Bianca Mancinelli has been in love with music since as far back as she can remember. The Croton-on-Hudson resident was born in Rome, where her mother was an opera singer. Mancinelli, who has been writing, performing, and recording music for over two decades, is now the in-house producer for The Koop Studios in Irvington.
Mancinelli came to America when she was five years old and grew up in New York City. While music has always been an influential part of her life, she was also very drawn to science. Mancinelli attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she got her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics then continued at Stony Brook University where she received her master’s degree in astrophysics.
Mancinelli and her husband moved up to Croton in 2003 and raised their three children there. While Mancinelli’s kids were in school, her various volunteer positions included serving as the fundraising chair for the Croton-Harmon Education Foundation and teaching songwriting at the Croton Academy of the Arts. She also was an astronomy instructor in the Croton Harmon schools.
“There are these two parts of my life – science and the arts. For a long time the arts were there as a support and something that I did for fun,” says Mancinelli. As she got older and the kids grew up, music became more important to her. When she turned 35 in 2005, Mancinelli said she came to a turning point. “Music became a second career for me,” she says.
Mancinelli describes the music she creates as “a playful blend of sultry blues, spicy lyrics, and sophisticated funk.” Among her many local gigs were performances at the Bean Runner Cafe in Peekskill and the Winery at St. George in Mohegan Lake.
“Then the Covid pandemic hit and it was like a desert for art and music. In order to stay sane and keep in the game, I did a lot of recordings of songs I had been working on,” says Mancinelli.
In 2020 Mancinelli began to work with Koop Studio owners Sam Wagner (aka “Sammy Wags) and Matt Graff. The recording studio, located in a century-old mansion overlooking the Hudson River, features a 1,200-square-foot facility offering a range of audio services, including recording, production, mixing, mastering, podcasts, overdubs, voiceover, and video services.
When Mancinelli first started recording there, production was only done on a one-on-one basis and everybody wore a mask. “I was working with Sam and all the music we created was done virtually, which means we would have musicians send in tracks of their recordings rather than all come together and record live,” says Mancinelli.
The dearth of music during Covid prompted Mancinelli to start monthly private gigs at her home in 2021. “I have a large backyard space so from the beginning it was a very safe place and everyone I invited could come and stay far apart wearing masks,” she says. “At the end of each night we have one song where we encourage everyone to get up and sing and dance. The electricity of having the singers and audience joining together is just amazing.”
Called “Bianca Grooves with Friends,” the performances have featured her own music as well as other local singers and musicians (including Ossining urban folk/jazz singer and guitar player KJ Denhert and Briarcliff Manor keyboardist Clifford Carter, who has performed with James Taylor and Idina Menzel). Taking place the last Tuesday of every month at 8 p.m., the performances are streamed live via the Bianca Grooves Facebook page.
After Marcinelli had been co-producing her own music at The Koop for a while, the owners invited her to become the in-house producer in May 2022.
She began networking events at The Koop last July. “The first evening was an open house to provide people who hadn’t been to The Koop in a long time [because of Covid] with an opportunity to come see that we were still here and to explore what the newly expanded space looked like and what we had to offer,” she says. The Koop also hosted other networking events last October, December and March, each drawing 25 to 30 music professionals. The plan is to continue these networking events, called “Musicians Night Off,” on a quarterly basis.
Mancinelli says her favorite part of being a producer is seeing a raw musical piece turn into a final product. “It’s like watching a child grow. My job is to tease out from the artist what direction they want to go in – what arrangements, what instruments, and what mood they want, for example. The goal is to create something way beyond what they could have imagined,” she says.