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When clara lofaro participated in Toronto Indie Week last October she considered throwing in the towel if it didn’t go well.
Good thing, then, that she ended up winning the Urban/Soul category, beating over 350 other entries. Included in her prize was a distribution deal with Universal Canada.
"I came here and I was kinda on my last rope … you just doubt yourself a lot," she says. "I was like if we don’t place anything, if we don’t do well, if we don’t affect any of those people … I think this is it, who am I fooling? Indie Week showed me that this really is something special and that made a huge difference for me."
A Toronto native, lofaro left home after high school on a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston then settled in New York, her current home. "I had just finished Berklee. I fast-tracked through there because I was visiting New York while I was there and playing with musicians in New York already … it was the natural next step," she says. "I had maxed out the music scene in Boston … there was so much great music in New York. I just could not wait to get out there."
With the combination of lofaro’s charismatic and sensual stage presence and the rich melodious songs on her second album, Black + Blue Pearl, released on her own label ComeTrue Records, it’s no surprise she won at Indie Week. lofaro admits it’s an extremely personal album and describes its theme as "the beauty that survives through the struggle."
Influenced by artists such as Annie lennox, Patty Griffin and Bill Withers, lofaro’s music is hard to pigeonhole, and blends several genres including soul, rock and jazz. Her songs are laced with soulful grooves, and her vocals ooze with both vulnerability and defiance. She attempts to describe her sound, "without sounding vain … I really don’t think I sound like someone else … I don’t wanna feel limited … I think a lot of music today is made to sound like someone who’s really made it. My goal is to create my own sound…I just wanna keep being true to my music, when I write a song it’s totally inspirational, I’m not trying to fit into a certain style or category."
lofaro plays the Drake Underground Saturday.