Jacinta Luis was born in Tanzania, East Africa, into a family of musicians whose musical roots go back to their ancestral origins in Goa, India. She grew up in an environment where everyone sang and played at least one instrument. Jacinta herself started classical piano training at age 3 1/2. Jam sessions were one of the Luis family’s favourite activities. Early on Jacinta came to enjoy the swing and bossa nova tunes her father’s band, the Jazz Swingers, rehearsed at their home. At age 7, Jacinta began performing with her sister in a piano, voice and percussion duo for the Miss Universe Gala, and an audience of five hundred including heads of state. At the age of nine, Jacinta had the thrill of singing on national TV and radio.
In 1971, the Luis family moved to Canada and settled in Montreal. Jacinta continued her classical music studies in high school, at Dawson College and then at Concordia University. She stayed with her classical training up to the age of 20, when she made the transition to jazz.
Since then, she has had a full performing career: as a solo pianist and vocalist and in quartets at Montreal hotels, such as the Four Seasons, the Ritz Carlton and the Bonaventure Hilton as well as the best jazz clubs in the city, including Biddle’s, Puzzles, L’ Air du Temps and Le Bijou. Jacinta has also appeared at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. She has had the honour of sharing the stage with some of our finest jazz artists: Oliver Jones, Charlie Biddle, Johnny Scott, Bernard Primeau, André White, Tilden Webb and Sylvie Desgroseilliers. One of the high points in Jacinta’s life was an unforgettable night when Billy Joel, who happened to be passing through Montreal, came up to the piano and asked if he could jam with her. Needless to say, she accepted!
During this time Jacinta was also teaching, while continuing with her own studies. As a teacher at Dawson College, she shared her passion for music with her students, and appeared with them in benefit concerts at the college. In 1993, she was granted a master’s degree in music education at the University of Victoria, where she developed her interest in vocal jazz, big band arranging and composition, as well as the philosophy and practice of music pedagogy.
DISCOVERY was the successful outcome of four years’ intensive work, including compositions and arrangements. Released in 1998, this first CD explores the discovery of love and true friendship. These original songs, though essentially popular, are driven by the influences of the jazz, Latin and funk rhythms the songwriter-composer has always loved. They reflect the entire creative process and push the envelope of the inspirational source that motivates her.
Jacinta’s second album, SHINE, was also released in 1998. This time, she took on a full ensemble: piano, guitar, bass, drums, percussion and voice. SHINE presents a selection of all-original compositions, with the exception of lyrics for one song, written by Ian Luis, her brother, whose words gave the album its title. Jacinta composed the music. The piece expresses Ian’s great courage, enlightened spirit and ability to channel positive energy, despite his suffering from AIDS. Ian passed away from the devastating illness on September 26, 1999.
It was a very sad time for Jacinta, a period of mourning where she focused on her life as a teacher and concentrated her energy on administrative work. With her usual generosity, however, she agreed to perform at certain benefit concerts, and this gradually restored her desire to sit down at the piano and do what she loved best of all – create and compose music.
After some years away from professional performing, Jacinta resumed her relationship with the stage and her audience, inspired by renewed energy and creativity. Accompanied by her new trio, which she named The Groove, she played to sold-out houses at La Butte St-Jacques in November 2009. That same year, she took part in a special concert at Dawson College in Montreal. Jacinta Luis & The Groove then took on a series of engagements. In May 2010, they had a major success at the Al Green Theatre in Toronto. In July, they appeared at the Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill in Montreal. In August, Jacinta responded to a request by the World Goan Alliance to compose and record a theme song. She also dedicated the song “Espoir/Hope” to the Farah Foundation in Montreal and to Casey House in Toronto, two associations that work with AIDS patients.
Jacinta was back on top when she composed her third album, with the evocative title RESURGENCE. The concert with her Jazz Quintet to launch the album was a huge success at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill in October 2010. This was followed by another successful concert at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall in October 2010. The impact of the artist’s return to her own roots with their Latin rhythms and strong bossa nova presence is clear. Of her three albums, RESURGENCE has the strongest fusion of world music and jazz. Last year ended on a high note for Jacinta when she was invited to the Goa Chitra Jazz Fest in India, where she was the first of 52 participating artists to appear on the main stage on December 18. Arts media figures attending the event were spellbound, and their articles and reviews were full of praise.