Jazz and pop chanteuse Kinga was born in Poland, then moved with her family to Amsterdam before settling in Ottawa, Ontario. While being baptized at four months of age, she screamed out, and the attending priest predicted that Kinga would become a singer. Her parents gifted Kinga with appreciation for music, including and especially jazz, at an early age: Her father played in a jazz cabaret while her mother constantly played vocal pop and jazz records by The Platters, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and the like.
By age thirteen, Kinga had studied classical piano and voice theory, and began immersing herself classical and contemporary music, both jazz and pop. She soon began performing at recitals and competitions, and helped assemble and lead a jazz quartet (called West Berlin) that played in and around Ottawa until all its members graduated from high school. She also discovered and began learning the repertoires of many great jazz vocalists, including Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, Sarah Vaughan, Natalie Cole, and especially Ella Fitzgerald.
Kinga moved on to Humber College, studying voice and theory under Trish Colter, Lisa Martinelli, and Lisa Sullivan; she also served as instructor for voice, piano, theory, ear training and improvisation to child and adult students. “The most important experiences during my time at Humber College were working alongside very talented and reputable musicians, learning different aspects of the jazz world, and lastly, winning the Duke Ellington Honoree award in my final year there,” Kinga recalls.
Kinga has subsequently spread her vocal talents – as smooth, heady and sophisticated as a well-matured brandy – throughout Canada: She has sung the American and Canadian national anthems for the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs (in partial French, for a sold-out contest against the Montreal Canadians), the Toronto Raptors, and internationally-broadcast Hockey Night in Canada. Kinga has performed with pianist Renee Rosnes, flugelhornist Guido Basso, and Don Thompson’s jazz ensemble, and appeared at the National Jazz Awards, the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s Walk of Fame, and on CTV and CBC Radio.
Guess Who I Saw Today brings all Kinga’s influences and experiences full circle. Knowing that a great singer’s best friend is a great song, her debut release features new interpretations of Ellington’s classic “Mood Indigo” and such familiar tunes as “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “This Bitter Earth.” Its title track was first recorded by Nancy Wilson. Songs by such talented singer-songwriters as Randy Newman (“I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”), Bill Withers (“Ain’t No Sunshine”) and Mose Allison (“What’s With You” and “Swingin’ Machine”) round out the set.
Guess Who I Saw Today was arranged and produced by pianist Bill King. “I could tell during our first practice sessions, the voice fit comfortably around the rich melodies and could deliver a heartfelt interpretation of the lyrics,” producer King recalls.
For Kinga, the most important thing about this debut is her emotional connection to each track. Each song reflects a time or point in her life where she experienced an emotional roller coaster – whether it was love, happiness, heartache, anger or frustration – and these experiences speak to and through each song on Guess Who I Saw Today.