Sarah began her career in her hometown of Springfield, MA, studying and playing throughout the New England area. Throughout her elementary and high school years, Sarah drew knowledge and inspiration from acclaimed musicians at The Community Music School of Springfield and from workshops which have included Dr. Billy Taylor’s Jazz in July program at UMASS, Amherst and The Vermont Jazz Center’s Summer Workshop. She describes her early musical experiences as having “…rooted [her] into a grounded artistic space that would serve to inform the remainder of her musical development in the most healthy, curious, creative, and responsible way [she] could have ever imagined”.
Subsequent to these earlier experiences, Sarah moved to New York City where she attended and graduated with a BFA from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and a BA from Eugene Lang College. Since beginning her journey as a jazz musician, she has had the pleasure of studying and working with musicians such as Jimmy Owens, Geri Allen, Dr. Billy Taylor, Sheila Jordan, Cecil Bridgewater, Reggie Workman, George Cables, Junior Mance, Richard Harper, Janet Lawson, and Carmen Lundy. All of these individuals in addition to numerous other masters have significantly enhanced Sarah’s growth and influenced the path that she is currently following.
An accomplished singer, composer and actress, Melvis Santa has dedicated her young life to the pursuit of her musical dreams. At the age of 14, while enrolled in Havana’s Amadeo Roldan Music Conservatory, Melvis and three classmates formed an all-girl acapella group called Sexto Sentido, a project that Cuban jazz great, Chucho Valdés, would dub “the best Cuban vocal quartet of the past 30 years”. The group also earned a prestigious JoJazz award in 2001 as winner of the annual CubanYouthJazz Competition.
After 12 years of performing with Sexto Sentido, Melvis Santa spread wings with the formation of Santa Habana, a solo project which saw her younger sister, Brenda Navarrete, ushered into the fold, along with future HabanAché pianist Leonardo Gil. In 2012, Santa Habana released its first self-titled CD and continues to perform in and around Havana.
Melvis is also a frequent performer with Interactivo, a Cubanseminalfusiongroup that she has toured with, on and off the island, for several years. She has also managed to find time to pursue her secondary artistic dream of becoming an actress, securing roles in theItalianfilm,Maria, and in the Spanish/Cuban collaboration, 7diasenLaHabana.