Sanni Orasmaasinger/ composer/ lyricist
Sanni Orasmaa (b. 1972) is a native of Helsinki, Finland, currently commuting between Helsinki and the New York City. She is an active singer with a strong Scandinavian influence as well as a composer and an educator. You can catch her unique northern sound in various downtown clubs and restaurants, Sanni has appeared at venues such as the Knitting Factory and the Rainbow Room, Sweet Basil, Blue Note and the Cornelia Street Cafe. She has been featured monthly at the Smoke Jazz Club and shares often Monday nights at the Bar Next Door with guitarist Ben Monder. Sanni Orasmaa has worked in independent film, radio and live with various collaborators, her recent projects include performances with Charlie Hunter - Bobby Previte Duo and Kirk Nurock's "Cross-Species" Ensemble, Swiss composer George Gruntz’s jazz opera “Magic of a Flute” and “Mayim Mayim”, a production of the Stadttheater Fürth in Nürnberg, Germany.
Sanni joined her first vocal group at the age of five and started the piano lessons at the age of six. Her great uncle who collected and composed traditional Finnish folk music inspired her and gave her material to work with. Sanni Orasmaa had her first appearance as a singer at the age of five in the national TV broadcast in Finland.
Sanni began her professional career performing at the local venues as a soloist of dance bands and choirs. She made her first international solo appearance at the age of seventeen at a jazz festival in Lithuania. Orasmaa attended the Pop/Jazz Conservatory of Helsinki as a voice major and moved to Austria in 1996 to continue her studies in the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. Her professors there were legendary New York based vocalists Mark Murphy, Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan, who became her mentor. Sanni graduated from the Jazz Department with Master’s Degree in June 2000.
Already during her studies Sanni Orasmaa was performing in clubs and festivals around the world. She traveled as a soloist as well as with her trio Saaga who performed mostly her original material. While still in Austria, Sanni won the Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead – an international competition for young artists who are dual musicians and composers – and was invited to join a workshop and three performances at the Kennedy-Center in Washington, D.C. in April 2000. She was also featured in NPR’s Jazz Set program, then hosted by Branford Marsalis.
Sanni was invited to teach at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and has been a member of the school's jazz faculty since 2001. She is a recipient of the American Scandinavian Society's Artist Grant 2005 as well as the Arts Council of Finland Artist Grant 2006. Sanni Orasmaa has been profiled by PRI’s Jazz Smithsonian in the documentary series "The Jazz Singers", hosted by Al Jarreau. She currently holds the position of the Head Vocal Teacher at the Helsinki Pop/Jazz Conservatory and serves as a Lecturer at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich, Germany.
Orasmaa is an active musician and the Finnish and Nordic influences can be heard and seen in her singing, compositions and teaching. Recently she has been performing a lot in Finland and U.S. and released a new album with her SloMotive Trio, a band formed in 2008. SloMotive, that consists of Orasmaa, percussionist Abdissa Assefa and keyboardist Kari Ikonen, did also a Finnish Jazz Federation's tour in fall 2012. Orasmaa has, besides singing her own material, worked actively with film-, musical- and radioproductions around Europe and United States.