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October 2023
Vol. 23, No. 1

Featured Stories

The Jazz Traveller… in her Own Words: Il Sogno Italiano

by Sacha BoutrosMay 2021

Sacha Boutros. Photo by Laura Bravo Mertz.

Entrance to Il Sogno Italiano.

Venue owner Sean Shoja.

Irving Flores at the piano.

To my friends old and new, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Sacha Boutros and I am the Jazz Traveller, an award-winning producer, composer, and recording artist of over 20 years traveling the globe to find all points that connect the soul through music.
Born and raised in San Diego and attending Cathedral Catholic High School and the University of San Diego, I played collegiate soccer and tennis, studying international business and marketing. It is here, in America’s finest city, I had my formative musical training in Bel Canto, piano, and sang in  church choirs growing up.
Following my bliss in April of 2018, I settled in Paris, in the multicultural neighborhood of Montmartre. Living the life of La Boheme, I found deeper meaning through music and, as Friedrick Nietzche once said, “An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris.” The year of Covid brought unmentionable hardships, which I suffered through a failed marriage that felt like the death of a more vulnerable and younger part of myself. This painful experience brought me back here for a sojourn—with Paris under quarantine, the sun of San Diego called.
Three years after moving abroad I found myself back here full circle and wondered, like Johnny Mandel would say, “where do you start?” Assessing the local environment, there was a growing need for artists to get back to work. How can I make a difference? There are so many amazing women in my industry that we often pair up and discuss the music business and how we can push through the glass ceiling imposed on us. A short rebranding of my former record label Diva Latina Productions, I founded a new one, Hear Me Roar Records and Hear Me Roar Entertainment for booking and events. Hear Me Roar, hear the ladies, our voice is present. There are so many talented artists in our city and I knew it was possible to give back to the community by delving into the music and creating opportunities for artists and listeners alike. As it just so happens that I am learning on a spiritual path—that coincidental dot connecting brings like-minded people together for the common good. When these gifts manifest it’s time to do what James and Linda Moody had taught me at a very young age: pass it on.
In February, I met Sean Shoja one rainy afternoon in the Gaslamp when Covid restrictions were beginning to ease. A restaurateur of over 25 years, he had lost one of his restaurants, Toscana Café & Wine Bar, during the pandemic shutdown. Simultaneously Shoja opened Il Songo Italiano (The Italian Dream) the week before the world went into a global lockdown. Shoja is a culture creator and community builder. He believes in the same principles I hold dear: to bring people together in interesting spaces to share food, music, art, and, of course, music. The meeting came on a referral from Santino Sgambelluri, a wonderful singer who performs every Friday with my dear friend Anthony Smith. Shoja asked me to sing for an evening and the more we discussed the possibilities of music we found we had the same vision of giving back to the community. Shoja shared with me a little bit of his personal story. Born in a war-torn Tehran, Iran he had emigrated to Canada through political asylum. Shortly afterward, he had a near-death experience that changed his perspective and set him on track for his true-life purpose: to connect people and make them happy. We had a wonderful conversation on the spiritual components of our lives and I, too, shared that I had also had a near-death experience. It seems we awaken for a brief moment, cracking open our own consciousness to our higher purpose as humans. It’s exciting when the universal energies are generous and serendipitous. I went to speak about singing one night and soon we were planning a weekly music program. The more Shoja spoke of his vision for what he wanted to create, I was on board and we began developing the program together. Shoja believes that music touches the heart and creates harmony. The world has suffered tremendously in the last year; it’s time to be joyful.
Yes, the world has gone through the wringer and it is time to celebrate life and be happy. That afternoon I became the entertainment director of Il Sogno Italiano and started implementing a new local arts plan for the community in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter downtown.
The roster at Il Sogno has more than filled up with amazing musicians from the San Diego community and we are so happy create a space to host them. Shoja purchased a grand piano and sound equipment, and we are slowly investing in improvements. Side note for our musical friends: no lugging your stuff to the gig, you just show up and do what you do best, play music and entertain! It feels amazing to build a team of people who want to do wonderful things together. I am a firm believer that when we stand together we rise together.
Our featured lineup includes Irving Flores, Whitney Shay, Ray Briz, Janet Hammer, Nathan Fry, LeLe on da Keys, Maria Contreras, Will Lyle, Anais Lund, Joe Amato, Santino Sgambelluri, Anthony Smith, Tommy Gannon, Charlie Arbelaez, Ian Harland, Rebecca Jade, Leonard Patton, Ignacio Arango, Robbie Breen, David de Alva, Franck Amsallem who comes to us from Paris and so many more wonderful artists and new artists that we have yet to discover. Please consult the Troubadour calendar for artists and dates.
I humbly ask for San Diego to please support live music and our endeavors to create joy and share through our local artistic talents. Let’s connect and eat and have fun together. Come to Il Sogno Italiano, where you can hear music seven nights a week and enjoy the the food and ambience.
Il Sogno Italiano
314 Fifth Ave
San Diego, Ca 92101
If you would like to submit your music to me for consideration send your links to
Coming home to San Diego has been a healing and beautiful experience thanks to the great pause. I will return to my home on the hill in Paris when the world settles into a new “normal.” In the words of Ira Gershwin, “I’ve been around the world in a plane.”
It has been a blessing to travel around the planet singing and sharing my gift on stages large and small, living a life of service. It is wonderful to connect with others growing into my being. It took me 22 years of searching to understand that what I was seeking was inside me all along. The best part of life are the gifts received when giving to others and, for me, this medium is building community around music.
To all of my peers, the musicians who make the world better and give breathe to life, you are the beat of my heart and here in San Diego we are all so blessed to have you. Thank you. My heart overflows with gratitude for all of you.
We are the creators of everything in our world—be positive, happy, and share your gifts. Shine my dear artist friends, it’s time for music.

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