A clear, fresh voice… smooth jazz, some seductive soul, sophisticated songwriting, deep emotions and pure pop perfection…that’s the sound of Barbie Anaka, Northwest Contemporary Vocalist, Songwriter, Pianist, Producer and Music Educator. A mix of eclectic influences; artists like: Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Sade and Prince; her style blends meaningful lyrics, solid grooves and catchy melodies. Rave reviews at radio, television and print media say she’s one to watch in the national music scene. Seattle radio host Cedric James of KWJZ-FM, 98.9 “Smooth Jazz” states, “Barbie Anaka is a jazz vocalist well on her way to earning national recognition.” Los Angeles’ New Music Weekly magazine writes, “Were we ever impressed… this artist combines brains with beauty… and has excellent material that is very radio ready.”
Drawn to piano at age 5, Barbie taught herself to play and compose. It was natural to be gifted with talent; her great-grandfather (a musician, actor, magician and inventor) created and starred in the first traveling vaudeville show in Canada. He made records of himself and his family singing and playing musical instruments since the 1950’s.
In grade school, Barbie honed her performance skills by studying piano, voice, dance, acting and modeling. Musical proficiency and tenacity paid off; a producer recruited her for sessions as a back-up vocalist at age 15. Musicals, commercials and modeling followed. On to prestigious Cornish College of the Arts via a Merit scholarship, she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music (jazz voice). At 19, airplay of a jazz demo garnered the interest of well-respected industry veterans: bassist/composer John Clayton, Jr. (The Clayton Brothers, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall), hit songwriter/producer Jay King (of Club Nouveau/Timex Social Club fame), and jazz pianist Billy Wallace (Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRea). They became mentors, guiding the promising vocalist through ins and outs of music and the music business.
Post college brought session work, collaborations with other songwriters, the recording of several demo’s, and gigs with R & B and top-40 bands. Barbie sat in regularly at jazz jam sessions, eventually forming her own original group. She played concerts, festivals, restaurants and coffeehouses, developing material for the debut CD, In Love With a Memory. A sold-out show celebrating the disc’s release at world-renowned Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley placed the artist in demand, granting a live television performance on the morning news, press recognition, and a busy performance schedule. Weekendenvironments.com praised the recording, “I like every song on this wonderful disc… I believe you will find there is not a single song you will want to skip,” and New Age Retailer magazine said, “Anaka’s voice is pure and fresh…. the musicians are excellent and the arrangements sing with originality and gentle passion.” The title track (In Love With a Memory) fared well in an international songwriting competition, receiving Honorable Mention in the Billboard Song Contest. The lead track from the same CD, “Humanity”, won a slot on the “Future Hits” CD, volume 13, released to radio stations nationwide. “Humanity” was also selected by producer Stece Zuckerman as the lead track on his double album for charity, “Hope: Love is the Answer”, joining such artists as Christopher Cross on the project.
The follow-up to the first CD did not disappoint the growing audience enjoying Barbie’s music. Ballads Through the Night, recorded with pianist David Loy, returned the singer to her jazz roots; showcasing a pristine, mature tone, a culmination of experience and dedication to her craft. Indie-Music.com writes, “This is moonlight over a quiet ocean. A romantic dinner by candlelight. Barbie Anaka is a more angelic Streisand with a sultry, resonant, rich voice that turns old-fashioned, classic jazz into living magic.” Indiemusicreview.com praised the vocalist, “One thing is certain – this girl can sing! Her rich vocal tones shine with unwavering beauty as she carefully pushes out each syllable.” And weekendenvironments.com said, “You want sultry and seductive, powerful and inspiring, tender and romantic it is all here!”
Barbie Anaka & her group were most recently featured as house band (for two years straight), at Seattle’s only waterfront hotel - The Edgewater Hotel/67 Lounge, The Sea Sounds Concert Series, The Bite of Seattle, The Out-to-Lunch Concert Series, festivals, clubs and many private events. She has shared the stage with members of The Dazz Band, Club Nouveau, the Max Roach band, and has opened for Big Brother and the Holding Company. Though her performance schedule keeps her busy and traveling throughout the region, Barbie has produced several projects besides her own: Paulina Alvarado – Mi Universo (album - Latin based pop, Producer), Microsoft – Men in Black (one-off, Co-Producer), Jennifer Eriksen – The Star (single, Producer), Marina Jang – You are the Man (single, Producer), Nicole Rinne – Feliz Navidad (single, Producer).
Currently, Barbie is writing and in pre-production for her third CD. She continues performing with her band at many top west coast venues, working as a session vocalist and producer, coaching new artists and teaching seminars about the Music Business. She is also a voting member of the Recording Academy.