An Interview With rriveramusic

In this interview I talk to Rebecca all about singing, music and vinyl.

Rebecca: Hello! My name is Rebecca Rivera and I’m from Long Beach, CA. I have a son who is 24 and who will graduate from college in May 2020, something that fills me with pride. Growing up, I was always involved in music: singing in choir, and playing bassoon in orchestra and saxophone in jazz band. Many of my friends were in bands, and some made it big. Music was always around me.

The soundtrack of my life began at home with country music, moved to jazz and then opera and musical theater. In middle school I started listening to classic rock: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors and Simon Garfunkel. By the time I was in High School I was listening to The Grateful Dead, Reggae and bands like Sublime and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Music is how I connect to the world around me. It has been a thread that has connected me to so many wonderful people and experiences. Music has been like a river carving out a path for me in my life, shaping and molding it along the way.

On any given Sunday, you can find me down on the Bluff doing yoga enjoying the ocean and the beautiful weather in Long Beach.

Why did you decide to start a vinyl themed Instagram?

I started this account as a creative outlet. I am a very visual person and I like the original content and images that you see on Instagram versus lots of text on something like Facebook. I’m a musician by profession and my passion is also music so that’s what I post about. I realized recently that there is this massive vinyl community and it’s been really fun sharing my love for music with other music lovers all over world. Music is the universal language.

How long have you been been collecting records and how many do you have in your collection?

I got a record player and started buying vinyl about 6 years ago. I have about 400 records. I recently upgraded my set-up to a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable.

What’s your favourite vinyl you own and what is your holy grail?

My favorite record is probably my copy of, Deja Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. My Dad gave it to me when he found out I was listening to vinyl. I scribbled all over it as a kid so side two doesn’t play at all. I don’t have a holy grail record and I resist the term vinyl collector. That might change but for now it’s a casual hobby.

I’ve seen some of your videos of you singing, you have a great voice and also play instruments. When did this all start for you and what instruments do you play?

Thank you so much! I’ve always been drawn to music, ever since I can remember. I started singing first because I heard Ella Fitzgerald on the radio and was totally mesmerized by her voice. Shortly after that I started playing the saxophone in jazz band and then I learned to play the bassoon. I had an amazing teacher right away who became a huge mentor for me. She’s the reason I stuck with the bassoon. When I went to school for music the program was so intense that I had to pick one instrument rather than completing a double major in voice which I originally intended. I studied bassoon all the way through for my Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees. I have a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from The University of Southern California in bassoon performance. I’m very proud of that because I put myself through school while working and raising a son. Now when I teach I’m addressed as, Dr. Rivera. If you saw my stories you’ll know I just bought a new beautiful Heckel Bassoon in the U.K. I don’t really play anything else although I can manage a few chords on the guitar and piano.

Who’s in your top five of favourite bands/musicians?

Bob Marley and The Wailers

Grateful Dead

The Beatles

Joni Mitchell

Ella Fitzgerald 

If you could have dinner with any musician from any time who would it be and why?

Ella Fitzgerald because her voice captured my imagination so many years ago and started my love affair with music. At the peak of her career she had the most beautiful and warm voice. Ella had a difficult childhood and romantic life. She was never known as a great beauty or a, ‘femme fatale’ but man could she sing. She was always focused on her music and I respect and admire that so much. She pulled herself up from nothing and became known as the, “First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella”.

Any recommendations on movies, tv shows or music?

I’m a classical musician and I don’t post much about that so I’d like to share a couple of my favorite pieces:

The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky 

String Quartet in F Major by Maurice Ravel (My favorite recording is by the Emerson String Quartet)

Symphony no. 3 by Johannes Brahms 

A movie that ties into my personal story is, A Room With A View. It opens with this beautiful opera aria, ‘O mio babbino caro’ by Giacomo Puccini. I’ve wanted to go to Italy ever since I saw that movie when I was a young girl. Hopefully that will be my next adventure. Grazie Mille!

Dr. Rebecca Rivera, DMA

Creativity Takes Courage – Henri Matisse

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