Originally from Rome but now based in New York City, Italian singer/songwriter Chiara Civello is an eclectic, far-reaching artist who brings a variety of pop, jazz, cabaret and Latin influences to the table. Although Civello has performed straight-ahead jazz in the past, she is not a full-time jazz singer or a bebop purist by any means; stylistically, much of the material she has recorded for Verve is closer to Sade, Basia, Norah Jones, Nellie McKay (minus the eccentricity and sharp-tongued humor) or Rickie Lee Jones than it is to hardcore jazz vocalists like Abbey Lincoln, Sheila Jordan and Kitty Margolis. But the jazz influence is almost always present in Civello's pop recordings -- and since her arrival in the United States, she has crossed paths with major jazz musicians like alto saxophonist Phil Woods and guitarist Mike Stern. Listing all of Civello's influences could be time-consuming; Civello gives the impression that along the way, she has listened to everyone from Joni Mitchell, Sade and Sting to Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London and Billie Holiday. Brazilian jazz and pop is also a strong influence on Civello, who is obviously well aware of Brazilian greats such as Astrud Gilberto, Gal Costa, Ivan Lins and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Although Civello grew up in a country where Italian is the primary language, much of her writing has been in English. Civello, in fact, has been singing and writing in at least four languages -- English, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish -- and when she performs in English, Civello sings with only a slight trace of an Italian accent. Her command of the English language is excellent, and her accent is beneficial in that it gives her performances a great deal of character.
Civello was still living in Italy when, at the age of 17, she was hired to perform as a featured vocalist for the Mario Raja Big Bang (as opposed to Mario Raja Big Band). After that, she was employed by Italian jazz drummer Roberto Gatto, who is well-known in Italy and included her in his group the Noisemakers. In 1993, Civello moved to Boston after being awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music -- and by the time she graduated from Berklee in 1998, Civello had received a Boston Jazz Society Award as well as a Cleo Laine Award. In 2000, she left Boston for New York City, where she met veteran producer Russ Titelman, who has worked with a long list of major artists that includes, among others, Paul Simon, Rickie Lee Jones, Randy Newman, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor and Brazilian star Milton Nascimento. Titelman went on to produce a demo for Civello and introduced her to Ron Goldstein, president and CEO of the Verve Music Group, and Goldstein ended up offering her a contract. Titelman also introduced Civello to veteran pop composer Burt Bacharach, with whom she co-wrote the song "Trouble." Late Quarter Moon, Civello's first album for Verve, was given a February 2005 release date in the United States. ~ Alex Henderson