Sasha Lazard's eclectic education in acoustics began as a child growing up in the City of Light. On the cobblestoned streets of Paris, she absorbed the vibrato of clinking café cups and lovers’ farewell kisses against the backdrop of a lone, lilting accordion. Though young, she could already sense a captivating Je ne sais quoi about it all.
By age eleven, now living in her native New York, the dramatic soprano-within was ready to emerge. Attending her first opera, Verdi’s La Traviata, “I was overwhelmed, I couldn’t breathe,” she recalls, “I needed to know it.” After a school choir director recognized the young girl’s precocious talent, Sasha spent her teen years performing arias atop church pulpits and giving recitals in Park Avenue living rooms.
Her Russian-born vocal coach, Emily Olin, with whom she’s studied since age 15, also introduced Sasha to the romantic, wistful folk songs of her culture. “There was always this common theme of…I love you, please don’t leave me, I beg of you!” says Sasha.
At The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Sasha studied classical voice by day; but by night, the diva-in-training escaped that “tight-laced” world by belting out tunes with a local rock n’ roll band, befitting the infamous Haight-Ashbury pop scene. “I’d never listened to the beat of my own generation before,” she admits, “so for the first time, I was learning about contemporary music.”
Post graduation, Sasha returned to the classics and toured the world with prestigious chamber orchestras and opera companies. But underneath her virtuoso voce, another voice was craving to get out. A rebel by nature, Sasha wasn’t content anymore to confine herself to one mode of expression. Instead, she yearned to integrate all the varied sounds that had resonated with her along her journey--opera, Russian folk tunes, orchestral music, Italian love songs, the primal-tribal Hip-Hop of Manhattan nightclubs, and the transformative power of a great pop-rock ditty. When she got the inspiration to break genre rules and embrace them all--“that was when,” she says, “I found my calling.”
Over the next decade, Sasha firmly established herself as a bona fide crossover. And over. And over again. She sang for people and in places as diverse as her repertoire; from Carnegie Hall to Privilege, the world’s biggest nightclub in Ibiza, Spain; from entertaining the USO troops on their way to Iraq to singing the National Anthem at Shea Stadium for the New York Mets.
She also developed an inimitable on-stage visage---flowing, colorful, diaphanous gowns and exotic adornments—creating an ethereal, hypnotic effect. With a true artist’s eye, Sasha uses her body, wardrobe and stage as her canvas.
Her stylish mix resulted in her first CD, The Myth of Red. “The Red is for fire, sex, blood, lipstick, anger…and the mystery of a woman’s chipped, crimson toenail polish,” says Sasha, who used a dark and doomed romance from her past as her muse. The CD debuted on Billboard’s Hot Dance and Classical Crossover charts, heralded as “overflowing with passion and sensuality.”
Myth’s success established Sasha as a sought-after performer in the celebrity world, where she sang for fashion greats Carolina Herrera, Louis Vuitton, and Narcisco Rodriquez; at luxury brand soirees for Bulgari and Maserati; and at the world’s most exclusive hotels, theatres, civic centers, film festivals, private homes, and, yes--palaces.
In the gold leaf paneled Amber Room near St. Petersburg, once owned by Tsar Peter the Great, the songstress sang the folk song, Yem Sheek Nyegani (“The Coachman”), and “all of a sudden the waiters put down their trays and started singing along with tears in their eyes,” she recalls. With the falling snow outside, it was very Dr. Zhivago-esqe.
In-between globetrotting, Sasha has donated her time and talent to dozens of charity galas and benefits, including The Global AIDS Alliance and amfAR’s annual “Boathouse Rocks” benefit, Ferragamo’s benefit for the Naked Angels Theater Company, Edwin Gould Services for Family and Children, The Whitney Museum’s annual charity gala, The Worldwide Orphans Foundation, The Parent-Child Home Program, The Starlight Children’s Foundation, the Heart Gallery.
Her high profile gigs also led to big screen success: she crooned the lead song for the box office hit, Princess Mononoke and recorded a haunting rendition of Ave Maria for the Kate Winslet film, Holy Smoke, and Andy Garcia’s “Modigliani” among many others. Her song “Di Notte” from the film, The Lodger, was a short-listed runner up for a 2009 Academy Award nomination.
Grammy Award-winning producer Peter Asher helmed Sasha’s second album, Siren, a duet with soprano Shawna Stone. Recorded at London’s renowned Air/Lyndhurst Studios with members of the London Philharmonic, the duo reinterpreted pop hits by Radiohead, John Denver, Sting, and James Taylor and performed for the national PBS live concert event, Heavenly Voices, filmed at the historic Olympia Theatre in Miami.
In addition to Siren, Sasha completed Moonfall, a collection of operatic vocal, piano, and cello arrangements of Russian gypsy songs, and French cabaret. Her 5-song EP, Miles Away, is an opera-trip-hop combo featuring her original take on Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night”.
Recently, Sasha founded The Myth of Red Creative Salon Series, held every few months at The National Arts Club in New York. There, she invites a wide range of artists and civilians to commune for a fluid, themed evening of music, poetry, art, improv…with belly dancing and lively conversation. “After all,” she says, “Roman poet Horace said that the ultimate goal of poetry is dulce et utile—to seduce and to educate.”
New Yorkers can also find Sasha’s seductive teachings at hotelier Andre Balazs’ Top of the Standard, one of the city’s hippest VIP lounges.
Now working on her fifth CD, Sasha promises it will be her most personal and biographical to date. “All the music I love has no rhyme or reason to it,” she says, “but I follow my own path. And it’s me.”
– NATASHA STOYNOFF