Rocky Riobo is a queer-femme, mixed-race, hearing-impaired, singer, performer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and teacher. She is skilled and charismatic, enthusiastic and joyful.
Riobo created Rocky and the Gems to present a vintage jazz experience - an elevated music expertise, a memorable show, a resurgence of a Black American music form. She also plays keys in The Relevators, a new group serving Fraser Valley Beach Boys Punk.
The icing on the cake...
About Rocky: 20+ years private music instruction. Diploma in Jazz Voice from Capilano University. Highly decorated gold medalist in Lions and Kiwanis Music Festivals. Recipient 2 years in a row of Paula Quick Award in Chilliwack BC. 15+ years studying multiple instruments. 4 years starring in local musicals. Professional working musician since 2018, songwriter, composer, producer, band manager, booker, advertising, and content creation. Private music instructor to ages 4-70+ since 2019.
Interviewed by award-winning Mental Health advocate Bernadine Fox of Vancouver Co-Op Radio for her show ReThreading Madness re: VOAF, and had new single featured on air Oct 2023
Most notable performances:
Rocky and the Gems logo unveiling show - Portside Pub July 2022
White Rock Jazz Festival - Summer 2022
Lulu Island Winery Influencer Event - Summer 2022
Composed, produced, rehearsed, and recorded original score for Mrs. Gay Vancouver - Winter 2022
A Very Jazzy Rocky Riobo Christmas - Sold out hometown show - December 2022
Forest Echoes Music Festival - Summer 2023
Honda Festival of Lights - Summer 2023
An Evening of Rocky and the Gems (Live recorded/videoed performance for youtube) - Early 2023
In the beginning ...
Rocky started singing lessons at the age of 5 in Chilliwack BC, under the direction of Paula Quick, at the Chilliwack Academy of Music. She has starred in performances on stages and in festivals all over the province as a solo performer, in choirs, with dance groups, and in countless musicals. A highly decorated performer, Rocky was a household name in her hometown for her unforgettable performance of Donkey in the CSOPA production, “Shrek the Musical” for which she received the “Rookie of the Year” award.
"Rocky truly shines with an inspiring level of passion, and has the perfect balance of personality and skill"
- Kris Schulz, Horizon School of Music
“We love booking Rocky Riobo, you can always expect a fun, exciting performance that all ages will love. In a world where people want a unique experience, this is the perfect show for that.”
-Live Acts Canada
Throughout her teenage years, Rocky continued singing in vocal jazz groups and starring in school musicals while also studying piano, French horn, and trombone. Her high-school jazz band, under the direction of Janine Webster, won a coveted showcase spot at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival because of the “solid playing, with great enjoyment” of the group. Her vocal jazz group, under the direction of Shane Monkman, also won top honours at that same festival.
At 15, as part of her International Baccalaureate, she taught herself to play ukulele, which remains her most cherished instrument- next to vocals, of course!
In 2014, Rocky was accepted into the Jazz Studies program at Capilano University, where she received a Diploma in Voice Studies. Studying under the great talents of Steve Maddock, Mary Jo Bishop, Bill Coon, and Brad Turner, Rocky is eternally indebted to all that she learned in her time at Cap. It was in her new home in Vancouver (a dream come true) that she wrote her first EP.
"...full of talent and charm!"
- Music Heals Charitable Foundation
"Rocky Riobo is a breath of fresh air!"
- Marq DeSouza, Trees Organic Coffee
Rocky and Morty’s Mixtape (2018), produced by Ryley Pitts, is a playful, innocent debut for the artist; an honest collection of simple tunes written while trying to navigate life after the death of a dear friend.
In 2018 Rocky was chosen to perform in a RAW artists showcase, which was Rocky’s biggest show at that time and, with her name up in lights, Rocky commanded a packed audience at Vancouver’s own Celebrities nightclub.
After years of performing solo, Rocky began to miss the camaraderie of performing with others so returned to her jazz roots in 2020, forming a duo with Vancouver guitarist Kelly Brown. The two met while teaching at Horizon School of Music and the chemistry between the two musicians is palpable- “[Rocky] never does anything quite the same. It keeps me listening. She always keeps me on my toes.” Not long after, they brought Greg Coles on board to play upright bass and Scott Flynn on the drums.
- Storm City Coffee
While classic jazz standards are Rocky’s bread and butter, she holds a big place in her heart for good old fashioned rock and roll. If you’re lucky, you’ll find Rocky doing her solo act, singing and playing keys and guitar- occasionally uke too if the mood is right- in English bars and quiet cafes.
Rocky currently lives in a downtown Vancouver studio, thoroughly enjoys teaching music, and fills her free time with skateboarding and sipping tea with friends. She thrives on thrifty extravagance and baked goods, and puts her best effort into “content creating” although, if you’ve ever seen her on stage, you gotta know her heart lies in performing.
…and much to her surprise and delight an Instagram reel she made received over 10k views and is still growing