We Have Voice is a collective of 14 musicians, performers, scholars, and thinkers from different generations, races, ethnicities, cultures, abilities, gender identities, economic backgrounds, religious beliefs and affiliations. Together, they are determined to engage in transformative ways of thinking and being in their creative professional world, while being ingrained in an inclusive and intersectional analysis.
- WHV’s mission is to create initiatives that actively enrich our performing arts community.
- Our collective has neither the ability nor the intention to involve itself in disputes between individuals.
- Our focus is to bring awareness to issues of inequity, including but not limited to sexual harassment and bullying, and to shift the cultural landscape within our community to foster awareness, inclusion, and the creation of safe(r) spaces for all.
We Have Voice Collective: Fay Victor, Ganavya Doraiswamy, Imani Uzuri, Jen Shyu, Kavita Shah, Linda May Han Oh, María Grand, Nicole Mitchell, Okkyung Lee, Rajna Swaminathan, Sara Serpa, Tamar Sella, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tia Fuller
Photos by Heather Sten
Called “artistically complete” (New York Times), vocalist/composer Fay Victor hones a unique vision for vocalists’ role in jazz and improvised music. Victor has released eight critically acclaimed recordings as leader, featured in publications such as Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Time Out New York, and Downbeat. She has performed with musicians such as William Parker, Roswell Rudd, Nicole Mitchell, Archie Shepp, Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, Darius Jones and Tyshawn Sorey. Victor was the 2017 Herb Albert/Yaddo Fellow in Music Composition, and a 2010 MusicOmi Fellow. Her upcoming album “Wet Robots” (May 2018) will be released on Esp-Disk with SoundNoiseFUNK.
Vocalist, scholar, and multi-instrumentalist Ganavya has carved a niche for herself at the nexus of South Indian vocal styles and contemporary music. She has been featured on various projects, notably on the Quincy Jones produced Tocororo, which hit #1 on jazz charts. She has worked alongside musicians from Placido Domingo to Zakir Hussain, who have all influenced her work. Ganavya holds graduate degrees in performance (Berklee College of Music), and ethnomusicology (UCLA). She is currently doing her PhD (Harvard), studying Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry. Hailed as “extraordinary” (DownBeat) and “most enchanting” (NPR), Ganavya’s highly anticipated debut album, Aikyam: Onnu is to be released soon.
Imani Uzuri is an award-winning vocalist, composer, librettist and improviser called “a postmodernist Bessie Smith” by The Village Voice. Raised in rural North Carolina, she creates interdisciplinary ritual performances, sound installations and compositions featured at international venues including Villa La Pietra, Lincoln Center, MoMA, The Public Theater and Park Avenue Armory. She has collaborated with diverse artists including Herbie Hancock, Carrie Mae Weems and Robert Ashley. She is a 2018 commissioned composer for Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Uzuri is also currently composing her first contemporary chamber opera entitled Hush Arbor and a forthcoming large music work celebrating the Black Madonna. www.imaniuzuri.com
2016 Doris Duke Artist, Fulbright scholar, multilingual vocalist-composer-instrumentalist-dancer Jen Shyu is “one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music” (The Nation). Born in Peoria, Illinois, to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrants, she was the first female and vocalist as bandleader on Pi Recordings, 2017 DownBeat Rising Star Female Vocalist, produced 7 albums. A Stanford graduate, she’s performed her music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her acclaimed album Song of Silver Geese (Pi 2017) was NY Times’ “Best Albums of 2017.” Her solo Nine Doors was one of NY Times’ “5 Standout Shows” (2018).
Kavita Shah is a vocalist, composer, and lifelong New Yorker who makes work in deep engagement with the jazz idiom while addressing and advancing its global sensibilities. Hailed for her “amazing dexterity for musical languages” (NPR), Kavita incorporates ethnographic research on diverse folk music traditions into her music. Her projects include “Visions” (2014, co-produced by Lionel Loueke), the interdisciplinary work “Folk Songs of Naborea: a song-cycle for seven voices” (premiered in 2017 at the Park Avenue Armory), and “Interplay” (2018) in duet with bassist François Moutin. Kavita regularly performs her music at major concert halls, festivals, and clubs on six continents. www.kavitashahmusic.com
Linda May Han Oh is an NYC based bassist/composer who has performed with Pat Metheny, Kenny Barron, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Terri Lyne Carrington and Geri Allen. Malaysian-born Australian-raised, she has received an ASCAP award, 2nd place at BASS2010, an honorary mention at the 2009 Monk Competition, a 2010 Bell Award, and was the 2012 Downbeat Critic’s Poll Bass “Rising Star.” She was a 2017 Jerome Foundation Fellow. Linda has composed for large/small ensembles, film and also teaches at the New School. “Her innovative range and stellar improvisations have made [her] one of the most dynamic rising stars in jazz today.” (The Wall Street Journal)
María Grand is a saxophonist, composer, educator, and vocalist; she is based in New York and has performed in projects including musicians such as Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Jen Shyu, Steve Lehman, Aaron Parks, etc. María writes and performs her original compositions with her ensemble, DiaTribe; her debut EP “TetraWind” was picked as “one of 2017’s best debuts” by the NYCJazzRecord. The NYT calls her “an engrossing young tenor saxophonist with a zesty attack and a solid tonal range”, while Vijay Iyer says she is “a fantastic young saxophonist, virtuosic, conceptually daring, with a lush tone, a powerful vision, and a deepening emotional resonance.”
