Hailed by Downbeat Magazine as the "Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist" (2012) and winner of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award (2013), Kavita Shah is gaining a reputation as a visionary young singer, composer, and arranger. A native New Yorker of Indian origin fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French, Ms. Shah incorporates elements of Indian, Brazilian, and Malian music into her jazz-based repertoire. Her debut CD VISIONS–produced by Benin-born jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke–combines the sounds of the traditional Indian tablas and West African kora with those of a jazz quintet.
"Visions," which includes special guests Loueke (guitar, vocals), Steve Wilson (saxophone, flute), and Rogerio Boccato (percussion), was released to critical acclaim in the US & Canada on May 27, 2014 on Greg Osby's Inner Circle Music label. (It will be released September 15, 2014 in Europe & Japan on the French label Naïve).
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 she has since performed as a leader in France, Belgium, and Germany. She plays frequently in the New York metro area at such venues as National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Rubin Museum, Cornelia Street Café, Bar Next Door, 55 Bar, Shapeshifter Lab, Minton's Playhouse, NuBlu, Nuyorican Poets Café, University Club, Harvard Club, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and in the greater Northeast at The Kennedy Center (DC) and Vermont Jazz Center. Ms. Shah has had the pleasure of collaborating with such artists as Sheila Jordan, Peter Eldridge, Steve Wilson, Lionel Loueke, Linda Oh, Gilad Hekselman, Rogerio Boccato, Pierre de Bethmann, Yacouba Sissoko, Stephen Cellucci, and Samir Chatterjee, among others.
In addition to the "Visions" project, Ms. Shah leads the Brazil Trio, a jazz quintet, and the 3rd World Orquestra, a 13-piece ensemble with tabla, kora, rhythm section, and strings. She regularly works 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 was the recipient of 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.