The voice of an Angel

Rebecca Angel's first record, "What We Had," fuses traditional jazz with hints of Brazilian beats and Sade vibes. Photo: Robert Adam Mayer
Jazz vocalist on her debut album that combines traditional and contemporary aspects of the genre

Rebecca Angel was introduced to music as a toddler. By high school, the Scarsdale native would travel to the city for voice lessons to hone her talent. Last May, she graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in voice.

On June 1, the 22-year-old will release her first album, “What We Had,” which is a collaboration with her father, Dennis Angel, a trumpeter, and other New York musicians.

When asked to describe the sound of the EP, the Yorkville resident said it combines traditional jazz with hints of Brazilian beats and Sade vibes.

You studied piano since you were young. When did you know you had talent in singing?

My dad is a music enthusiast. He plays the trumpet. He introduced me to music at a really young age. So I was singing by two or three and really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until high school that I started taking voice lessons and decided to try to be more serious about it, more than just a hobby. So I was involved in musicals starting from age eight. I was definitely into the whole musical thing, but singing kind of on my own. Solo started in freshman year of high school, so that’s when I started getting more serious about it.

I read that you studied with Barbara Maier. I interviewed her for this column.

Yeah, she was my voice teacher in high school. I started working with her in 10th grade, up until I went off to college and she helped me prepare for auditions and everything. She’s really great; I loved her. I grew up right outside the city, in Scarsdale in Westchester. So on the weekends, I would go and take lessons from her in her apartment.

Take us through the process of making an album. How long did it take?

Starting from the beginning of college, I would do recordings with my dad and his band and the producer he would use, Jason Miles. And that got me started with the recording process. But it wasn’t until my junior year of college that we recorded “Jet Samba,” which is also on the EP that’s coming. But for this EP alone, we took “Jet Samba,” which was 2016 and since then, we’ve been working on building it. So the recording process probably took a little less than a year because I was still in school.

You wrote two songs with your father.

“What We Had,” which is the name of the EP, and “Feel Alive.” He’s really good at coming up with melodies and I wrote the lyrics, so it’s kind of a team effort there.

Did your dad encourage you to become a musician?

It’s so funny because he played trumpet growing up and was in a brothers’ band and they would perform. And his parents were very enthusiastic about pushing them to do music and my dad actually went on a slightly different path. He’s a copyright lawyer in the entertainment field. I work with him part time now. He decided to go down that path and keep the music as a hobby. So he’s always been encouraging for me to do the music stuff, which is nice.

You collaborated with different New Yorkers for this CD. Who were some of them?

Hailey Niswanger, she’s a saxophone player and was on “Winter Moon,” which is the first track. Jason Miles is the producer; he was featured on all the tracks, actually. My dad is featured on one of the songs. And my boyfriend, Jonah Prendergast, is a guitar player. It’s cool to get lots of different people on it.

Who would be your dream collaborator?

I really love Bon Iver. He does some really cool stuff. I think it would be really fun to one day collaborate with someone like him. And Billie Holiday, if I could go in the past.

What do you want listeners to take away from this album?

Behind most of the songs, I tried to tie them together about being about love and reminiscing and reflecting on the past, which is an overarching theme.

Who are your musical idols? What kind of music is on your playlist?

It’s funny. I have top artists who are actually all under the B’s. So Bob Marley, the Beatles, Bill Withers, Billie Holiday, like I said. Those are definitely some of my biggest inspirations.

Your bio on your website said that you found grunge and alternative as a teenager. Who are some of the bands you listened to then?

As a teenager, I listened to Foster the People a lot, the Lumineers. I listened to Empire of the Sun; they were pretty big. Kind of like an eclectic mix between a lot of pop and folk.

What are your future plans?

I want to keep writing music more. I think that’s where the future is in creating your own material. Because I know a lot of jazz music is heavily influenced on covering standards. So I want to try to create my own voice and write more music with meaning. And try to get it out there as much as I can and share my message, share love, you know, that sort of thing.