Nicole Mitchell is an award-winning creative flutist, composer, bandleader, poet and educator. Her music celebrates contemporary African American culture by “creating visionary worlds through music.” The former first woman president of Chicago’s AACM, she is the founder of Black Earth Ensemble, a multi-generational and gender-balanced group celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018. Mitchell’s Afrofuturist Mandorla Awakening project was highlighted as the #1 Jazz Album of 2017 by the New York Times and she is a 2018 recipient of the Champion of New Music award from the American Composers Forum. Mitchell is a Professor of Music at UC Irvine.
Okkyung Lee is a cellist, composer, and improviser who moves freely between of artistic disciples and contingencies. Since moving to New York in 2000 she has worked in disparate contexts as a solo artist and collaborator with creators in a wide range of disciplines. A native of South Korea, Lee has taken a broad array of inspirations—including noise, improvisation, jazz, western classical, and the traditional and popular music of her homeland—and used them to forge a highly distinctive approach. Her curiosity and a determined sense of exploration guide the work she has made in disparate contexts.
Rajna Swaminathan is an acclaimed mrudangam artist and composer. She tours regularly with several renowned Indian classical musicians and dancers. Since 2011, she has been collaborating with eminent musicians in New York’s jazz and creative music scene, including Vijay Iyer, Miles Okazaki, and Amir ElSaffar. Rajna leads the ensemble RAJAS, which collectively explores new textural and improvisational horizons at the nexus of multiple musical perspectives. Rajna is also active as a composer-performer for dance and theatre works, and regularly teaches workshops on the South Indian rhythmic perspective. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Music at Harvard University.
Lisbon, Portugal native, Sara Serpa is a singer, composer, improviser who implements a unique instrumental approach to her vocal style. Recognized for her distinctive wordless singing, Serpa has been immersed in the field of jazz, improvised and experimental music since first arriving in New York in 2008. Described by JazzTimes magazine as “a master of wordless landscapes” and by the New York Times as “a singer of silvery poise and cosmopolitan outlook,” her music draws from a broad variety of inspirations including literature, film, visual arts, history and nature. As a leader, she has released eight albums; the latest being “Close Up” with Erik Friedlander and Ingrid Laubrock. www.saraserpa.com
Tamar Sella is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Harvard University, engaged in research in both Israel/Palestine and the United States. In Israel/Palestine, she works on music and Mizrahi cultural thought, national narratives, and cultural hegemony. Her dissertation is on the social politics and history of contemporary Yemeni-Jewish music and its unheard archives. In the U.S., she works on vocal aesthetics in jazz and creative improvised music in relation to gender, race, and sexuality. Tamar is also a vocalist who has directed graduate student ensembles at Harvard, and continues to craft her own practices of songwriting and improvisation.
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington has recorded and toured with jazz luminaries, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, David Murray, Cassandra Wilson, Esperanza Spalding and countless others. She made history as the first woman to win a GRAMMY® Award in the Jazz Instrumental category for Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, a re-imagining of the Duke Ellington classic. Her female driven Mosaic Project CD’s have enjoyed critical acclaim, as well as her productions of Dianne Reeves’ Beautiful Life and Murray, Allen, Carrington tribute to Ornette Coleman, Perfection. She is currently Zildjian Chair in Performance at Berklee College of Music, where she holds an honorary doctorate.
As an accomplished educator, performer and Mack Avenue Recording artist, Tia Fuller has received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College and Master’s degree in Music from University of Colorado at Boulder. Fuller has been the featured saxophonist touring with Beyonce’s All-Female band from 2006-2010. Fuller has received numerous accolades as a bandleader and has recorded five albums, four which are on the Mack Avenue Record label. May 25, 2018 marks the release of her latest album, Diamond Cut. As a devoted educator, she holds a full professorship teaching at the Berklee College of Music, and continue to perform with Ralph Peterson and Terri Lyne Carrington to name a few.