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Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Katia grew up in a musical family. Her mother, Janis Kelly, is an accomplished vocalist, who sang with Maurice White and the Emotions, and opened for Rufus & Chaka Khan, Tower of Power and Carole King. Her father, Mark Cardenas, is a professional keyboardist, and a Platinum and Gold recording artist, whose credits include Prince, Morris Day and the Time, Janet Jackson, and The Song Catchers (featuring Charles Neville). From an early age, she was raised on a strict diet of funk, soul, and r&b. She received a Waldorf education, which taught her a deep appreciation for the arts, and a passion for singing. Being so surrounded by music, a musician's life was second nature to her. In junior high, she moved to Sacramento, California, where she sang in select choirs, jazz and show choirs, and developed a passion for musical theater.

At 16, she attended the Visual and Performing Arts Charter School, where she became deeply involved in music, theatre, and dance. At 17, she joined her mother's band, The Groove Ambassadors, as a lead and back up vocalist. In addition to gigging regularly in clubs throughout Sacramento, The Groove Ambassadors gained critical acclaim, performing at such distinguished events as  Gov. Schwarzenegger's Inauguration, and the City-wide Day of Service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She also sang regularly at the Christ Unity Church, as a guest soloist and a member of the house band. 

Desiring a change of scenery, Katia moved to the St. Paul, MN in 2006 to attend Macalester College. She joined The Sirens, an all-female a cappella group on campus, in which she was a featured soloist, arranger and vocal percussionist. Throughout college, she performed at many on-campus events, and developed a dedicated following, winning first place in the "Macalester Idol," college-wide singing competition in her senior year.  She also sang with student combos, including It's a Trap, a rock and blues quartet featuring guitarist Max Kulicke (of the Twin Cities' acclaimed Carroll). 

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In 2010, Katia graduated with a major in Psychology, and a minor in Theatre, and pursued a career as an actor and theatre arts educator. She also joined Late Night Menu, a co-ed a cappella group led by award-winning vocal percussionist, Andrew Berkowitz (Six Appeal). She co-composed and directed "Zombie High School," an a cappella musical with Late Night Menu for the 2010 MN Fringe Festival, which was named "Best Musical" by FringeFamous.com. Katia was also the group's featured soloist in their audition for NBC's "The Sing-off."  After the group disbanded in 2011, she performed occasionally in duos and as a featured soloist at events across the Twin Cities. She was also regularly invited to sing for special events "back home" in Sacramento, CA, as well as in Boulder, CO, and Seattle, WA.

In 2010, Katia graduated with a major in Psychology, and a minor in Theatre, and pursued a career as an actor and theatre arts educator. She also joined Late Night Menu, a co-ed a cappella group led by award-winning vocal percussionist, Andrew Berkowitz (Six Appeal). She co-composed and directed "Zombie High School," an a cappella musical with Late Night Menu for the 2010 MN Fringe Festival, which was named "Best Musical" by FringeFamous.com. Katia was also the group's featured soloist in their audition for NBC's "The Sing-off."  After the group disbanded in 2011, she performed occasionally in duos and as a featured soloist at events across the Twin Cities. She was also regularly invited to sing for special events "back home" in Sacramento, CA, as well as in Boulder, CO, and Seattle, WA.

In spring 2013, after realizing how little music was in her life, Katia decided to make a change--and pursue her dream of singing professionally. She recorded her demo at Microbus Studios with her father at his Seattle, WA. She also began doing studio work with Organica Productions and Essential Sessions Studios, and joined the Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network (TCCAN; Marketing Committee Lead; performing member), a performance group dedicated to honoring the New York-style Cabaret tradition of storytelling through song. She also performed out-of-state with Red Dog Zen (Seattle, WA), and Global Soul Experience (Boulder, CO).

With Global Soul Experience, at Conor O'Neill's, Boulder, CO, Dec. 2013 (From right, Janis Kelly, Katia Cardenas, Emily Williams)

Katia began hosting the Vocalist Night at Jazz Central Studios in 2014which was created to spotlight established singers, as well as up-and-coming vocalists from the Twin Cities. After appearing on stage at the world-renowned Dakota Jazz Club in late 2014, she was invited to sing for the grand opening of Vieux Carré (formerly The Artist Quarter) in July 2015. Earlier in 2015, Katia released a single with local hip-hop artists, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, and developed tribute shows to honoring her idols Ella Fitzgerald and Carole King

In 2016, Katia recorded and released her debut EP, "I'll Be Seeing You," a self-produced, seven track EP recorded at Ant Recording Studios, mixed by Wondertone Productions. The CD is available for download on iTunesCD Baby, and Amazon Music, or you can stream it on Spotify, Apple Music, YoutubeMusic and more!

Summer 2016, she co-curated and performed in the inaugural "Singer's Scat-Off" at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, which featured 5 other local vocalists, including Jason Peterson DeLaire, and later appeared on the Main Stage of the 2017 Twin Cities Jazz Fest. She also joined Casablanca Orchestra, a nationally renowned touring show band, and formed Jazz Alley, a vocalist-led jazz group featuring Twin Cities vocalists Maryann Sullivan and Sarah Greer

Specializing in jazz, soul, and r&b, Katia is a gifted vocalist with a passion for bringing energy and soul to her performance. She brings emotional authenticity to every song, and strives to bring people together through the universal experience of music. Her influences include Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Carole King and Eva Cassidy, to name a few. She is currently performing across the Twin Cities, under her own name, with some of this town's top jazz and r&b instrumentalists. 

Katia is passionate about creating community around the arts and has engaged with numerous local artist networks including Jazz Central Studios, Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network (TCCAN), Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education, and Minnesota Music Coalition. As an actor and arts administrator, she also works with local theater companies Teatro Del Pueblo, Pangea World Theater and TigerLion Arts. The people she’s met through the Twin Cities arts and music community are a huge part of where she is today; they are a constant inspiration, and reminder to pursue her dreams.

Katia Cardenas is currently available for booking clubs, weddings, private events, festivals and special appearances.  Katia periodically posts new videos and tracks on Youtube or Soundcloud, and sends out newsletters about upcoming events, and posts regularly on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Subscribe to Katia's newsletter (below), and follow her on social media!