Tiffa Cruz, Candy Diaz, Carly Smith, Kelli Heath, Anela Choy and Connie Cruz are each accomplished singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists who have combined their artistic efforts to form a collective now known as THE GIRLAS, and have recently released a stunning debut album: Now or Never, from Kototama Productions. (Style: likely to be categorized as ACOUSTIC FOLK, but musical influences include jazz, blues, rock, slack key and bluegrass.)
Tiffa Cruz: The Cruz family name is synonymous with extreme and unbelievable talent and Tiffa Cruz is certainly no exception. A gifted musician and praise and worship leader, Tiffa’s charming, bubbly personality leaves few without smiles. While not singing at church or performing with The Girlas, Tiffa can often be found sitting in and jamming with her brothers Ernie Jr., John, and Guy at various gigs around town. Tiffa and her younger sister Connie have even sat in with John and Jack Johnson at last years Kokua Festival. A graduate of Pacific Rim Bible College, Tiffa will starting a new chapter of her life with her marriage to Imua Garza (local talent extraordinaire and member of the Opihi Pickers) this March. The pair make for unstoppable talent and can often be seen playing together around town to satisfied crowds.
Candy Diaz: Listen to Candy sing on stage and you’ll soon find that she has a strong penchant for old torch jazz music. Candy is the daughter of Omar Diaz, a well know musician and businessman in Hawai’i and the Philippines. Candy’s father’s influence and guidance have encouraged her musicianship from a young age. Originally born in California, Candy moved to Hawaii at a young age and is a graduate of Roosevelt High School. She is currently working in the private health care field. A married woman, Candy contributed/co-wrote 3 original compositions to the album.
Carly Smith: Carly comes from a strong family tradition in California’s bluegrass scene and is the daughter of renowned bluegrass musician Ty Smith, and is also the cousin of fellow Girla Tiffa Cruz. Carly spent most of her life living and playing music in California, and recently moved to Hawai’i a few years ago to explore her musical roots in the islands. These roots tie her to the infamous Cruz Ohana, a family who unbeknownst to most, has strong ties to the bluegrass community in California. Carly contributed 2 original compositions to the album.
Kelli Heath: Kelli has an amazing talent for guitar composition and she was the creative producer “Now or Never” and is a member of Kototama Productions. Born and raised in Hawaii, Kelli is currently living in Tempe, Arizona, where she is continuing her studies in music engineering and production at the world-class Conservatory for the Recording Arts. Among her numerous musical accomplishments, Kelli has toured the Northwest as a solo artist, has worked as an assistant engineer on over 6 albums in the past two years, including work with Jake Shimabukuro, J-Roq and Kupa’aina, and has also toured the US as the guitar tech for Barry Flanagan of Hawaii’s beloved musical group Hapa. Kelli is a graduate of Kaiser High School and also has a degree from Chaminade University. In addition to her producing and engineering work on the album, Kelli also contributed/co-wrote 3 original compositions on the album.
Anela Choy: Anela was encouraged into music only a few years ago when at the time, her father was part owner of one of Hawaii’s premier guitar stores, Island Guitars. After returning from working and living in Los Angeles for a year, Anela joined the performing collective as a bass player and rhythm guitarist. Anela also co-wrote the haunting track “Ghost” with fellow Girla Tiffa Cruz, who sang and played the song on the album. Anela is the designated Girla photographer and artwork woman, working alongside fellow Girla Candy Diaz. Born and raised in Hawaii, Anela is a proud graduate of Roosevelt High School. Anela has a degree in Marine Science and is currently working as an independent environmental consultant under her own private consulting company. She is looking to soon return to graduate school for an advanced Oceanography degree.
Connie Cruz: The youngest of the Cruz Ohana, Connie is an amazingly gifted singer and songwriter who graciously offered three of her original compositions for the album: “Crazy”, as covered by Tiffa, “Make You Mine,” as covered by Carly, and lastly “Hi/Lo,” as covered by Candy. With a voice that can pierce your soul and a sweet personality that can melt your heart, Connie is a young inspiration to many. Although it was her original intent to be part of this album, marriage and military duty called her and her husband to North Carolina. Though separated by thousands of miles of water and land, Connie continues her involvement with The Girlas by continuing in her depth-defying songwriting and singing.
For more info check out: www.thegirlas.com