Do you like samba? Bossa nova? American soul? Then you will definitely love Carla Hassett, a Brazilian-born artist now based in Los Angeles. Her upcoming album, Circulo, is due for release this summer, and it will take you to the paradise cove in your fantasies, which is why it was such a surprise to me to learn from Carla herself about how she grew up in Chicago of all places. Here is some insight into her musical journey and thoughts about her homeland.

How did you get in touch with your warm Brazilian musical aspirations while being raised in such a cold, wintry place like Chicago?

Growing up in a Brazilian community in Chicago was actually a very interesting way of experiencing my culture while not living in my home country. I was actually raised in a very Brazilian household that hosted a lot of parties with a lot of Brazilian music. Most Brazilians are amateur musicians; interestingly, the word “amateur” in Portuguese is “Amador,” which means “lover” (LAUGHS). I used to infiltrate guitar jams when I was young, and I learned how to play guitar and sing.

It sounds like you developed a love for music at a young age. How did you take this love to the next level?

I won a scholarship to a conservatory of music in Chicago. Although classical music was not my true interest, music was. Two years later, I landed a pop gig with the professional musicians around town. It was called the Orchestra 33, which was a 10-piece band complete with horn, string, rhythm section, and singers. They would write their own arrangements of pop songs in the old-school way. I was young and green but wanted to make arrangements too. With the help of one of the band members, I eventually learned how to orchestrate, arrange, and copy music, and I actually still use that skill today.

Have you returned to Brazil? If so, what are your thoughts about the music scene there?

Yes, actually I lived in Sao Paulo (Brazil’s capital city) for two years. It’s amazing how much Brazilians love music. I remember I was going to play a gig but it was pouring rain and I didn’t think anyone would show up. In Los Angeles, that would probably be the case, but I was shocked to find that there was a line out the door. My new record is actually influenced by new up-and-coming artists from Brazil.

Check out Carla Hassett’s sultry version of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”:

You can catch Carla Hassett TONIGHT at Camilo’s in Eagle Rock performing with Trio Tres. She will also be performing at Room 5 next Friday, and I will be there!

For music and more show dates, visit Carla Hassett’s Official Page.