for today’s artist.
She is Rhian Ayanna.