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Sound Circuit

Tapping into Bliss

6/11/2014

Bella Soul plays Rendezvous on Riverview on Friday, June 13.

Bella Soul plays Rendezvous on Riverview on Friday, June 13.

I’m not what you would readily describe as a religious man. But it’s impossible to be in the presence of Tina Haase Findlay, to hear that singular voice, and not feel as if you’re basking in something bigger than yourself.

She’s always been singing. Since the age of 3, she reckons. And all along the way, she’s known that what she carried in her chest was more than just the simple, clumsy voice that most of us are burdened with. She knew, almost from the day she started, that hers was a voice meant for soaring.

As a gifted solo performer and frontwoman of Bella Soul, she’s become rightfully known around these parts as one of the greatest jazz and blues vocalists going. But that’s not how young Tina Haase got her start.

“Growing up, my tastes were surprisingly conservative,” she recalled. “I was an interracial child in the only black family in an all-white town. So the music that people would traditionally think of as more ‘urban’ were not really on my radar. I was a big Olivia Newton John fan. Stevie Nicks is my favorite singer of all time. People would be shocked. I was singing along with the radio to Barbara Streisand.”

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She would eventually move to Des Moines and attend Drake University. It was there where Haase Findlay would begin her education in jazz, and she’s forever grateful for the influence the University has had on her life.

“Last month when I did the Gershwin tribute at (The Turner Jazz Center), I made the remark that it was a full-circle moment, because the first singing I did in this town was at Drake. The first jazz concert I ever went to was on the hill outside of Turner. It means a lot to me.”

Haase Findlay’s voice is a work of art. Whether she’s singing a jazz standard, or one of Bella Soul’s original songs, that God-sent clarion stands head and shoulders above everything else.

“There’s way more to me than just being a singer,” she said. “But singing for me is one of the great loves of my life. Like a person. It’s a thread that has been with me the whole way, like a friend that never leaves your side. Singing has been a source of tapping into my bliss state.”

For us, too, Tina. Us, too.  CV

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