ABOUT THE ARTIST
It is always a joy to witness a new musical talent. Kristina Koller has become part of the New York City jazz scene in recent years, developing quickly into a highly individual jazz singer. Her sound is both timeless and contemporary. While she loves singing standards and straight ahead jazz, Kristina also enjoys arranging tunes in unusual ways, knowing that adding to the legacy of jazz is much more important than merely recreating the performances of others. She reinvents classic material while retaining their essence, putting her own winning personality and fresh ideas into the lyrics that she interprets.
Born and raised in Westchester County, NY (slightly north of Manhattan), Kristina was exposed to a diverse array of live music and dance from a very early age. While quite young, she attended live ballet, Broadway shows, opera, summer jazz festivals and rock concerts. Her dad and older brother were hobby guitarists and her brother held regular jam sessions with his friends in the basement of their home. Her parents encouraged Kristina to pursue artistic avenues and the music was always switched ON in the Koller household. Kristina performed as a dancer from the age of three. Starting when she was eight and continuing through her teenage years, she acted regularly in musical theatre, starting with 'Guys & Dolls' and appearing in over 40 shows, many in lead roles. One of Kristina’s signature roles was Fantine in ‘Les Miserables’. The experience of being in youth-oriented musical plays proved to be a very good grounding for her solo singing career.
While in high school, Kristina became very interested in improving her singing and learning about different voice techniques. She studied classical music and opera, appearing in the ensemble of the Taconic Opera’s production of 'Tosca'. She also sang in choirs and a capella groups. However the desire to perform new music and follow her own path led to her exploring other areas of music. During that era, Kristina sang with a rock band and performed solo as a singer-songwriter at local open mics. On one occasion, Chris Bro, a disc jockey for radio station 107.1 The Peak, was very impressed by her expressive voice and original style. After the show, he told Kristina that if she recorded Coldplay’s “Yellow,” he would play it on the air. The recording was so successful that it was voted “Best New Song of the Week” and later “Best New Song of the Month” on Chris Bro’s Next Show radio program.
Searching for the best genre in which to express herself, Kristina Koller immersed herself in jazz, particularly the singing of Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker, while being inspired by Amy Winehouse’s versatility and open-minded approach to music. Kristina picked up important experience singing standards regularly in Westchester County with the Swing Four, a group of young and talented local jazz musicians. She also sang with her high school big band. By the time she was a senior, Kristina was dedicated to becoming a jazz singer. At 18, she made her New York City jazz debut at a rather impressive venue, the Apollo Theatre, appearing at an amateur night. Her performance of "Cry Me a River was a big success and launched her career.
Kristina received a music scholarship and attended the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. After two years, she returned home to be closer to the New York jazz scene and is now completing her BFA in Jazz Studies at the City College of New York. She has learned important lessons from such major jazz singers as Suzanne Pittson, Shawnn Monteiro, Carolyn Leonhart, Marianne Solivan and Charenee Wade. The highly appealing singer has performed at many New York City clubs including Smoke, Mezzrow, Jules Bistro, BFlat, Cafe Noctambulo and Rockwood Music Hall.