Inaia’s complex, laid back persona takes you to many parts of the world. Her interest in the entertainment arena began as a dancer and evolved into singing through pure coincidence, or so she thought. Inaia talks about how growing up with a father who was a Vietnam Veteran affected how she would see and handle life as she knew it. She is an out bi-sexual woman but would rather be called lesbian when she is exercising the bisexual side of her complexities. She doesn’t believe in double dipping, when she is doing women she’s doing women, when she is doing a man she doing a man.
We had the opportunity to talk with Inaia just before she jetted off to India to do her tour, she talked to us about being born in Puerto Rico and her culturally diverse background which she admits influences the music she performs. Surprisingly Inaia had an assorted array of American musical influences, anyone from Sarah Vaughan, to Karen Carpenter, to Jill Scott and Erica Badu. Meet Inaia, Jazz/Pop International Icon who is using the quiet storm approach to claim her position in the music business which she describes as being uniquely hers.
Lesbian Life: So that we can better understand your style of music tell us about the process you went through in order to have such a vast background, culturally and musically?
I was born in Puerto Rico then I moved to Boston with my parents and I learned English very young but, I learned the complete Boston accent. A year later we actually moved to Burbank, CA and I basically re-learned English. My fear was trying to pick up the different accents because as soon as we moved to Boston, I spoke English fluently but with thick accent. When I got to California, the English was completely different, and I learned it there (English), so to this day where ever I go, I sort of pick up the accent and imitate it unconsciously (laughing), because of my early conditioning.
Inaia, a lot of the artists that we interview grew up listening to their parents as musicians, is that the case with you?
No. Many of my friends and the people who I work with or have known have musician parents they always grew up around the music. It’s like the difference between being a native speaker and someone who learns the language later in life.
Your early travels to Europe shaped your sense for music, language and culture. I read that you speak Spanish, English and Italian fluently and also know a little French, Japanese and Portuguese as well?
Portuguese, I just sing…I don’t actually speak any Portuguese, the other ones at one time I’ve been fluent in them. I pretty much haven’t practiced anything but Spanish and English lately; I still speak Italian and French.
Is it easier to learn a multitude of different languages once you master one language outside of your culture?
Absolutely, especially when it’s Spanish and English (your primary language) because most languages are related to Spanish and English.
Your bio stated you began your professional career as a singer on the ship 'Scandinavian Song'. How were you able to get that gig?
I was on vacation from college; I was going to college in Baltimore MD. I went home for Christmas - at the time I was a dance major so all my dancer friends were dancing in this show that was on that ship and, the singer was leaving and they needed a new singer. They knew that I sang so I audition for it, and got it! That was very short lived though because I was 19 and I wanted to party with everybody so I got laryngitis and got fired a month later.
Wow, that sounds like it was supposed to happen that way, do you believe in the Divine Spirit and purpose…everything happens for a reason?
I do, I do, and it was also a very crazy, informative, and naive time in my life because one of the people who was my friend, and was one of the dancers on the ship was the person who I ended up getting into a relationship with. She was the first woman, and really the first relationship I ever had. I mean she was 19 years old but the whole experience lead me to a place of me coming out to my mother, and wanting to party and keep up with everybody. I also left college to take that job.
How was it working alongside Grammy nominated composer Jose Negroni, and so that our readers will know, tell us a little about Jose Negrioni?
I know that he lives in Miami, last time I saw him he had a jazz trio with his son and that’s how he got the Grammy nomination. When I worked with him it was in the National Theater in Puerto Rico. We were doing the production of cabaret and the woman who was playing the lead role of Sally Bowls was a famous actress called Yvette Rodriquez. Negroni was the director of the band. Obviously we worked together because I was singing and dancing in the production, but the rehearsals were never one on one, it was before he was nominated for a Grammy.
You were featured "New Artist" at the Latin Billboard Awards tell us about that experience?
I lived in Miami for 12 years. It was in the Seminole Hard Rock Resort in Hollywood Florida and they were having the Latin Grammy weekend there, they had stages everywhere and lots of performances. I had just come back from Japan and they had me there on one of the stages with a really amazing Jazz Trio.
As a singer you traveled the world sharing your music and vocals with audiences all over. How are you received in all of those different places: for example when you are performing in Japan do you perform your music in Japanese?
I sing in the languages that are mentioned in the bio. A culture like Japan, really loves Latin and Brazilian music - they appreciate it and study it. They ask for really intelligent kind of requests as opposed to other cultures who are not so familiar with the music, although they like it and think that it’s pretty, they will request like a Mariah Carey Song or a Celine Dion song…but when you go to Japan, they really know their stuff.