Biography

Short Biography:

Carla Stokes is a saxophonist, bandleader, music educator and music producer born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa. Carla has been a trained musician her entire life since starting at age eight. She started learning music formally at school, studying classical clarinet and piano. When Carla started high school and joined her school's orchestra and jazz band, she fell in love with Jazz and the sound of the tenor sax, her now primary instrument. She then went on to study a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in Music thereafter, at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. She's been gigging professionally since age 15 in various band set-ups and has performed in many big bands, to Jazz, Rock and Pop bands, and currently gigs around town with her own bands on a regular basis. 

Long Biography:

Carla Stokes is a saxophonist, bandleader, music educator and producer born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa. Carla has been a trained musician her entire life since starting at age eight. She started learning music formally at school, studying classical clarinet and piano. When Carla started high school and joined her school's orchestra and jazz band, she fell in love with Jazz and the sound of the tenor sax, her now primary instrument. She then went on to study a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance, graduating in 2018, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in Music in 2019, at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. Carla attained her BMus degree under the tutelage of Dan Shout, Prof. Mike Rossi and Prof. Mike Campbell. She's been gigging professionally since age fifteen in various band set-ups, and is a full-time music teacher by day and gigging musician by night.

 

Carla has performed with various big bands in and around Cape Town, most notably, the UCT Big Band, conducted by Professor Mike Campbell. The band has performed at various festivals, such as The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival in 2017 and 2018. In 2012, when Carla was in high school, she made tenor saxophone in the National School’s Big Band. Today, as a graduate, Carla has performed in the UCT Alumni Big Band, under conductor and Professor Mike Campbell at the annual Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival, as well as in The Mike Campbell Big Band. In 2017 Carla was asked to play first tenor saxophone in South Africa’s all-female big band, The Lady Day Big Band. Carla played first tenor in the band from 2017 to 2019, and played on The Lady Day Big Band's first album. The band was founded by vocalist, Lana Crowster, and was conducted by Amanda Tiffin. The band has performed all over Cape Town as well as at festivals such as KKNK and Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2019.  

 

Carla has immersed herself in many different styles of music over her years of experience, in order to offer as much versatility as a musician as possible. She has played tenor saxophone and clarinet in the Indian music scene under colleague, Lilavan Gangen. This band has played at many weddings, private and public Diwali events, including a performance for the Indian Consulate for the Festival of India in Cape Town, in 2019. Carla has played tenor saxophone in band Los Tacos, a 10-piece Latin-Fusion band in 2019. The band has performed in the Cape Town festival and club scene at local venues like Aces and Spades, Mercury Live, The Brass Bell and Harringtons Cocktail Lounge. Carla was the clarinet and sax player in band, The Pebble Shakers, a South African Swing band, from December 2019 to March 2020. The band has performed at weddings and events at Media 24, The Jagger Lounge, and The V and A Waterfront Amphitheatre.

Carla, being a qualified subject music educator, has taught music at prestigious schools in Cape Town renowned for their music departments, teaching sax and clarinet at Rondebosch Boys' High for four years and Bergvliet High School for two, among other schools in the Cape. She is currently a full-time music teacher at a junior school in Cape Town. Carla has also assisted Ann Barr of the Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival as social media manager when the pandemic hit and the festival moved online. When the pandemic struck and South Africa went into a strict lockdown in March 2020, Carla taught herself music production, and has since collaborated with many musicians locally and internationally. Click here to watch the series "Carla Collabs." 

Carla has released some original music, her first single entitled, "Modern Love", in September 2020. She composed and arranged the tune for a six-piece band, and performs tenor sax and a short rap in the song. Click here to watch the live music video on YouTube. Through learning the DAW, Ableton, and self-taught knowledge in music production, Carla released her second single, an electronic, hip-hop and jazz inspired, "Sunday Afternoon", in April 2021. Follow her on any streaming platform to have a listen. In this single, Carla writes an ode to her home city, Cape Town. She envisions those beautiful coastal drives that we Capetonians are so lucky to take in the Summer, or in fact, all year round. It is the perfect song to relax to whilst watching the sun go down. She produced the track independently and experimented with fusing her specialty, jazz saxophone, with electronic sounds.

For Carla's discography, click here.

To view Carla's YouTube channel, click here.