Carol Oya

Region: BC ON Toronto Vancouver
Generation: Nisei
Born 1971, Vancouver, BC


Carol Oya hails from Vancouver. She’s been singing pretty much all her life. As a kid, she loved to watch “Solid Gold” and mimic her idols, Olivia Newton-John and Sheena Easton. Like every good Asian parent, her mum forced her to take piano lessons from the age of five. She fondly remembers crying while doing her scales and arpeggios. Of course, Carol is now forever indebted to her mum for insisting on the lessons!

During her year as an au pair in Sevilla, Spain, Carol started singing with a Spanish rock band. She rocked out doing covers of the Stones, the Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and others. It was there she got her first taste of performing in front of a crowd and she was hooked.

After Spain, Carol moved to Yokohama, Japan to teach English. One evening after work, she came out of the train station in Fujisawa and saw two young guys busking. Tetsu, the saxophonist and Tomo, the bassist were both university students. She “sat in” and sang a couple of songs with them and the rest as they say is history. They introduced her to other jazz musicians and during the seven years that she lived in Japan, Carol fronted two of her own jazz quartets.

Since moving to Toronto, she has performed at Gate 403, Tranzac, Harlem East,The Emmet Ray, The Rex, Aviv Restaurant, Cafe Pamenar, Kensington Lodge, The Supermarket, and various private functions. She has worked with many talented musicians including Winston Matsushita, Sarah Thawer, Rommel Reyes, Jeffrey Hewer, Gareth Parry, Dane Wedderburn, Yash Presswalla, Dan Fortin, Riley O’Connor, Harley CardMark Godfrey, and Joe Ryan. She has taken vocal lessons with Rita di Ghent and Elaine Overholt. Both of these incredibly generous and gifted teachers have given her the tools and confidence to challenge herself both vocally and emotionally.

Some of her influences include Stevie Wonder, Karrin Allyson, Dianne Reeves, Donny Hathaway, Shirley Horn, Rachelle Ferrell, Kurt Elling, Carmen McRae, Prince, and many others.

Artist Statement

Music transcends everything. Living in different countries and speaking five languages have helped me collaborate with an array of musicians and I feel extremely fortunate. Playing live in front of an audience is always exciting and rewarding because each time it is different. I hope that when people hear my songs, whether they are inventive covers or original tunes, they make a connection and feel something.  
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