Member Spotlight: Suzette Ortiz
Suzzette Ortiz, hailing from Bayamon, Puerto Rico is a gifted pianist, singer, arranger, recording artist and composer. She is versatile in many musical styles and holds a Bachelors degree in Piano Performance from the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico as well as a Masters degree in Music Education from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA). Suzzette has taken choral conducting classes at Juilliard School of Music (New York, NY) and at the University of The Arts (Philadelphia, PA). She has studied vocal improvisation with singers Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon, Joey Blake, David Worm (WeBe3) and Judi Vinar (Bobby McFerrin’s “Voicestra” members).
Suzzette has received multiple awards from the city of Camden and the New Jersey State Senate including the Martin Luther King Freedom Medal for her work as a teacher. She taught for the Camden, New Jersey School District for 27 years, where she directed the acclaimed Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy Concert choir, the Treble Choir, Men/Barbershop, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and co-directed the Show Choir. Her choirs won multiple awards both nationally and internationally. Under her direction, the choirs won first and second place in Italy, Prague, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Poland, Virginia, Nashville, Tennessee, New Orleans, New York and Orlando, Florida. She is the former Artistic Director for the Artístas y Músicos Latino Americanos (AMLA) Music School.
As a pianist, Ortiz has been a luminary in Philadelphia’s Latin music scene for the better part of two decades. She performed with the female Latin-jazz group ELLAS and even garnered four Latin Grammy nominations with Philadelphia salsa group Orquesta La Paz. Some of her compositions have been published by the Jazz Bridge Philadelphia Real Book , Hal Leonard, J.W. Pepper, World Publications, GIA and Oregon Catholic Press.
Suzzette is also a certified music practitioner by the MHTP (Music for Healing and Transition Program). She plays harp providing comfort music to patients in homes, hospitals, skill nursing facilities and hospice. In an upcoming project funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, she will be working with three other pianists, composing music inspired by stories of caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Suzzette’s ultimate goal is to be an instrument that empowers all who listen. Overcoming many social and cultural obstacles to share her message of hope and love though music, Suzzette Ortiz is truly making a difference!