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Sanazaro's CD release concert is also a homecoming

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 15, 2012 - Singer/Songwriter Leslie Sanazaro started her “Daughters of Cambodia” project near the end of 2010 as a way to raise awareness about the plight of women – and children – caught in the nightmare of human trafficking and forced prostitution in Southeast Asia and Africa.

With the help of fellow musicians and the financial support of fans contributing to help fund production costs of the recording, Sanazaro was able to record and release her CD, “First We Cry, Then We Laugh,” in December 2011.

At the beginning of 2012, Sanazaro and her husband, Alexis Santi, relocated to Ithaca, N.Y., where he works at Cornell University as coordinator for travel safety for students studying abroad.

After settling in a new home, Sanazaro was finally able to set up a CD release concert for “First We Cry, Then We Laugh,” back in St. Louis. The concert will take place this Friday, March 16 at the Concrete Ocean Gallery, 2257 S. Jefferson.

Sanazaro made the drive back to St. Louis from Ithaca late last week, and when she discussed the upcoming concert during a recent phone interview, she was thrilled at how well rehearsal had gone this past Sunday.

“It’s been so incredible rehearsing with everyone,” says Sanazaro. “I’ve not played with a group this large before! At times we’ll have more than 10 people on stage – including the backup singers.”

Joining Sanazaro, who will play keyboards and sing, will be guitarist Teddy Presberg and the other members of his resistance trio, organist Leclare Stevenson and drummer Kyle Honeycutt. Bassist Eric Grossman and trumpet player Dawn Weber round out the instrumental side of the band – joined by backup vocalists Rebecca Ryan and Eileen Allen. Sanazaro’s two sisters will also sing backup on several songs.

Presberg played on the CD and also assisted in the recording and production of “First We Cry, Then We laugh.” Stevenson, Honeycutt, Grossman and Weber also played on Sanazaro’s recording.

“In addition to the concert itself, there will be an exhibition of photos by my husband, Alexis Santi,” Sanazaro says. "The photos were taken on our trip to Cambodia last year, and will only be up for the night of the performance. We’ll also be showing video and photos that were taken during the trip. We’ll have bags that were handmade in Cambodia for sale to raise funds. And we’ll have speakers and information from the groups Rescue Restore and The Covering House, who address human trafficking issues here in St. Louis.”

For Sanazaro, it’s been a long journey from the time she first decided to address the issue of human trafficking in Southeast Asia through her music, but with the CD release concert on the horizon and rehearsals underway, she’s clearly excited about the event.

“I really think this concert is going to be the best one I’ve ever done,” she concludes. “And I’m looking forward to seeing all my St. Louis friends again Friday night!”

For more information about Sanazaro, her new CD and her visit to Cambodia last summer, go to www.daughtersofcambodia.com.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.

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