Chances are you don’t know Quana Ramira yet. But you may have seen the name of her act, the QDiva Experience, pass by once or twice. A local up-and-comer with a strong voice and Chaka Khan-ian stage presence, this driven chanteuse is so committed to making a career out of her musical passion that it’s now her full-time pursuit, day jobs be damned. Here, she talks about her passion for the song, the local scene in general, and what it’s like to be a “diva.”
French Davis: When did you start singing?
Quana Ramira: I come from a musical family. My father was a musician, and my very first memories were of him singing and playing guitar with my three older sisters. I remember my sisters harmonizing with him. I was about 4 years old, and I knew I was supposed to sing.
FD: Where did you grow up? Give us “The story of Quana.”
QR: Coming from a military family, we were kind of all over the place! I was born in Hawaii, and we stayed there until I was about 2 years old. We were then transferred to Tacoma/Seattle, which is where I remained until moving to Colorado at age 19.
FD: Who have some of your biggest musical influences been?
QR: I was raised on everything from The Beatles to Janis Joplin to John Denver. Some of my major influences include Michael Jackson, Prince, Tori Amos, Sarah McLaughlin, Marvin Gaye, Annie Lennox and Billie Holiday, just to name a few. Interestingly enough, there are some that seem to be tempted to automatically try to pigeon hole me as a jazz/soul/blues singer. Of course I am also highly influenced by those genres, and I feel my energy and style exudes a great deal of “soul” as it were. However, I am not limited to these styles as I feel my expression is a wonderful fusion of many styles. End result being something perhaps one has not seen or heard before.
FD: Why “QDiva Experience?” Considering how often the term is tossed around…are you actually a diva?
QR: My answer depends on what context the term “diva” is being used. The original definition is “accomplished female vocalist.” So, if that is the context, then yes, I am a diva! I take issue with how the term is being “tossed” around these days. The name of the band sprung from “QDiva,” which was the name given to me by one of my musical partners for a stage persona that seemed to erupt on stage out of the blue. So, in affect, “QDiva” is my alter ego. She is the energy/personality that seems to come through on stage, becomes explosive, and tears everything up. …When I decided to move forward with my own band, I wanted a name that was different. At first, I was going to call it QDiva Project, but that never felt quite right. A dear friend of mine said to me, “You’re not a project, you’re an experience.” Thus, QDiva Experience was born.
FD: Which local venues are most supportive of “new” local acts?
QR: Nissi’s, Jazz at Jacks, Herman’s Hideaway and Toad Tavern are all good venues for new bands. They provide a space and opportunity for new bands and artists to showcase themselves and get the ball rolling. These venues understand there has to be a way for new acts to start, everyone’s got to start somewhere.
FD: What’s your advice to those who want to make music their full-time career?
QR: Spend time on self-reflection until there is an inner readiness and knowing that it is “time.” Keep things to yourself until such time. You have to be strong and sure of your path because one can easily get thrown off. Unfortunately, due to fear, others either—in an attempt to be well meaning, nosey, or worse yet— may feel threatened on some level by your choice. They may try to talk you out of it, express “worry” or doubt, and try to remind you of how “difficult” it is, etc. Accept that you are the creator of your reality.