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Cilla Owens: Teacher and Students Unite for CD

An impressive debut as leader from a well-kept NYC secret

Cilla Owens

Apart from occasional festival appearances, vocalist Cilla Owens’ work has largely been restricted to New York City and its environs. Now, with the release of her first album as a leader, the self-produced and self-released ‘Tis What It Is, the rest of the world finally gets the chance to discover what jazz-savvy New Yorkers have known for years: that Owens is a superbly gifted musician. Her sound, shaded and enriched by her extensive, intersecting experiences within the jazz, soul and spiritual spheres, is as smooth as Nancy Wilson, as authoritative as Sarah Vaughan and as deeply informed as Carmen McRae, yet remains distinctly her own.

A lifetime of preparation has gone into ‘Tis What It Is. Owens’ somewhat circuitous musical path began at Hunter College High School, where she raised her voice in the Christmas chorus, but was more interested in dancing than singing. At Boston University, music (and dancing) took a back seat to language studies, and upon graduation she began a teaching career with the New York Board of Education.

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