City, State, etc.:
New York City
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Kavita Shah brings to American jazz disparately far-flung but often ultimately related elements from the music of India, Brazil, and Mali.
Things that need to be said
"Kavita Shah has set forth on a beautiful journey into uncharted waters. Her songwriting and her voice merge centuries and continents into music which touches antiquity and leads into the future in the same moment."
- Robert Sadin, Grammy award-winning producer
"Kavita Shah is a masterful vocalist with a deep, personal connection to the music."
- Sheila Jordan, vocalist & NEA Jazz Master
"Kavita is a musician's singer. She thinks like an instrumentalist, always taking risks and searching for new levels of understanding. Her music defies categorization."
- Steve Wilson, jazz saxophonist
A “breathtakingly beautiful” new voice in contemporary music (Downbeat Magazine), vocalist/composer Kavita Shah has been praised by NPR for her “amazing dexterity for musical languages.” A native New Yorker of Indian origin fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French, Shah incorporates her in-depth knowledge of diverse cultural traditions into her jazz-based repertoire, placing seemingly eclectic songs, instruments, and artists in dialogue with one another.
Hailed by Downbeat Magazine as the "Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist" (2012) and winner of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award (2013), Ms. Shah joined forces with guitar virtuoso Lionel Loueke to co-produce her debut album VISIONS (Inner Circle Music/Naïve Records), released in 2014 to great critical acclaim. Combining the traditional sounds of the Indian tabla and West African kora with a jazz quintet, VISIONS--which also features special guests Loueke (guitar/vocals), Steve Wilson (saxophone/flute), and Rogério Boccato (percussion)--was dubbed “daring and ambitious" (Jazzwise UK), a “sparkling debut" (Boston Globe), “stunning” (Aquarian Weekly), and Best Vocal & Debut Album of 2014 (Will Hermes, Rolling Stone).
Ms. Shah grew up in Manhattan, studying classical piano from age 5 and performing regularly at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center from age 10 as a member of the award-winning Young People's Chorus of NYC. She was a semifinalist in the 2011 Voicingers International Jazz Competition held in Zory, Poland, and has since toured extensively across North America and Europe. Ms. Shah has been a featured artist at such prestigious venues as NYC's Winter Jazz Fest, Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center, Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Joe's Pub, Iridium, Paris' Duc des Lombards, LA's Blue Whale, Vermont Jazz Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rubin Museum, and National Jazz Museum in Harlem. She is also an active member of the New York scene, performing regularly at 55 Bar, Bar Next Door, and Cornelia Street Café. She has collaborated with NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, Peter Eldridge, Steve Wilson, Lionel Loueke, Greg Osby, François Moutin, Yacouba Sissoko, Stephen Cellucci, Rajna Swaminathan, and Samir Chatterjee.
In addition to the VISIONS project, Ms. Shah leads the Brazil trio, a jazz quintet, and co-leads a duo project with the French bassist François Moutin. She regularly collaborates with contemporary composers and has premiered over 12 works in ensembles ranging from chamber groups to big band to jazz philharmonic. She is a member of the Steve Newcomb Orchestra ("Caterpillar Chronicles," Listen/Hear Collective 2012), and is the lead voice for tabla virtuoso Samir Chatterjee's project "Rabi Thakur."
Ms. Shah received her Master's in Jazz Voice from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Steve Wilson, and Jim McNeely. She holds a B.A. from Harvard College in Latin American Studies, where she received the Cultural Agents Thesis Prize and the Kenneth D. Maxwell Prize in Brazilian Studies for her ethnomusicology research on contemporary Afro-Brazilian music and politics.
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