Imagine, if you will, the splendor of majestic, sumptuous quarters within a Spanish villa, adorned with plush velvet couches and rich wine-colored tapestries. Now look out the window at the vista: a regal castle in the distance, green mountains on one side, and the calming ripple of the Mediterranean Sea to the other.
This is the visual equivalent of the sonic signature Roxanna intends to share with the masses. Among the Canadian singer/songwriter’s first recordings from upcoming debut album “Exotica” is “Only You,” which serves as a case in point: It was originally recorded as “Como Tú” by her elegant idol, Julio Iglesias, which she adapted into English.
“Julio… the most sensual, luxurious, vulnerable sound in the world,” Roxanna purrs, when discussing her muse. “I want to be the female version, bringing back romance to contemporary music. I believe the world is hungry to hear songs about love. Enough about bad romance and hate and war. Music should be easy on the ear.”
She certainly brings a world of experience to her passion—literally. Roxanna was born in Iran in the midst of an ongoing war with Iraq. As a child, she turned to music for balance and calm, and would phonetically mimic the English-language songs of Olivia Newton-John, performing for friends and family as if she were the famed singer, despite the fact that her hair was as dark as ONJ’s is blonde.
By age 11, her family immigrated to Istanbul, Turkey, where Roxanna gained the freedom to dress as she chose and indulge in Western music, including Madonna and Michael Jackson. By the late 1980s, her family settled in Toronto, Canada, which she still considers home. She enrolled at Winston Churchill Collegiate, mastered the English language, focused on music classes and sang in a choir. “It opened my heart so much more. I was able to catch up with the Western world,” she says. “I felt closer to my dream.”
A decade later, in 1999, Roxanna was sideswiped when her fiancé left her standing at the alter six days before their wedding. It was a defining moment: “There was my gown staring at me. I couldn’t walk past a flower shop. I was embarrassed and heartbroken.” For refuge, she flew to her father, then based in Los Angeles. There, she penned her first song, “Unforgotten,” a devotional to sadness, threaded with hope for tomorrow. “That song was my therapy,” she notes. “It just poured out of me, and helped me believe all of this happened for a reason.”
Advocating the expression, “Physician heal thyself,” Roxanna then studied nursing in L.A., and earned a degree from Seneca College in Toronto, where she became a RN. “I loved helping people heal their bodies as I healed my heart,” she says. “I would use my hands, but also sing to my patients to help them sleep. Music, like medicine, is a great healer. As rewarding as it was, I continued to believe there was something more… something else.”
In addition to modeling, Roxanna performed wherever and whenever she could—and when people had asked why she wasn’t pursuing entertainment professionally, she had always mentioned the time was not right.
Roxanna contacted West Coast-based producer Mark Portmann (Julio Iglesias, Barbra Streisand, Annie Lennox, James Ingram, Luther Vandross, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera) and sang Aguilera’s “Lift Me Up.” In a moment, their bond was sealed.
Today, with Portmann serving as producer for her debut album “Exotica”—due in first-quarter 2013—Roxanna is ready for the world. Add the pedigree of vocal coach Ron Anderson (Neil Diamond, Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Seal) and two-time Grammy winner Bernie Grundman, who is mastering the project. The first single is “Unforgotten,” the song she wrote amid the heartbreak of her would-be marriage. In September, she shot a music video with music video producer/director, Matthew Rolston, whose photography and videography credits include Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Jewel and George Michael. Playing her paramour in the video is “Days Of Our Lives” actor James Scott.
Roxanna notes, “That show is my comfort food. It calms me down. And, come on, James is the hottest guy alive.” She actually visited the show’s studio to request his presence… followed by emails and calls. “I’m sure he thought I was a fan stalking him.” With three days to go before the shoot, at last, Scott responded with a thumbs-up. She adds, “We spent 18 hours in the desert for the video. It’s sultry and hot.”
“Unforgotten” hit YouTube and iTunes in October, likely followed by second single “Close Your Eyes” written by Lindy Robbins & Mark Portmann (Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys, Nick Lachey). The album also contains a second Julio Iglesias cover, “El Amor,” sung in Spanish. “Exotica’s” remaining tracks are collaborations between Roxanna and other noted songwriters, Edgar Cortazar & Mark Portmann. The overall template: pop, with the grandeur of string orchestration, flamenco singers and Spanish and European influences. Roxanna’s music is organic and her music is woven together with non-synthetic sounds. Roxanna has taken the independent artist route by starting her own label, Roxart, Inc
Roxanna hopes it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between she and the world at large: “Music should bring pleasure, it should be elegant and relaxing. I want people to fall in love and make babies as they listen to my songs. It’s all about friendship, pleasure, romance, love and beauty.”
Tune in to Roxanna's Interview on "The Sasha Marina Show Radio" Thursday, March 20th at 1pm EST / 10am PST!
Interview w/ Canadian Singer/ Songwriter Roxanna (@RoxannaMusic)