A very promising singer who is dedicated to jazz, Michelle Manzo has a warm voice, a four-octave range, she puts her heart into every word she sings, and she has a unique and individual sound. With her many musical influences she has proven to be extremely versatile in taking many different musical directions.
Born and raised in Miami, Michelle remembers hearing Cuban folkloric music while she was growing up. “Our family used to get together and play percussion instruments and chant. It is a spiritual connection that most Cubans have. But I had a special interest in classical music, especially Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. My ears were wide open at an early age. I was eager to absorb anything musical.“ Michelle, who was mostly self-taught on piano by then, started off singing in church and in school. She attended a high school that offered rigorous training for vocalists and was one of the top singers in the advanced show choir were they performed a capellas and show tunes. She traveled with the group to national competitions, performed in many places along the East coast and around Florida were they won countless awards. When she graduated from high school, Michelle was unsure what to do next. Attending college, she thought of becoming a teacher, but the turning point occurred when she took a jazz appreciation class. “It took place at eight in the morning in the summer. The teacher had us differentiate between all of the different instruments, recognize the style and personality of each player as well as vocabulary generating from that era.
Very quickly I was completely hooked. I immersed myself in jazz and constantly listened to records. I loved the syncopated rhythms, which hit so close to home as it reminded me of Cuban and African music, and also the complex harmonies that I could hear in Bach and Beethoven. It brought everything together that I had grown up listening to and it made perfect sense. I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing, and wanted to do it for the rest of my life.” Although she continued performing top 40, Latin music and R&B, and recorded commercial jingles, she had found her true musical direction.
After earning an associate degree in Music from Miami Dade College and enrolling in the University of Miami School Of Music, in 2003 Michelle decided to move to New York. “New York is the Mecca for jazz and I had to be here. I wanted to learn from the greats. Fortunately I began working as a singer rather quickly and developed great musical relationships with many musicians in New York.” She then pursued her bachelors in Fine Arts at City College University and graduated Cum Laude.
Michelle Manzo has performed at the Cape Cod Jazz Festival, Raue Performing Arts Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The National Arts Club and sings regularly at the Zinc Bar and many other venues throughout New York. Among the musicians who she has performed with are Ray Santos, Victor Jones, Gene Bertoncini, and Les Paul. She has also worked with Spanish rock, Salsa and Merengue groups. She won an award at a songwriter’s festival in Taiwan for a song that she wrote based on a Buddhist poem. And was chosen to sing the world premiere of two new Dave and Iola Brubeck compositions. Michelle also narrated and sang in the children‘s audio book that was written on Celia Cruz.Now based in Miami she performs regularly at the Setai, Loews, and the Van Dyke Jazz cafe. She currently is on tour throughout the Orient and just finished a performing in Japan at the Maduro Bar in the Grand Hyatt Tokyo.