About Kavita Shah
"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 is a real, true musician. She's a great singer, but the way she writes music, she's not really thinking just about the voice. It sounds like she could be a horn player, a sax player."
- Lionel Loueke, Grammy award-winning guitarist & vocalist
Kavita Shah has been praised for her "amazing dexterity for musical languages" (NPR). Her album VISIONS, co- produced by renowned Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, combines a jazz quintet with the Indian tablas and West African kora to create a strikingly original sound all her own; it was dubbed a "sparkling debut" (Boston Globe), "breathtakingly beautiful" (Downbeat), "daring and ambitious" (Jazzwise UK), "stunning" (Aquarian Weekly), and Best Vocal & Debut Album of 2014 (Will Hermes, Rolling Stone).
VISIONS interweaves Shah's multicultural background (she's a native New Yorker of Indian descent fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French) with her wide-ranging musical tastes (reared on 90s hip-hop, Afro-Cuban music, and bossa nova, she studied jazz voice and classical piano) and her fascination with ethnomusicology (while at Harvard, she lived in Salvador da Bahia researching Afro-Brazilian musical movements). These eclectic experiences find their way into her rhythmically intoxicating duo with Lionel Loueke on Edil Pacheco/P.C. Pinheiro's "Oju Oba", Shah's composition "Moray" (named after the Incan archeological site), and her arrangements of Cesária Evora, Stevie Wonder, M.I.A, Tom Jobim, and Joni Mitchell.
"Kavita is a real, true musician," says co-producer and kindred spirit Loueke. "She's a great singer, but the way she writes music, she's not really thinking just about the voice. It sounds like she could be a horn player, a sax player. "
As for her own vision, Shah states: "I see myself as a cultural interlocutor. A singer can play an almost mystical role, connecting different elements on stage with an audience through the human voice, through words. My experience of diaspora has not exactly been linear, but more like a kaleidoscope, so musically, I wanted to combine different elements that I love in a way that may be surprising to others but makes sense to me. I hope that people find something familiar in my music that draws them in, but then discover something new that might change, even for a second, how they see the world."
Shah has performed at the Kennedy Center, Blue Note, Iridium, Jazz Standard, Joe's Pub, Winter Jazz Festival, Rochester Jazz Festival, Vermont Jazz Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, and Paris' Duc des Lombards. She also co-leads a duo with bassist François Moutin and has collaborated with Sheila Jordan, Peter Eldridge, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson, Lionel Loueke, Samir Chatterjee, Rogerio Boccato, and Yacouba Sissoko, in addition to contemporary composers Miho Hazama and Steve Newcomb. Named by Downbeat as Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist (2012), and recipient of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award (2013), Shah holds an M.M. in Jazz Voice from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor's in Latin American Studies from Harvard.