Venissa Santí

2008 Pew Fellow

Venissa Santí, 2008 Pew Fellow. Directed by Glenn Holsten.

“The Cuban music, it really just talks to my soul, my roots. And so I start to combine jazz and Cuban rhythms and my own experience. I start to get something that’s an expression, an immediate expression of me. And then, as an artist, it’s really my impulse to share that with the world.”

Venissa Santí (b. 1978) inherited her musical passion from her grandfather, a composer in Cuba. Santí moved to Philadelphia when she was 17 and attended The University of the Arts. She became a trained vocalist with classical- and jazz-based technique, all the while seeking to find her own voice. Santí began an intense listening regimen of early Celia Cruz, which inspired her to travel to Cuba and find a master to train her. At the same time she began teaching at the Asociacion de Musicos Latino Americanos, a community music school in North Philadelphia. Santí has become an active participant in the Latin community and the Latin music scene of Philadelphia as a soloist in many world and jazz groups’ concerts and recordings.

Santí has done multiple one-month research trips to Havana and Matanzas, Cuba. Working with master singers she immersed herself in African Yoruba religious music and Rumba. From 2002, Santí studied with master singer Jorge Salazar in Havana, Cuba. She mentored with Orlando Fiol, pianist, from 2002–06. Her first solo recording, Bienvenida (unreleased), is a bilingual album of jazz and Cuban standards and Afro-Cuban folkloric songs, written and arranged by Santí.


Grants & Grantees

Pew Fellow Lori Waselchuk’s photographs of post-Katrina New Orleans and the hospice at Angola Prison in Louisiana bring us into intimate contact with complex subjects.

Grants & Grantees

Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre creates performance with a focus on devised work that often includes forays into pop culture, political satire, and the human condition.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Billy Dufala is the co-founder of RAIR and a Philadelphia-based artist engaged in a variety of creative disciplines, including sculpture, performance, digital media, and drawing.

Grants & Grantees

Among the largest art museums in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a pilgrimage site for modern and contemporary art professionals.

Grants & Grantees

As a presenting arts organization, the Painted Bride offers a wide range of work in music, dance, spoken word, and theater.

Historical musicologist David Gutkin explores various forms of musical notation and the variable re-performances they can encourage.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, CAConrad wins the Believer Poetry Award, Geoff Sobelle’s play The Object Lesson heads to Australia, and Opera Philadelphia presents Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain.

Albright’s work in film spans documentary, installation, poetic animation, and short- and long-form narrative. One of his works-in-progress is Ceramic Flowers, a modern mash-up of The Odyssey and Ulysses, set in Las Vegas.

Grants & Grantees

Lamont B. Steptoe is a poet and a 2006 Pew Fellow.

Anthracite Fields, a new, hybrid choral work by composer Julia Wolfe, commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, has received widespread media attention leading up to its world premiere performances.

A concert series celebrated the music and life of the Philadelphia jazz trumpeter and composer Clifford Brown.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Jazz pianist and Blue Note recording artist Jason Moran serves as Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz.