Rita di Ghent

b. 1963, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, but raised in Chicago, Illinois, USA. At the end of the 80s, singer-songwriter Di Ghent began what eventually became known as the Sprawl Project. Unlike many of her…
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Artist Biography

b. 1963, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, but raised in Chicago, Illinois, USA. At the end of the 80s, singer-songwriter Di Ghent began what eventually became known as the Sprawl Project. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Di Ghent, who has been described as a street poet of Toronto, includes in her repertoire songs that deal with social issues concerning inner-city dwellers. She offers an unusual take on contemporary music and poetry, incorporating jazz with a form of hip-hop that is distinctively her own. Although rooted in the jazz vocal tradition, her independent and original thinking has created something that is very much of today. Often unrehearsed and spontaneous, her music has a potent vibrancy that demands attention. After making her debut in New York in 1990, in an appearance with trumpeter Mark Ledford, she established a considerable following in her homeland and in particular in Toronto. In 1999 she composed a new work for the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. In the early 00s, she was nominated for the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Prix De Jazz.

Di Ghent’s reputation has gradually spread, owing to appearances in places such as the prestigious Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where she performed in the spring of 2002. In addition to her listed albums, in 2000 Di Ghent released an EP, A Groove Christmas, on her Mo Funk label. Among the musicians with whom she regularly works are trumpeter Nick ‘The Brownman’ Ali, pianist/organist Dave Restivo, bass players Marc Rogers and Louis Simao, and drummers Daniel Barnes and John Obercian. She has a strong vocal presence and has cited Sarah Vaughan as a principal influence.