Roberta Gambarini was born in Torino, Italy, into a family where jazz was much loved and appreciated. She began listening to this music as a child and started taking clarinet lessons when she was twelve years old. By the time she was 17, she began singing and performing in jazz clubs around Northern Italy and at the age of 18, she decided to move to Milan to pursue a career as a jazz singer.
Soon after her move to Milan, Roberta took third place in a national jazz radio competition on TV, leading to performance opportunities at jazz festivals throughout Italy. She performed on Jazz broadcasts on Italian radio and TV channels and in 1986 began recording both under her own name and as a guest. In 1997, she worked with French Hammond organ player Emmanuel Bex, touring jazz clubs throughout Italy.
In 1998 she moved to the United States with a scholarship from the New England Conservatory in Boston. Two weeks later, Roberta stunned many in the jazz world with a third place finish in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition.
A dynamic performer with virtuosic vocal chops, she draws rave reviews and enthusiastic fan support wherever she performs. And until her North American debut, Easy to Love (Groovin’ High/Kindred Rhythm), was released on June 6, 2006, she had done so with just word of mouth alone.
On Easy to Love, Roberta showed off her instrumental approach and warm timbre, impeccable timing and intonation, incredible technique and scatting and improvisation skills on a set of 12 excellent jazz standards and classic songs from The Great American Songbook. The album also included two bonus tracks and featured special guest James Moody on a scintillating scat duel.
Easy to Love was nominated for a GRAMMY® in 2007 in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category (along with albums by Karrin Allyson, Nancy King, Diana Krall, and Nancy Wilson). Roberta’s “formidable talent” (DownBeat Magazine) has also garnered her wins as the 2007 Female Jazz Singer of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) and as the 2007 Talent Deserving Wider Recognition from DownBeat Magazine’s Annual Critics Poll.
On February 12, 2008, Roberta made her major label debut with You Are There (Groovin’ High/Emarcy), a collection of 14 hauntingly beautiful melodies, with the legendary pianist, Hank Jones. The music was recorded in one afternoon; Roberta and Hank had no concept for the album- just 25 tunes they liked and thought would be interesting to record. “There were no isolation booths, no headphones, no over dubs,” Gambarini remembers. “The sound would be just what you would hear had you been in someone’s living room playing among friends.” That is the magic of Hank Jones.
Roberta Gambarini has performed with Michael Brecker, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Hank Jones, Christian McBride, and Toots Thielemans, among many others, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Town Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and jazz festivals around the world such as Barbados, London, Monterey, North Sea, Toronto, and Umbria.
Roberta was recently voted Rising Star Female Vocalist of the Year in 2008 DownBeat Critics Poll. Roberta will tour internationally with her band in support of her new album, So In Love, which is scheduled for a Summer 2009 release.