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Mitzi has been singing and playing music for more than 30 years. She knew she wanted to be a singer at the age of four and discovered Billie Holiday at 11 realizing instantly that jazz was her music. Mitzi studied classical voice with Lorenzo D’enga (a.k.a. Mark Forest) in Los Angeles, jazz vocal style with composer and pianist Howlett Smith in LA, Jazz
performance at the Sydney Conservatory of Music and formal jazz guitar with Dan Balmer. She began studying piano in her youth and continues to study with Gordon
Lee of Portland, Oregon. For the past nine years, Mitzi has taught a Jazz Singers’ Workshop with beginner to advanced students at Portland Community College. For her
vocal students she designed and recorded a professional vocal exercise CD for men and women, which is available for sale at Lake Music. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from San Francisco State University, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota and a Professional Music Certificate from Portland Community College.
Mitzi is said to transport the audience with her distinctive alto voice, three octave range and storytelling phrasing. She has been a veteran of the Portland Jazz scene for more than a decade and performed widely in Australia. She also performed in the Netherlands with celebrated composer and pianist Amina Figarova. In her youth, she recorded back-up vocals for the Beach Boys in LA. Mitzi founded the prestigious Portland Jazz
Singer’s Foundation, which is dedicated to the performance and education of singers. The concert series has featured more than 200 singers and more than 500 shows since its inception in 2004. She performs regularly in Portland under the names Mitzi Zilka and the Green Dolphin Street Band, Mitzi Zilka and Mike Doolin Duo, and French Twist X3 (a retro pop/jazz trio). Mitzi is a native Oregonian. When she isn’t performing or teaching music, Mitzi enjoys hiking, writing fiction stories and screenplays, and spending time with her two sons. To learn more about Mitzi and her passion for music, please visit
“She not only has a great jazz voice, but also the words she writes to original
instrumental music are some of the best I’ve seen.”
— Peter Boe, two-time Grammy winner