RUDY CALVO / Presenter Soul Radio USA
Rudy Calvo rose up from humble roots in Costa Rica to a star-studded Southern California dream life. Over the course of a career just under four decades, the name “Calvo” has come to represent three things: artful, outside the box make-up application to celebrities of stage, screen and music and a encyclopedic knowledge of Soul and Pop music,
Images from what is now known as The Rudy Calvo Collection have been utilised in a myriad of historical preservation projects.
What initially began as a hobby has mushroomed into a full-fledged archival service recorded by the BBC for the TV special “Top Ten `60s Soul,” the biography series “Black Legend” based on the life of Diana Ross, and a special based on the legends of the dance world called “Queens of Disco” in which he was interviewed about Sylvester and Grace Jones. These also led to Rudy becoming an astute U.S. correspondent for the U.K. soul music magazine “In The Basement” and his own internet show called Rudy Calvo’s SHEBANG!, on SOUL Radio USA.
Stateside, pieces of his collection have been in books such as “Supreme Glamour,” “Black Hollywood Tragedies,” “Turn Up The Radio,” “California Soul” and “MJ: The Life & Genius of Michael Jackson,” the booklets and covers for scores of CD reissues and compilations for record companies that include Universal Music Group, Warner Bros., Capitol, Verve, Real Gone Music, ACE, Light in the Attic, MCA and Motown (which he is considered an expert).
In 2010 he produced, wrote liner notes and provided images for the CD “With Love” by Sisters Love (music that sat in Motown’s vault inexplicably unreleased for 38 years).
Rudy’s expertise escorted him to such prestigious related work as being brought in as a Historical Consultant on 2014’s Academy Award winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” as well as contributing photos to primo music magazines such as Rolling Stone, Mojo and Waxpoetics, and ABC’s number one hit show “Dancing With The Stars,” “Oprah’s Master Class,” TV-One’s popular Black Music documentary series “Unsung” (on artists ranging from James Brown, Isaac Hayes and Sly & The Family Stone). Some of Calvo’s images have been seen on several broadcasts of “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” induction ceremonies, an event where Rudy had also been present years before – as a make-up artist/guest of Gospel/R&B empress, Mavis Staples. Most recently some of his images were used on the set of the hit FX show “Snowfall.”
Calvo’s painterly touch with make-up – a gift that has taken him to the far reaches of Europe, Latin America, Canada and Asia – has graced celebrated female and male faces ranging from Hollywood royalty Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Angela Bassett and Queen Latifah to singing stars Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole and Jill Scott. As well as jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and country superstar Garth Brooks to iconic legends Nancy Wilson, Ronald Isley, Etta James, Smokey Robinson and Eartha Kitt…among many more. His work has appeared on the prestigious covers of Vanity Fair, Essence, Latina and Ebony, and in the pages of Vogue, Life, Italian Moda, In Style, Allure, Elle and People, album covers, music videos and numerous TV shows.
Regarding his precision approach to faces of the famous as “The Calvo Canvas,” Rudy muses, “Make-up and art are based on similar principles. My canvas is the naked face on which I build color, creating shapes, shadows and illusions. For me, make-up and art are as one. It’s about creating a unique and very personal vision. Creation originates from within – a spiritual process wherein I listen to my inner voice and am guided in my choice of colors. I want my clients to embrace the transformations resulting from make-up artistry as well as feel free enough to express their innermost beauty to the world. Make-up later became my excuse to be around these entertainers I loved.”
Currently Calvo is preparing his own first book, “Songbirds,” paying homage to legendary female vocalists and showcasing his unique make-up techniques, vintage photos and memorabilia from his collection. There is also an upcoming documentary in the works entitled “Beauty & The Beat.” He also continues to express his artistic spirit in his artwork which is taking on a life of its own.