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The Exotic World of Roxanna

The Exotic World of Roxanna

My music is romantic adult contemporary pop flamenco,” Roxanna states emphatically when she describes the muses for her debut album, ‘Exotica’. Indeed, it is. The songs are filled with lush orchestrations, sweeping pop sensibilities and simmering sensuality, all with a decidedly Spanish flair. The album is a sonic trip around the world—and a reflection of Roxanna’s world, one of old-school elegance, style and beauty.

Roxanna has had this vision of the world—and her place in it—since she was very young. “I always said it has been in my blood since I was in my mother’s womb,” she says. “Growing up in Iran as a little child, and growing up in Canada, I listened to foreign music such as Julio Iglesias and Olivia Newton-John, Chris de Burgh, Madonna and Michael Jackson, and I always had this dream of being part of that world. I never imagined myself any less than that. I always rehearsed in front of my dolls, in front of my friends, my pets, I’ve practiced it in my mind and in front of them.”

Once given the actual chance to prove her merits and talents, she grabbed the opportunity with gusto. It was that passion that has guided her, especially as an independent artist. Roxanna has handled every aspect of her career from the beginning. Of course, as with any successful person, she has great partners who share her vision. “It started with having great advisors,” she explains of her musical journey so far. “The best advisor I had was my lawyer, and of course working with [producer and songwriter] Mark Portmann who has worked with many artists and many labels and their advice has been so positive. Because of that I’ve learned how to be independent. Being creative and having ideas that I’ve had since I was a little girl helped me out a lot to develop what I want.”

Close Your Eyes is a sweeping ballad that starts with gentle piano and soars on the lifts of a huge orchestra like an eagle on an updraft.

ExoticaWhile it may have looked easy to get to where she is today with the release of ‘Exotica’, the reality of it all has been years of hard work, determination and perseverance. “As an independent artist, I’ve accomplished things that many developed artists haven’t,” Roxanna says. “Including making a music video with Matthew Rolston, having an actor from a soap opera, or having Chris Botti, the best trumpeter, to perform on my album, and all the musicians who perform on my album and in my concert. Money doesn’t buy all these things, you have to have the talent and people have to believe in you.”

Roxanna uses her considerable vocal gifts to tell stories of romance, heartache, healing, passion and sensuality. She debuted her first single, Unforgotten, a year ago. The song garnered acclaim and was just a hint of what was to come. Her followup single, Close Your Eyes, is a sweeping ballad that starts with a gentle piano and soars on the lifts of a huge orchestra like an eagle on an updraft. “Close Your Eyes was originally written by Lindy Robbins and Mark Portmann,” Roxanna says of the song. “The reason I chose to sing that song was I love the lyrics, I connected to the lyrics from my days as a nurse. The line, ‘I’ll be here till the sunrise’, that’s what the nurse’s duty is, to be there until the end, until they need you. It was originally written for Celine Dion and she didn’t want it so I took it.” Celine’s loss was Roxanna’s win as the song has become her first Billboard Top 40 Chart hit.

At the same time she released Close Your Eyes, Roxanna also put out a very sultry, jazzy take on Lionel Richie’s classic, Hello. The simultaneous releases really show off her versatility as a performer; from big, showstopping productions, to intimate, flamenco-tinged crooners. Hello is a duet between Roxanna’s breathy, longing vocals and Chris Botti’s plaintive trumpet. It’s an intoxicating blend. Another standout track is her rendition of the Hollies’ The Air That I Breathe. “I didn’t know who the Hollies were until I listened to the song,” Roxanna admits with a laugh. “I first heard the song when Olivia Newton-John did it, and Julio Iglesias did it, two of my idols, so I combined their versions to mine and did it differently. I wanted to make it smoky jazz. Dan Higgins played the saxophone on the song. This is the most jazzy song on the album.”

While The Air That I Breathe may be the most jazzy tune on the album, the title track, Exotica, may be the most sensual. Opening with flamenco guitar and an undulating percussion, Roxanna breathes the word exotica in your ear. “It makes me feel I’m in paradise,” she says of the mood of the song. “Like I’m in some place that never existed in this world, a place you’ve created in your head. I wrote the lyrics in Spain looking at the Mediterranean Sea,” she continues. “The weather was beautiful, it was almost nighttime. I want people to feel how I felt in that moment when I wrote it. I also want to show who I am. I am Exotica. I said to Mark [Portmann] that I wanted to add lots of strings. I think there are 150 strings in it. You can hear all these strings. I wanted to make it sound Spanish, Middle Eastern, European. I wanted it to sound exotic.”

“It’s the most difficult song for me to sing, but it’s the most beautiful.”

Roxanna and her beloved Maman.

Roxanna and her beloved Maman.

Among all of the romance and sensual strains and flourishes, there are two songs that sit very close inside Roxanna’s heart: Here With Me and Beautiful Rose. Each has a story. Each is incredibly special. “Here With Me is from a book of love poems,” Roxanna explains. “This is my most favourite song on the album. The lyrics were taken from a love poem originally written in Farsi. The book was given to my mother by my father before I was born and she had bookmarked that poem with a rose. I translated it into English and added my own words and Chris Botti loved it and played on it.”

Perhaps the song with the deepest meaning is Beautiful Rose.“I wrote that song eleven days after my mom passed,” Roxanna reveals. “I went to LA and couldn’t finish singing it because I cried a lot. I wanted to have the most grand, the most beautiful orchestra in this song because it is dedicated to her. She always would say to me, ‘Are you ever going to write a song for me?’ I told her that I would. It happened that she passed away before she heard it,” she continues, her eyes filling with tears. “It’s the most difficult song for me to sing, but it’s the most beautiful.”

With the album complete and the latest single soaring up the charts, Roxanna has plans to take her music to her fans in a concert setting. Recently, she and her team created ‘Exotica Live’ and set the show in the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana in Los Angeles. The show featured flamenco dancers, an orchestra, incredible gowns, spectacular lighting and one of her favourite singers, Jon Secada, as her duet partner on a couple of songs. She plans to release ‘Exotica Live’ on DVD and Blu-ray and is in talks to have it aired as a TV special.

Roxanna’s world is one of passion and romance, one she lives and breathes through her music, her style and her sensibilities. Her life has been a journey filled with many changes and transitions, both musically and personally. She went from being a professional nurse to being a professional singer. She is going from independent artist with a dream to burgeoning international star. Her enticing musical invitation is irresistible: “Fall in a trance, slave to my glance. Touch me once and you will never be the same. I am Exotica.”

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Andy2 copy 3Andrew Vails writing career began in Halifax when he was but a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites. Andrew is currently working on the project queer50.com.


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6 Comments

  1. I would like to see this article reprinted in the entertainment section of the Star, and the Globe And Mail!

  2. So meaningful and breathtaking

  3. Beautiful

  4. Great article. Your story is so inspiring. Congrats to you hon.

    Look what I found!!!! Close Your Eyes – Billboard Top 30!!! Wooooo hoooooo. That is awesome. It’s only up from here.

  5. Gorgeous voice and music that makes you melt like chocolate!

  6. bellisima

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