Local 913, Episode 101: Kenia
Kenia Acioly-Ashby is a noted vocalist and owner of Mooka Entertainment, a production company that promotes Brazilian and Latin culture in Pittsburgh. Acioly-Ashby, who uses her first name Kenia as her stage name, originally comes from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
“It’s important to know I am the baby of five girls. Music has always been part of our family. I grew up with my sister all playing the piano and I learned a little bit as well. At the time in the early 70’s the boss nova movement was really happening and my sisters were very involved in that. Music was always in the house and boss nova was always in the house. That really influenced me in my early days.”
Pittsburgh was not her first stop when she immigrated to America:
“When I first moved to the U.S., I was in New York and then I made a move to LA where my record label was. While I was there, I met my ex-husband who was on tour there, he lived in NY. We met; we married and moved to New York. He was invited to come to PGH to develop a jazz studies program for the Pittsburgh public schools through The Manchester Craftsman’s Guild. That was many moons ago, some 25 years ago, wow!”
Kenia has released her own solo material as well as provide guest vocals for many noted musicians, including her favorite...:
“James Taylor was unbelievable! It was very unexpected. It was wonderful. He’s a fabulous human being. Unfortunately we didn’t keep in touch for many years after the recording. I bumped into him a few times when he was in Brazil and when he was in Pittsburgh. When he comes here, I go to the shows. I don’t wanna be like ‘HI JAMES!’ you know? Ha! As much as I do wanna do that. He was fabulous and for me that was my highlight.”
Kenia released her latest album On We Go in September of 2016. For more on Kenia, visit her website.