Singer and recording artist Sofia Laiti was born in Lapland, the unique society in the northernmost arctic area in Finland, Laiti retains traces of her distinctive heritage. Since early childhood, she had a strong desire to use her voice to entertain. "My mother and father told me I was singing as soon as I could talk. I remember always singing in my home.
As a teenager, Sofia studied classical music in the Music Conservatory at Kuopio, in the east of Finland, paying close attention to great classical vocalists. Here, she developed a solid musical foundation upon which to build her career.
With this solid foundation, Laiti proceeded to jazz singing, and moved to Helsinki, the sophisticated capital of Finland. Throughout the 1980s she made a significant impact there winning major prizes and grants and making triumphant appearances at top clubs and festivals such as Pori Jazz International.
In 1991 " reversing the trend of Scandinavian-bound jazzmen like Dexter Gordon " Sofia moved to New York aided by a grant from the State Music Council of Finland. She has since led ensembles at such venues as Birdland The Village Gate Visiones The Squire The West End Caf" and the Cornelia Street Caf" as well as at Trumpets in New Jersey Blues Alley in Washington D.C.
Her debut album "Manhattan Memories' was recorded in New York in 1989 for Finnish Columbia Records. Saxophonist Scott Robinson pianist Larry Ham bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Klaus Suonsaari join her in a program divided between compositions by Kivikataja and standards on which Sofia puts her inimitable stamp.
In 1994 she released her U.S.deput recording "Inspira" on the Midnight Sun Music label. Backed by John Hicks on piano Craig Handy on tenor sax Essiet Essiet on bass and Cecil Brooks III on drums her vocalism was praised as "powerful" by Cadence and "charismatic" by Jazziz.
Sofia's 1996 album 'the Midnight Sun Will Never Set" produced by Houston Person featured Person on sax James Weidman on piano Essiet Essiet on bass and Mark Johnson on drums. Praising the "deep lilt of her voice" and her "dark exotic sound" Cadence declared: 'sofia Laiti is maturing into a classic jazzpop chanteuse."
Now married with a young daughter Sofia is comfortably New York centric. Asked what took so long between recordings (The Midnight Sun Will Never Set 1996 and You Don't Know Me 2004) saying: Sometimes it's good to be quiet. Even when I wasn't performing I was singing and playing piano at home. I knew I would come back when the timing was right." The call came and she's back in the game.
While critics cite the 'smokiness' "lushness" and sultry glow" of her voice and the 'smoothness' and "elasticity" of her phrasing. Sofia herself has best captured the secret of her appeal: "I naturally use my whole heart and soul when I sing. I think an audience loves to hear it " the communication of feeling through song."
~ by Evan Eisenberg