When Alto Sandi Shorago recently auditioned for Paradox Voice Band, she floored us with the raw emotion and sensitive vulnerability infusing her cover of Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.” It got real for us right then. We knew we had to have her in our band and wasted no time casting her. A San Francisco Bay Area native who began singing at the age of four, accompanied by her father on piano, Sandi since has sung with a cappella groups in both high school and college, while studying music at UC Santa Cruz. With a background in musical theater and several years of experience performing in Tom Lehrer’s Musical Theatre Workshop, she’s also served as the soul and pop singer for a local salsa band as well as for a jazz quartet. Her most memorable musical experience so far was sitting in with musical legend Bobby McFerrin (famous for his one-man, a cappella, feel-good hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”) when he performed at the Great American Music Hall. By day, Sandi teaches a classroom of grade-schoolers… which sheds a lot of light on just exactly how she’s able to put up with all of us untamed and incorrigible Paradox "kids" without losing her mind! We wanted to know what else makes Sandi tick, so we asked her, and this is some of what she said:
Paradox (P): I know you’re from the Bay, but where exactly?
Sandi (S): I am a Bay Area native, born and raised in Foster City.
P: What’s your favorite childhood memory?
S: My favorite childhood memory is singing "Babe" by Styx while my dad, a self-taught musician, accompanied me on the piano. I remember that he told me that I could really "wail" and I was so proud!
P: Which grade do you teach, and what made you choose this path?
S: I teach First Grade and chose this career because it's a perfect combination of my love of children and my desire to help those who struggle in school like I did as a child. At this age, the kids love to make music, so I get to do a lot of singing with them on a daily basis and I get to see otherwise shy children light up when they sing.
P: Which current artists inspire you musically and why?
S: The current artist I'm most inspired by is Adele because she's a plus-size woman with an amazing voice and is so successful at what she does. This is the first time I've seen someone whose body type is like mine really make it in the music business. She also has such a gorgeous rasp and a longing to her voice that I find so inspiring.
P: That really comes across in your singing. Who's your favorite female singer from decades past?
S: My all-time favorite singer from the past is Ella Fitzgerald. I was incredibly fortunate to see her at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos in the ‘90's when she herself was in her 90's. It was an amazing experience to say the least. At one point, she apologized for scatting because she couldn't remember the words!
P: How do you feel when you sing?
S: When I sing, I feel electrified and so, so happy! Singing has always been the thing that lights me up, whether I'm happy or sad. It makes me feel like anything is possible.
P: You're brand new to Paradox Voice Band... what's it like so far?
S: Being a part of Paradox has been so amazing. I've never had the chance to work with such a kind, supportive, accepting, and hilarious group of people before, and I feel like I've found my home. My proudest moment so far was just the act of auditioning for Paradox in the first place. It's been awhile since I performed professionally, and I was very nervous about trying to read music after such a long time. When I found out that I got in, I was literally beaming with pride and did a happy dance! My family and friends can't wait to see our group perform and neither can I.
Sandi, truly, it’s an honor to sing with you too. We’re richer for knowing you. Welcome home. :) – Fritz Lambandrake, Managing Director, Paradox Voice Band