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The artist was born Kenia Acioly into a family of Italian origins in the city of Nova Iguaçu, a distant working class suburb of Rio de Janeiro. When she was six, Kenia’s family moved to Copacabana. Later, she lived in Niterói, Rio’s sister city across Guanabara Bay, and Leblon, one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods. Each stop along the way provided opportunities to explore the local cultural peculiarities that go into making Rio and its neighboring environs one of the world’s most exotic locales.

An interest in music came early; she studied piano and learned to play the guitar by ear. Singing however, became her path to success in music world. Influenced by such Brazilian greats as the late Elis Regina, she also began listening to such North American artists as Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRea and George Benson. And her choice of music to interpret came not from the bossa nova of the 1960s but from the talents of the generation of composers that followed and put the Brazilian sound on the world map once again.

Arriving in the U.S. in 1980, Kenia quickly established herself as the new Brazilian singer on the scene and recorded her debut in the States with trumpeter Claudio Roditi on his album Red on Red. Several years later, she launched her solo recording career, producing four popular and critically-acclaimed albums for the MCA and Denon labels between 1987 and 1991. She also established herself as one of the most popular and successful U.S. based Brazilian musicians since the heyday of Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66. In 1997, Kenia launched her own label, Mooka Records, with a particularly ambitious effort; Project Ivan Lins, a tribute to the one of Brazil’s most prolific and popular contemporary songwriters, featuring Lins himself as a special guest.

I know a good singer by the choice of material and approach and performance. Kenia has a tone and that quality of touching people longer and deeper with her voice.

~ Flora Purim


“Kenia Celebrates Dorival Caymmi” – 2010

“Simply Kenia” – 2007

“Project: Ivan Lins” – Mooka Records – 1997

“Love Lives On” – Denon Records – 1991

“What You’re Looking For” – Denon Records – 1990

“Distant Horizon” – MCA Records – 1988

“Initial Thrill” – MCA Records – 1987

Special Guest Appearances

Claudio Roditi – “Red on Red”

Joe Negri – “Children’s Project”

MCG Jazz – “New Home” (various artists Compilation CD)

James taylor – “That’s Why I’m Here”

Donald Harrison – “The Devil’s Toothpick” (Original Soundtrack)

Justo Almario – “To The Max”

Salsamba – “The Traveler”

Jazz Festivals / Showcases

“York Jazz Festival” – York, PA

“Mellon Jazz Festival” – Harrisburg, PA

“Cape May Jazz Festival” – Cape May, NJ

“Three Rivers Arts Festival” – Pittsburgh, PA (with Orchesta Tropical)

“Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival” – Rehoboth, DE

“Music at Gretna” – Mount Gretna, PA

“Berks Jazz Festival” – Reading, PA

“Mellon Jazz Festival” – Pittsburgh, PA

“Syracuse Jazz Festival” – Syracuse, NY

“Warsaw Jazz Festival” – Warsaw, Poland

“Animal Crackers Jazz Festival” – Madison, WI

Broadcast Appearances

“The Edge” – WRUP – Pittsburgh, PA

“The Morning Show” – KDKA TV – Pittsburgh, PA

“Live from Studio A” – WQED TV – Pittsburgh, PA

“On Q” – WQED TV – Pittsburgh, PA

“Bruce Krane Show” – PCTV TV – Pittsburgh, PA

“Pimienta” – Maria Conchita Alonso, Mexico City (Broadcast to 18 Spanish-speaking countries)

“Warsaaw Jazz Festival” – Channel 1 – Poland

“Sem Censura” – TVE – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“Gente do Rio” – TVRIO – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“Brazil / New York” – WNYC – New York, NY