Carmen Cuesta biography
Born in Madrid, Spain, Carmen grew up singing from a very early age. A member of the choirs in both church and school, she was often asked to be a soloist, as she displayed a natural gift for singing. At home, she took up the guitar, and self-taught, by the age of fifteen began composing the lyrics and music to her own songs. Around this time, while playing and singing at a party with some friends, she met singer, and now journalist, Jos Martin, of the group "Somos". Within a short period of time they began doing concerts as a duo, with Carmen presenting herself as a singer and composer in public for the first time. With the recording of the group by the EMI Record Company Carmen got her first taste of working in the recording studio, and became a published songwriter. Shortly thereafter, while pursuing her degree in education at the University of Madrid, Carmen auditioned, and was asked to join the cast of the show "Godspell" in the role of Mary Magdalena. And so, at the age of seventeen, she put her studies on hold to perform both in Madrid, and throughout the rest of Spain with this theater troupe. The cast included many talented performers, comedians, actors, dancers and singers, many of whom later went on to become well known personalities in the world of Spanish entertainment.
Upon her return to Madrid, Carmen's career, both as a performing artist and as an in demand studio singer, flourished. Her days were spent at recording sessions of all types while at night she was performing in various theatrical productions in Madrid's major theaters. This did not, however, prevent her from continuing to develop her talents as a songwriter and artist in her own right. Her working relationships with other prominent artists and writers such as Luis Eduardo Aute, Miralles, and Jose Mas (Kitflus) led to many interesting developments in her own style, while at the same time she was experimenting with jazz by collaborating with Pedro Ruy Blas and members of the group "Dolores". These experiences enriched her writing and singing style and opened the door to many future involvements with other jazz artists. Carmen also appeared once in a major film production, "Retrato de Familia" with noted actor/singer Miguel Bose, but found the movie making experience very emotionally draining, and decided to focus on music and theater.
It was in 1979 that Carmen came in contact with jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, who she met while he was performing in Madrid with the legendary jazz saxophonist Stan Getz. Within three months of their first encounter Carmen and Chuck were married and living in New York City. One can only imagine the drastic change in Carmen's life. Only love sustained the hardships of their first years together. With Chuck still on tour with Stan Getz much of the time, Carmen found herself alone, jobless and far away from family and friends in the vast metropolis that is New York City. Slowly she began to make personal and professional contacts, working at first in Local Spanish Repertory Theaters, and occasional recording sessions. Pianist Andy LaVerne, who had been a member of the Getz group along with Chuck, was so enthralled with Carmen's singing that he established the group "Paradise" to showcase her voice and the music written by himself and Carmen. The group also included bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottleib of the popular Pat Metheney Band and together they performed for over two years in many of the well-known clubs in New York.
When Chuck finally left the Stan Getz group the couple had more time to write music together. This led to the formation of their own group "Paralelo", a blend of jazz, pop, rock and latin styles. The band included many notable musicians such as bassist Will Lee, drummers Peter Erskine, Dave Weckl, Joey Barron and Steve Ferrone, pianists Clifford Carter and Mitchel Forman, saxophonists Michael Brecker, Bill Evans and Bob Mintzer among many others. This spoiled Carmen to this day, in that she feels the need to surround herself with only the best, as is evidenced by the line-ups of her two CD's to date. Her compositional skills were an integral part of the group's sound, as she either composed or co-wrote almost all of the material. They performed and recorded for many years in and around New York City.
At around this same time Carmen was asked to co-host a television talk magazine show "Imagenes" for SIN, the largest Spanish-speaking network. She conducted interviews and discussed developments in the world of arts and entertainment, along with her co-host Luca Bentivoglio. After a year Carmen became pregnant with her first child and in 1985 she left the show to focus only on motherhood. In July of the same year her first daughter Christina was born and her life took a completely new direction. Within another year she had Elizabeth, her second daughter, and devoted herself entirely to her family. Any spare time she had, she used for her other two loves; tennis and reading. She went back to college and slowly started to work towards her degree in English Literature, and achieved her certification as a tennis instructor. During these years Chuck's career as an in demand studio guitarist and producer provided an outlet for Carmen's talents as a composer and singer. In between loads of laundry, cooking and child rearing, she somehow found time to write songs and record with such notable artists as Earl Klugh, Nelson Rangell, Jim Hall, Grover Washington, jr., Larry Coryell, Donald Harrison, Gato Barbieri, Michael Franks, Spyro Gyra, Till Brunner, Jon Lucien, Peabo Bryson, Metro, and all of Chuck's CD's.
In 1996 Carmen recorded and released her first CD as a solo recording artist "One Kiss" and began to step back into the music world. With the release of her second CD "Peace of Mind" she has establishes herself as a singer and songwriter with a unique style and sound, blending her love and knowledge of many musical flavors, with her mellifluous voice, accompanied by some of the foremost talents the contemporary music. In the summer of 2000 she performed for the first time in many years in her native Spain. The show was at the "Jazz en la Costa" in Granada, and was very successful. She recently graduated from college with honors, and continues to devote most of her time to her family, their home in upstate New York, their dog Steffi and their life and music together.