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Daily Inspiration: Meet Dominique Bianco

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominique Bianco.

Hi Dominique, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for sharing your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I’ve been singing ever since I could remember. My father is one of my biggest inspirations because he sings and plays guitar, and I picked up a lot from him growing up. While I was in kindergarten, I remember asking my mom what the lyrics were to the Star-Spangled Banner because they played it every day at school, and I wanted to sing it at the top of my lungs. Even though I didn’t know the lyrics, I still wanted to sing the melody with passion and expression in front of my entire class, regardless of whether I looked weird. Because my father sings all kinds of music, and growing up, I always heard jazz standards in the car with my parents and grandparents. I’ve always been attracted to jazz music, specifically American Songbook. I was a musical theatre major at Talent Unlimited High School in NYC, and we would sing through American Songbook tunes that I knew already, but at the time, I didn’t know they could be turned into complex vocal jazz arrangements. Leading up to where I am now, when I attended George Mason University, originally as a Music Technology Major, I fell in love with the jazz program. I switched to being a Jazz Studies Major in the second semester of my first year. Throughout the pandemic, I was given more time than usual to hone in on my craft. Indeed, given the space to fall in love with the music of Jazz, Bebop, and standards. Soon after, I went out to DC jam sessions, performances, and other people’s gigs in my junior year, trying to gain experience on and off the bandstand. Since then, I’ve performed at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and many of DMV’s great jazz venues. This historically important music tells lessons about love, loss, and life. The music I try to present not only musically speaks to me on a harmonic and melodic level but expresses a story and leaves you learning a moral lesson or feeling uplifted after the experience. The point of the music I make is to connect with other humans, whether emotionally, rhythmically, physically, spiritually, or morally. We need music like this in our local community and the world rather than music that only benefits us. Today, I am traveling as much as I can in-between gigs in DC/Baltimore to my hometown, NYC, to see if I want to move back there in the future and see if the NYC jazz scene is truly the next step in my career.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I am blessed to have incredibly supportive family and friends that have encouraged me along this journey, but it hasn’t been easy. Sometimes the people closest to you won’t support what you do 100% of the time. I’ve experienced that throughout my journey and I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve had people tell me to stop taking gigs while I saw exponential success. While having awards presented, I was told I needed to know how to handle failure, “you can’t win everything,” and “oh, that’s nice” instead of words of encouragement or congratulations. Many people have chosen to ignore my work and not recognize my success but for me, it’s only the beginning. I’ve also struggled with caring too much about what others think of me and the music I make. Starting at a music school, I didn’t have a problem making friends, musically expressing myself, and getting recognition for hard work, but by the middle of my junior year. I experienced competition, people telling me I was a waste of potential, saying that I’d never go anywhere in my career and that I didn’t practice enough. When I first started developing my scatting, I was constantly thrown into the deep end on tunes I didn’t know and had only been doing it for less than a couple of months. I was put down for trying to scat, I was put down for not scatting at times, regardless of what I did someone had a problem with it. Eventually, I had to follow my own desires, try to find my own love for music, and develop my own artistry. Every day I am always trying to develop new vocabulary and improve my improvisation skills to a new level. Now I’m at a place where I can scat confidently over changes, but there’s always room for improvement. Lastly, I’ve dealt with rejection, failure, and criticism. It’s hard when you’re always trying to prove to others that you know what you’re doing or talking about but sometimes, even if you have the most experience in the room, you need to take a back seat and let other people learn for themselves, I’ve learned to let my music speak for itself. Many of these struggles don’t seem very large or important, but for a developing artist, sometimes it’s crucial to receive positive encouragement from others and mentors. Thankfully, as I said, I have supportive friends and family and a handful of mentors who have shaped the artist I am today, and I’m incredibly thankful for them.

Please tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others.
I sing all genres, but I’d consider myself a jazz vocalist in the DMV area, and I perform American songbook standards, original music, and arrangements of tunes I enjoy. I’m a sucker for a good melody and specialize in American Songbook and the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Carmen McRae, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, and many more. Recently I was in Downbeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards 2022 receiving the award for Undergraduate Outstanding Vocal Jazz Performance 2022. I had been applying for this award since I was a freshman at George Mason University, so it was a huge accomplishment in my senior year, and I was the first person to win this award in over ten years. This award means a lot to me because the judges don’t know who you are or what you look like, so I received this award based on my vocal abilities alone. In addition to receiving this award, on my first attempt, I was a finalist in the International Ella Fitzgerald Competition 2022. I was mentioned in Jazz Times Magazine as a third-place finalist. My determination, musical personality, creativity, personability, drive, and ability to adapt and grow set me apart from others.

What’s next?
I’m currently releasing my upcoming EP “I’m All Smiles” November 13th 2022 at 8PM on my 22nd Birthday. I’m hosting an “EP Celebration” on Friday, November 18th, 2022 at the historic Blues Alley Jazz Club in DC featuring Verve Recording Artist Julius Rodriguez. This performance includes other musicians Tommy Holladay, Knox Barber, and Eliza Salem. After that I’ll be appearing at Keystone Korner in Baltimore, featuring Benny Benack III on Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 which will include Elijah Jamal Balbed, Tommy Holladay, Knox Barber, and Brenden Brady. Lastly, I plan to keep performing, gigging, making musical content for people off and online, creating, growing, and showing love to other kind professionals.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Mark Caicedo ParkLifeDC Joyce Boghosian Photography Nick Moreland Photography Dominique Bianco Photography

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