Singer/songwriter Claudia Acuna has been performing well over 20 years, starting out in her native Chile. It was there her desire to become a performer developed and was nurtured by those around her.
“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” Acuna said. “I was always a part of a choir or tried to join any artistic group at school. So many people helped me find opportunities to just sing.”
Acuna admits to hearing artists like Erroll Garner and being intrigued by the music even before she knew that the music was called jazz.
“I was attracted to jazz because of the freedom of it,” Acuna explained. “It’s the only form of music where so many influences combine to make one sound. It’s like a cake.”
She explained that this is why she can never simply create a list of her musical influences that helped create her smooth, graceful vibe.
“So many people have been influential in my music and my approach,” Acuna said. “It would be unfair to name just a few, because I have been very blessed to be exposed to so many styles of music and so many talented artists.”
Not only has she been blessed with many influences, but she has also been blessed with many unique experiences.
“I’ve performed in small clubs and big theaters,” Acuna said. “I was honored to have the opportunity to perform in Pompeii, to perform with an orchestra, bands in Chile. I’ve performed with Branford Marsalis and Dianne Reeves.”
These unique performances are not limited to venues with live audiences. Acuna spent some time recording jingles and doing voiceovers for cartoons while in Santiago, Chile.
“It was fun,” Acuna recalled. “It was a way to make good money, and I was able to meet some people when I came to New York that gave me more work, allowing me to stay here because I couldn’t go to school. Even though I never acted, I discovered this possibility that through my voice I could do different characters. If I get the chance to do it again, I would love it. I love cartoons.”
Her passion is not reserved only for the arts. Acuna has a big heart and a desire to help those in need. She is a former spokesperson for World Vision Chile.
“Some other things I’ve been passionate about throughout my life are animals, nature and children,” Acuna said. “Through some friends of mine – well-known journalists and actresses in Chile -- I was invited to be a part of the organization. I was involved for quite a bit because I loved the type of work they were doing. They helped the children and their families. They gave them back their dignity.”
Children are extremely close to Acuna’s heart, as she has a 1-year old of her own. She admitted that her favorite song is a new song she penned called “El Futuro.” It was written to her son during her pregnancy, and is about the hopes and dreams she held for him.
“I love the song. It has a naked feel to it. My husband and I were so excited, curious and scared imagining this little person,” Acuna said. “We wondered how he would react to smells and sounds, just how he would respond to life. We wanted to make sure we gave him a platform to fly high, but also roots to come home.”
With all she has accomplished thus far, Acuna still wants to do more. She has big dreams and wants to work on many other projects.
“For my new project, my goal is to have completely original songs,” Acuna said. “I want it to be a world collective. I would like to put together all my influences and tell my story through songs. I want to write even more and maybe teach. I definitely want to get back into cartoons. I want to continue to progress in my music and career.”
One of those big dreams will be fulfilled soon enough. Acuna has always wanted to visit and perform in the Big Easy, and that dream is coming true.
“I’m so excited,” Acuna said. “As a jazz singer, you always want to perform in a city like New Orleans. I am excited to perform there. I hope people like the show, so I can come back.”
New Orleanians are sure to love Acuna’s eclectic sound. Although her songs are primarily in Spanish, her music transcends language barriers and speaks to the heart of her fans.
“I want to honor my background,” Acuna said. “My music is influenced by South America, rock, classical. I want to see that people are enjoying themselves. I love performing. I love when the crowd is receptive. When I have that at a show, it leaves me recharged and inspired to create more.”
Claudia Acuna will perform at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. and at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro in New Orleans on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m.
For more information on Acuna you can visit her website at www.claudiaacuna.com or visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/claudiaacunamusic