Sofia Rei is a singer as well as a multi-instrumentalist who was born and also raised in Buenos Aires. She grew up hearing the albums of Mercedes Sosa owned by mother but was never interested in performing that kind of music.
She made her Berkeley début at La Peña together with colleagues from New York – Colombian percussionist Tupac Mantilla and Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder.
Sofia Rei’s initial love for jazz and vocal improvisation
She was interested in jazz and vocal improvisation. She was a bit displeased when asked to sing an Argentine song. She wanted to be a jazz singer. She previously recorded and performed under Sofia Rei Koutsovitis, her full name.
After getting over that indignation, she collaborated with a classmate and created a program full of Latin American songs. Her experience in performing Spanish was her epiphany.
Rei mentions that she was always singing in Italian, Portuguese and English for many years. However, she expresses that there is something about singing in her language that comes naturally. She is able to connect with an era of music and then it just makes sense.
A mix of jazz, homeland sounds and musical currents
To her surprise, she made a mark through the combination of jazz, sounds from her homeland and a range of musical currents influenced from South America. With her full voice, a great command of the Latin American rhythms, and vast knowledge of folk forms from Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay, she has become the change in the scene of musicians wanting to blend jazz with South American tunes.
Although Buenos Aires is a modern capital with many musicians from all over South America, New York City provides a different melting pot. Her immigration experience increased her awareness of her South American culture and roots. It also allowed her walls to be broken down for rival nationalities. New York creates that unique Latin American identity which Rei thrives in.
For anyone who wants to check Rei out, she will perform in Berkeley again on the 19th. Hopefully, she Tours South America so the Latin Americans can see how far she’s come.