Childhood trips to her mother’s native Colombia first gave Australian singer-songwriterZannah a zest for visceral music.
“My mother, a professional concert pianist, would take her rightful place at the piano while her friends sang and danced to familiar Latin tunes” says Zannah. “There was rich food and plenty of laughter. I didn’t understand what they were saying, but sensed the culture within my blood. I knew I was related to this culture – a culture so different from that of my homeland, Australia.”
Brisbane-raised and based, Zannah inherited a love of performing and developed a curiosity for how diverse cultures emote through sound. A passionate contemporary vocalist, her powerful tone echoes a world of influences. She originally trained in Western classical music, delved into pop, rock and blues, and recently completed a Master of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium, focusing on Flamenco, Celtic, and Persian singing. The inherent history drew Zannah to these styles, saying, “There’s a depth that feels like it links to generations past”.
As a performer and songwriter, Zannah is driven to “evoke emotions laid dormant” in her audiences. Fascinated by the primal desires that unite humankind, she writes highly emotive songs of love and loss that are authentic to her lived experiences. Her music sounds both ancient and modern, a contemporary Lisa Gerrard meets Evanescence, with Tori Amos, Lior and Faroese musician Eivør named as her musical inspiration.
At the beginning of Zannah’s career (under the name Susanna O’Leary) she won an international songwriting competition for her song Always For You. In 2010 and 2011 she was also selected as a finalist in the UK Song Contest for her songs Dame tu pasión and A Summer’s Christmas, selected from over 5,000 entrants worldwide.Since then Zannah has performed in various bands at notable venues and events around Australia.
Her latest album, The Promised Land tackles the contemporary world genre with sophistication and drama. An album without borders, it weaves elements of rock and Middle Eastern music (Twisted and wild), Celtic vocal ornamentation in a piano ballad (Ashes), Spanish Flamenco (No Fue Amor) and ends with epic Gladiator-style vocalise (Exiled). With rave reviews, her music has been described as “experimental, bold and gloriously expansive” and “one of the most untethered statements to come out of Australia in recent memory” (SpeakerTV 2018).
Her Spanish language song No Fue Amor was voted into Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ’s 2018 Hot 100 chart, ahead of well-known artists Bjork and The Presets. Zannah also received a highly commended in the World music category in the prestigious Queensland Music Awards 2020 for her song “Exiled”.
With recent performances with the Brisbane City Pops Orchestra and selected as a finalist and semi finalist in the Children’s music category of the Queensland Music Awards (2021 & 2022) this year promises to be another exciting venture for Zannah.
It shows that Zannah, with her explosive vocal prowess, and her classical and modern influences, continues to create something that is accessible and appealing to both mature and youthful audiences.
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