Antoinette

Monday, March 30th, 2009

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Sometimes your time comes when it comes and there’s not much you can do but be open and ready. That certainly applies to Pittsburgh-based vocalist Antoinette Manganas, whose music encompasses contemporary adult pop, jazz and R&B. After years of being discouraged from following her dream of a music career, Manganas took a deep breath and jumped in four years ago, making a commitment to making her dream come true. 

Manganas grew up around music and always dreamed of singing. She recalls her father listening to Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, Sammy Davis Jr, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, her sister playing the Beatles and Chicago. Her own tastes ran to Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind and Fire, Frankie Beverly and Chaka Khan. She soaked it all up. But in her traditional Italian-Argentine family, she says, “My parents were always, ‘keep the peace; do what you have to do and keep other people happy.’ My father was protective and didn’t want me on the road.”

Four years ago, divorced and working in the deli she owned, she felt like she’d reached a dead end. “I was paying everyone else and I was taking home $10 a day. One day I was making a gyro and someone came in and said, ‘Antoinette, with a voice like yours, you should be singing.’ I said, ‘You know, that’s right. I should. I’m outta here.’”  Manganas contacted a Pittsburgh booking agency, put together a band and a set list, and started playing around town. Word spread quickly and soon she was playing choice shows in the Western Pennsylvania area.

“It all started at a little place called Déjà vu in the Strip District in Pittsburgh,” she recalls. “We played there regularly and people loved it. People were hungry for this music. There was this woman Donna Ambrogi, that used to live near me and we sort of knew each other from the neighborhood. Donna came in one day and said she heard this voice from the speakers outside and when she heard it was me, she was amazed. She came to me like an angel, invested in my career. Together we worked hard and started our own company, Milestone Entertainment.”

Manganas began recording, putting together a release called Angel Eyes. She recorded a tune she’d penned called Where Do We Go From Here recorded as a duet with former Shalamar vocalist Howard Hewett from nearby Akron OH. Its R&B flavour caught the ear of an Atlanta promoter who brought Manganas down there to perform at an R&B festival in front of 3,000 people. There she made contacts that led to work with name R&B producers and artists from bands such as Lakeside and the SOS Band. 

The new disc, titled Verbal Crush, reflects the full scope of Manganas’ musical tastes. Among its twelve tracks are a version of Hall and Oates’ Sara Smile; the Barry Manilow hit Could It Be Magic redone in jazz style; the duet with Hewett; the Norman Connors-produced My Love Is All That, originally intended for Phyllis Hyman and given to Manganas by Connor because he felt she resembled Hyman; Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive;” and a club/lounge remix of the classic Summertime. She’s deftly supported by David Crisci on piano and Jason Miller on saxophone. 

“I combine the sound of today with old school,” says Manganas. “Back then, it was about romance. There’s a lot of old-school soul but also a sultry jazz side. They’re heart songs, with a lot of emotion and passion in the music.”

Today, Manganas is chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. With her kids grown, getting married and having kids of their own (her tune A Song for Stella is about her granddaughter), and support from her once-reluctant family, she’s ready to take her music to the world. She feels it’s fated. 

“My time is now,” she says. “I feel like God has preserved me for now. I’m very spiritual and I know in my heart this is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s like I’m at the end of my war and I’ve got to have victory. It’s my turn and I’m taking it.”

You can learn more about Antoinette by accessing her official website at www.Antoinettesings.net.

 

Featured song from Antoinette’s CD, Verbal Crush 

Where Do We Go From Here, duet with the lengendary Howard Hewett

 

 

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