Some Extraordinary stories in Music can begin in the most ordinary of places.
Charisa the ViolinDiva began her musical journey in a small public school program at the tender age of four, and so began a lifelong love-affair with music. Born and raised in Maryland, all of her earliest musical influences - from traditional gospel to Washington DC’s gogo; and from swinging jazz to the music of a classical symphony, intermix in her music today to create an innovative, jazz-infused take on contemporary soul.
A progressive jazz artist and in-demand innovator, Charisa has collaborated with some dynamic artists across the musical borders, including Wynton Marsalis, Savion Glover, Quincy Jones, Kim Burrell, Common, Diana Krall, Musiq Soulchild and William McDowell, to name a few. As an opening act, she has set the stage ahead of Melissa Morgan and Freddie Jackson. And in the summer of 2011, Charisa won grand prizes in both the McDonald’s Gospelfest Competition in Newark and the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival Competition in Philadelphia, as well as winning a semi-finalist place in the Apollo Competition in front of an audience of 10,000. Her other festival performances include the Baltimore African American Heritage Festival (Baltimore), the Lincoln Park Music Festival (Newark, NJ), JVC Jazz Festival, (NYC, NY), Soul of Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY), and the Fall for Dance Festival in collaboration with the Ailey Dance Company (NYC, NY), and many more cultural organizations around the world. She and her music director/drummer husband James "Biscuit" Rouse [of the Ms. Lauryn Hill band, and Kindred and the Family Soul], are both regular fixtures at New York City clubs and festivals.
Stepping beyond the performance stage also as a teaching artist, Charisa regularly nurtures and celebrates the next generation of young urban string players. After receiving her Master’s Degree cum laude in 2007, she began teaching two regular violin classes in the Bronx and Harlem which she maintains today, showing 200 NYC children of color the bridge between a classical violin foundation and hip hop/jazz. This lead to the development of her new Urban Strings Curriculum, from which she regularly teaches workshops and seminars, and for which a series of method books are currently in development.
After much anticipation, Charisa’s first solo project the Prelude EP (a sign of greater things to come) was released in November 2012, to a packed NYC audience and including guest appearances by soul star Chris Rob, and a heartfelt intro by Grammy Award-winning Songwriter Valerie Simpson of the legendary duo Ashford and Simpson. Leading with the smooth neo-soul single "Soul Journey", and pulsing covers of the classic Stylistics anthem "People Make the World go Round" and the Coltrane standard "Afro Blue", Charisa cements her place in the world of contemporary jazz. 2013 will see the release of a gospel project in the spring, and a Christmas project co-released with her husband in winter 2013 – all with the soul stirring vocals, sweeping strings, and grooving hiphop soul that has become the defining sound of theViolin Diva. In a career that only continues to propel forward, the Prelude EP seminal benchmark in her journey to the next chapter in soul . . . Welcome to the Evolution.
[Charisa the ViolinDiva is available for all events, session work, group and feature performances, musician contracting, commercial work, arranging, songwriting, loops, beats, and touring in all genres - specializing in soul, jazz, hiphop, gospel, and R&B. Please contact her team for bookings through the link below.]