Joanna Borromeo is a treasure of Calgary's soul/jazz music scene, a Juno-nominated vocalist, pianist, and composer influenced by some of the deepest, most beautiful musicians in history. Her approach to music strikes a compelling balance between science and art, showing equal amounts of eloquence in musicianship and emotional expression.
Joanna is a trained pianist in both classical and jazz music, having formally studied at the University of Calgary and Humber College in Toronto. She’s drawn creative inspiration from a myriad of sources, but points out that classical music taught her the most about musicality. The cascading layers of Bach fugues, the painterly characteristics of Debussy preludes, the supreme emotional power inherent in Rachmaninoff compositions, and Bartok’s daring approach to 20th century music - those particular hallmarks of creativity were what influenced Joanna the most and it was her experiences with classical music that served as a saving grace when she was accepted as a student at Humber College. At the time of her enrolment, Joanna was quite new to the jazz genre. By graduation, she had made impressive leaps and bounds with jazz and was awarded the prestigious President’s Medal, receiving recognition from faculty members for her artistic and academic achievements.
While she is undeniably rooted in traditional styles of music, Joanna is ultimately a true artist of the genre of soul/jazz music. What has always captivated her about the genre is how it continues to propel the true spirit of jazz forward. A focus on innovation and boundary-pushing by way of integrating elements of soul, R&B and hip hop with jazz, soul/jazz music has been both a mode and a home for Joanna. Since her childhood and up until now, Joanna has always been that faithful listener to the pioneers, influencers and contributors to soul/jazz, plucking valuable musical insights from influential artists like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, Amel Larrieux, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, J Dilla, and Robert Glasper.
To date, Joanna has produced two albums: Through the Dark and Kaleidoscope, a record that earned her a Juno Award nomination for Soul/R&B Recording of the Year in 2014. Since then, Joanna has collaborated with beatmakers from different corners of the world and has spent a significant amount of time touring and building connections in California. In the following year, a life-changing event, one that involved heartbreaking loss that left Joanna devastated, spurred an 18-month hiatus from composing new music. This important period gave Joanna the opportunity to slow down, focus on the simpler task of fine-tuning her vocal and piano technique, and overcome the personal challenges laid before her.
Heartache and devastation now behind her, Joanna has returned to songwriting with renewed vigour. Her latest iteration of musical style shows a return to the more adventurous spirit that marked the beginning of her solo artist career. What's different now is that Joanna's music is more eloquent than ever, thanks to the sense of depth and sharpness that comes with the passage of time and living through life's worst and best.
Awards & nominations
2014 Juno Award Nomination for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year - Kaleidoscope
2013 Western Canadian Music Award for Urban Recording of the Year - Kaleidoscope
#9 on the National Jazz Charts (Canada; March 2013) - Kaleidoscope
Winning Finalist for R&B Song Category - John Lennon Songwriting Competition (2010) - Through the Dark
Winning Finalist for R&B Song Category - Great American Song Contest (2009) - Through the Dark