She is The Artist Formerly Known As Ona Kirei, and her creative journey continues to hit high-water marks.
Singer/songwriter Ona K is our guest on today’s Arts Alive! podcast. From Barcelona, Spain, she arrived in the Tampa Bay area in 2018 and immediately became somebody to watch on the jazz scene.
Her performances with the trio La Lucha, and as half of Orilla, a spinoff project with the band’s bassist Alejandro Arenas, gave notice that this woman who speaks (and sings) in Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Portuguese and English, was unique.
She does not, she explains, think of herself as a jazz singer. “I am a musician first and foremost. I don’t like to be limited by a label. I love singing jazz, I love improvisation … I just think there’s a lot more to music than only jazz. At least for me.”
In Europe, she explains, the definition of jazz is much different than in the United States.
On her first album, last year’s Mirage, Ona K created sonic dreamscapes, overdubbing her voice into duets, quartets and even a choir, with music that weaved, in unexpected ways, in and out of the honeycomb of jazz and pop.
Orilla’s brilliantly eclectic Daring Flowers followed.
She’ll perform Thursday, June 29 at thestudio@620, debuting not only her new, cooly-abbreviated name but a new musical direction. There’s a small, jazz-based rhythm section … and a string quartet. She’s calling it soul music.
“I struggle a lot putting labels on my music,” she says. “I chose ‘soul’ because it’s closer to what I’m doing now. Just because I want more space to tell a story. In every song, with the music and the lyrics together.”
Click on the arrow below to listen to the interview.