Entertainer r'kardo stVon for Jazz event
Several top local musicians and singers will accompany New York-based, Trinidadian jazz fusion singer/ songwriter r'kardo st Von (Ricardo Stevon Mendoza) as he performs at Woodford Cafe in MovieTowne, Port of Spain on June 24.
His set will include an eclectic mix of standards, cover and original material from his 2012 recording project, all backed by a live band which features Dean Williams on guitar, Kevon La Fleur on bass, Modupe Folasade Onilu on percussion and special guest performers jazz chanteuse, Vaughnette Bigford, pannist Mikhail Salcedo, violinist Janine Xavier and singers Charli and Kelli Griffith of 2ntrigue. The show promises to be a fantastic experience.
A singer/songwriter by trade, r'kardo st Von grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where his passion for music and performance was developed by an eclectic exposure to different genres from the early age of eight. He studied guitar, recorder and voice under the tutelage of music teachers, Barbara Harris and Myrtle Cumberbatch, former Lydians choir director Alma Pierre, acclaimed musicologist, Geraldine Connor and Stella Award-winning songwriter, Sterling Gittens.
A talented calypsonian as well, Mendoza's witty and lyrical compositions captured the Republic Bank Calypso King Title on three occasions and he was also a finalist in Trinidad's 1996 National Young Kings competition. Together with vocalist Shereen Mc Donald, r'kardo captured the hearts of Trinidad in the semi-finals of Scouting for Talent in 1997 performing a unique duet version of Stevie Wonder's "Ngicuelela, I Am Singing", then in the 1998 finals performing what has now become his signature rendition of Elton John's "Your Song".
This progression culminated with him earning a BA in Theatre Arts from New York's Marymount Manhattan College, jazz performance and musical theatre training from New York's Musical Theatre Works Tony-nominated director Lonny Price, and work with original Rent alumni, actress/singer Fredi Walker-Browne.
His theatrical credits include 'Rolf' in Rodgers& Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music", 'multiple characters' in William F Hoffman's As Is (with The Baggasse Co), 'the Narrator' in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, off Broadway credit in New York for the Interborough Repertory Theatre touring Company of The Roots of Rap multiple characters in Rent alumni Fredi Walker-Browne's KING LIVES! and the NETworks touring Company of Rent; acting credits for several television commercials and jingles shot in his native Trinidad.
r'kardo has performed at New York's own Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Cami Hall, LIU's Kumble Theatre, funk poetry spot The Chocolate Monkey, The Village Underground, Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar, and the infamous Brooklyn Moon Café with his jazz fusion band "the rhapsodie collective". In Trinidad, he staged his own showcases at the 51 Degrees Nightclub & La Casa de Ibiza, and headlined July 2009 Sidaico Promotions "Jazz in July" at Queen's Hall with soul diva Cheryl 'Pepsi' Riley, and March 2010 at Production One's annual Jazz Artistes on the Greens at the UWI campus, St Augustine.
In November 2010, he co-produced and performed in the very well-received "Tambran Seed Sessions 2010", a jazz/pop/ Caribbean music semi-improv collaboration at LIU's Kumble Theatre. July 2011 he produced and performed in The Lady and the Tramp with fellow Trinidadian, jazz chanteuse Vaughnette Bigford at ART South Oxford Space in Brooklyn, and in September self-produced and performed in Mood Indigo — The magic of Nina Simone a dance/ live vocal/ improv collaborative homage to Nina Simone featuring a stellar cast that included Karen Bernod, Fredi Walker-Browne, Trini's own Krisha Marcano and choregrapher/ singer Francesca Harper.
r'kardo admires greatly, and is constantly inspired by the work of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Rachelle Ferrell, Will Downing, Lauryn Hill and calypsonians Lord Kitchener and David Michael Rudder.
For tickets and more information, log on to the Woodford Cafe page, join the group on Facebook and/or call 627-2233.