HOMETOWN: Tehran, Iran
INFLUENCES: Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Jackson
ALBUM: Exotica, out now

A native of Tehran, Roxanna has fond memories of a childhood spent listening to her idol, Olivia Newton-John. When her family immigrated to Istanbul, Turkey, during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, she expanded her horizons. “It opened my heart so much more,” she says. “I was able to catch up with the Western world.” Eventually, Roxanna graduated from the nursing program at Toronto’s Seneca College, where she sang in the school’s choir. She witnessed firsthand the healing power of music at the bedside of her patients. “I could help heal their bodies, but I discovered I could also help heal their hearts and spirits with my voice,” she says.

Roxanna’s desire to become an entertainer grew after the sudden death of her mother in early 2013. “Her spirit was the spark that kept the flame of my passion ignited,” she says. “Her death stopped me in my tracks, but I knew she wanted me to push on, which gave me strength to pursue my dream with all the more determination.”

Now based in L.A., Roxanna has made strides in realizing that dream. Produced by Mark Portmann (Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Annie Lennox), her debut album, Exotica, combines jazz, Spanish and flamenco influences into a rich stew of styles and themes. “I look at this experience like cooking a meal,” she says. “It takes time for everything to come together just right.” The album also features two covers made popular by Julio Iglesias. “Julio is the most sensual, luxurious, vulnerable sound in the world,” she says. “I want to be the female version, bringing passion back to contemporary music. Enough about bad romance and hate and war. I can’t wait to share my songs as a testament that time has a way of healing everything.”

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