Known for her sultry tone and intuitive rhythm, female trumpeter and vocalist Alicia Rau has fashioned a notable reputation on the New York music scene. Rau connects with audiences worldwide and has become internationally recognized by her world music influences and organic approach. Taking the East Coast by storm, she performs and composes on trumpet, flugelhorn, voice, African percussion, and kalimba, drawing inspiration from a diverse musical upbringing.
The youngest of six girls in a musical family, this Iowa farmer’s daughter began playing music at an early age. As a toddler, Alicia would mimic TV jingles and familiar tunes on the piano. By age 7, she started piano lessons, and by age 10, she latched onto the trumpet. After much involvement in music in high school, she double majored in Music and Anthropology at the University of Iowa. While receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree, she spent a semester of field study in Senegal, West Africa. She studied ethnomusicology, learned African drumming and dance, and toured with local bands, all while speaking French and Wolof. Rau has studied privately with John Rapson, David Greenhoe, Clay Jenkins, Ingrid Jensen, Graham Haynes, Jack Cassidy, and Laurie Frink.
Rau moved to New York after graduating college and now leads two of her own jazz projects, aRAUz and Sugah Rush. aRAUz, her jazz project, features bassist Marcus McLaurine, guitarist Adam Lomeo, and drummer Bruce Cox. With sultry vocals in French and English, original African compositions, bebop-funk fusion, and innovative pop arrangements, aRAUz captivates audiences with catchy tunes both familiar and new.
After spending a great deal of time teaching in elementary and middle school classrooms, Rau created the band Sugah Rush, a positive resource for the youth of New York City’s public schools. Introducing musical instruments, performance techniques, concert etiquette, and creative expression within mainstream music, Sugah Rush is a channel for student-teacher mentoring and artistic inspiration.
In addition to leading her own projects, Rau spans the musical globe, working in reputable clubs along the East Coast with artists such as Gordon Gano & the Ryans, the Sweet Divines, Turkish-influenced Lovedogs, Seân 360x Universoul Spiritual Ankhestra , Amie Amis, Chale Mizik of Haiti, and the David White Jazz Orchestra. She has also joined forces with the Diva Jazz Orchestra , M.A.S. Swing Big Band, Irish Rock’s Clear the Battlefield, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater , tap dancer Roxane Butterfly & Djellabah Groove, Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra , and the Kit McClure Band. Rau has been featured as a guest performer and recording artist with Tessa Perry, saxophonist Premik Tubbs, composer Ari Shagal’s Summarily Dismissed, and Frankie Russo’s Rock Chicks Live. She has shared the stage with artists including John di Martino, Essiet Essiet, Sylvia Cuenca, Jennifer Vincent, Curtis Fowlkes, Maxine Brown, Baby Washington, Tammy Lynn, the Femm Nameless, Azouhouni Adou, Francis Mbappe, and T. K. Blue. While working with the Diva Jazz Orchestra, Rau has performed with Ann Hampton Callaway, Maurice Hines, Freda Payne, Tommy Newsom, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, and has performed the National Anthem at Yankees Stadium.
As a guest performer, Rau has toured West Africa, France, Canada, and the Dominican Republic with the Haitian Dance Troupe Choucoune, Zale Seck’s Mbalax Daagou, Groupe Ceddo, the Dominican Army Marine Band, and Batey Reggae Band. She can be seen in the recent Hollywood film My Sassy Girl, on the soundtrack of the film Betrayal with Gino Sitson, and in the upcoming film Dinner on the Riviera by T.D. White.
Currently residing in Manhattan, New York, Rau teaches private lessons on trumpet, piano, trombone, and flute. She conducts concert band and brass sectionals at Public School 29 with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Additionally, Rau teaches French, group piano, flute, and recorder in Murray Hill’s Public School 116.