My Story--and I'm stickin' to it...
“I was raised on Roberta Flack, Earth,Wind and Fire and the Police, played Chopin and Schubert on the piano thru college, went to school as a classical composer and have been singing jazz standards since I was 8…my driving inspiration is basically to try to reconcile all of these influences using whatever instruments are available.”
Cathy Elliott Garcia first knew she was destined to be a musician when, at 3, her parents gave her her great-grandmother’s baby grand piano. Cathy, from this age, felt obligated to become a musician to honor them. A few decades later, it would come up in random conversation with her mom that no, the piano hadn't been for Cathy, it had been an anniversary gift to Cathy's father. It was a complete shock to learn that her entire raison d'être was built on a misunderstanding but, by then, the damage had already been done. Cathy had already become a composer, arranger, vocalist and pianist who has lived and worked in New York City, Washington, DC, Ecuador, and later Argentina. She had already performed in Zimbabwe and the International Grahamstown Fine Arts Festival in South Africa. She had even recorded her CD “The Turning Point.” But there was hardly any turning back.
An early interest in the so-called "incidental music" of films and documentaries led Cathy to write and/or direct the music for a number of film shorts and theater productions including New York’s Signature Theater production of Adrienne Kennedy's Funnyhouse of a Negro, performed at the Public Theater. She has had work performed by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra as well as the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Her arranging work has been heard on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and her songs have been featured on WHCR’s Jazz Break at Eight. She was a member of the BMI Jazz Composer's Workshop. In addition, she won a grant from the American Composers Forum to write a piece celebrating the renaissance and history of the U street area of Washington, DC.
While in NYC working on a composition masters, Cathy did arrangements and compositions and just about anything (musical, that is) for anyone who would call. This included a national project by Silver Burdett Ginn (the nice people who made the textbooks we all used in school). She ghost-arranged for a Richard Simmons project (there's a little fun fact). She played keyboards for Chinese pop bands for packed arenas in Atlantic City (totally surreal). She played piano nightly at the Radisson Hotel Quito for the better part of 2012 before moving to Argentina where she played with the Edibertos Quintet. She arranged a number of the songs on a CD by celebrated author and saxophonist, James McBride and also did the arrangements and was the choir director for an NPR-American Public Media pilot called The Corner (unfortunately, it didn't fly). She also worked as a jazz vocalist. This all led to an artist-in-residency in Ecuador's Universidad de San Francisco de Quito and since, she has continued to perform in a wide variety of settings. She has sung in events sponsored by the US Embassy, accompanied dance performances, fashion shows, as well as performed in music festivals. She has shared the stage with a variety of notable musicians including bassist, Steve Novacel, saxophonist Antonio Hart, and guitarist Scott Henderson, trombonist, Calvin Jones and trumpeter Webster Young. She has run a number of choirs, recording with two of them.
Cathy has always been grateful to her teachers, especially Susan Dash, Wendell Logan and Michael Philip Mossman. Because of them, Cathy is very active on the educational scene. In addition to the Silver Burdett Ginn project, she was also a co-creator with pianist, Oscar Perez, of a curriculum funded by a grant from The Mockingbird Foundation for a series of jazz workshops in high schools in Queens entitled The Jazz Project. She has been an adjudicator in the national and local NAACP ACT-SO Competitions. Last but not least, she has been on the faculty of three universities in Ecuador and teaches privately.
Cathy is currently working on the music for her next CD project and who knows what that'll entail! Thanks for your support of her endeavors. It couldn't happen without you. Please join the mailing list and stay tuned!