Johana Marcela Pinilla is a Latin alternative singer whose musical journey has taken her around the world.  She has had the pleasure of performing in many languages and in many countries from across South America to China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the United States. The influence of both her journey across the globe and the vast array of musical styles she encountered along the way, give Marcela (as most of the people know her) a sound that is uniquely her own.


Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Marcela Pinilla discovered a love for singing and dancing before she could even read and write. Her professional career started at age 14 and by age 15, she joined her first international tour. During that time she earned the respect of musicians in her community, which opened doors for her to be invited to collaborate in several music projects. While touring in Asia, she became fascinated with jazz and scat singing. As her passion and musical talent grew, she had the opportunity to join the band Jazz Latino and performed with the group at notable jazz festivals such as Sunrise Music Festival, the Kuala Lumpur Music Festival, and the Kuching Jazz Festival.


After her voyage through Asia with jazz, Marcela’s next move was to Memphis, Tennessee, where she was exposed to the emotive styles of blues and soul. There she collaborated with several Memphis acts, including the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Memphis Jazz Orchestra, and American soul group The Bar-Kays, she also performed with the Memphis Jazz Trio making her the first Latina to ever sing jazz in the legendary Beale Street. It was also in Memphis that the Marcela Pinilla Band was formed and had their very first performance at the Levitt Shell with a tribute to Latin American music.


While in Memphis, Marcela wrote and recorded “Un Mundo Bueno”, an inspiring song that features eight talented young singers from the Memphis Latino community. The song was the hallmark of her Un Mundo Bueno campaign to raise awareness and funds for Latino education. Following this education campaign, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell proclaimed October 13th, 2012 a Day to Celebrate the Life of Marcela Pinilla. In 2013, she received the Ruby Wharton Award for Youth from Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton, and was named the “Latin Voice of Memphis” by bilingual newspaper La Prensa Latina.


In May 2013, Marcela Pinilla released her first full-length album, PASSION. A blend of Latin alternative music influenced by jazz, blues and soul the album showcases the artist’s limitless versatility. PASSION features collaborations with several musicians including Elsten Torres and two world-renowned Grammy award winners saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and bassist Victor Wooten.


Today, she calls Nashville, Tennessee home where she had already been nominated at the Nashville Industry Music Awards as best jazz vocalist in 2016 and 2017 and had her dream of performing with her band at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center come true. She looks forward to continuing her musical journey in the creative mecca, Music City USA.  Marcela shares, “I love bringing people together. No matter how diverse my audience is, for that particular performance, we are all brothers and sisters living in peace. This is the main reason why I write songs and sing.”


For a full-length bio click here.


Photographer: Christopher Parks