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“Amikaeyla’s voice is like listening to velvet waterfalls...” MTV
roclaimed as one of the “purest contemporary voices...” by National Public Radio, powerhouse Amikaeyla embraces the best of many types of music. Her sultry sound, as described by MTV, is “like listening to velvet waterfalls”, and her soulful, RootsJazz flavor captures the listener with dynamic passion & enchanting sincerity. While the dazzling vocalist from the Washington, DC area draws on a dizzying array of influences, from Bel Canto, Funk & Bossa Nova to Blues, Sacred Chanting and Soul, her sensibility is pure Jazz. “I pull my inspiration from my ancestry, and place them in the context of Jazz & World music because it feels like home...” says the newly transplanted Bay area singer. Growing up in the Washington Metropolitan, Midwest and southern states, she honors her heritage by artfully weaving elements of each of these into her artistic designs. The birth of her love for music came from her family. Both of her parents as well as her brother are trained musicians – her mother, a classically trained pianist, her brother and father, both percussionist who also play guitar, bass, and French horn. “There was always music in the house” she recollects “and the game we used to play while we washed the dishes was to see who could write the best verse to the song we were making up on the spot”. She began her training at 4 years of age, studying classical piano and quickly started captivating audiences with her talent in venues with the National symphony as well as in theatrical and musical productions. She then added to her repertoire training on the viola, western & Indian flute, dulcimer, and later, on a multitude of percussion instruments from around the world such as djembe, bata, conga, tabla, taiko, & timbale.
“...best of all, Amikaeyla’s voice, sinuous and spirited by turns...” Mike Joyce, Washington Post
uided by her love of jazz, Amikaeyla threw herself into a multiplicity of musical contexts as the lead singer for a 14piece West African band, a horn-laden 10-piece R&B combo, a 12-piece classical south Indian ensemble, a Celtic sextet, a straight-ahead jazz quintet, and an Americana folk trio. She has studied, recorded with, and shared the stage with many award winning artists, including Take 6, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Baba Olatunji, Mickey Hart, Gil Scott Heron, Wyclef, Ubaka Hill, Ferron, Vicki Randall, Linda Tillery, Chris Williamson, and Pete Seeger. Her strong academic interest in Sacred Ethnomusicology led her to study with many spiritual and musical masters from many different cultures, and she was invited to perform in India at the Inaugural Festival of Sacred Chanting and Singing for the commemoration of the Golden Buddha at the request and invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Before moving to the East Bay in 2007 Amikaeyla recorded her debut album Mosaic (2004), which received national acclaim, and earned her eight Washington Area Music Association Awards, or Wammys, including Best Jazz Vocalist, Best Jazz Recording, Best Urban Contemporary Vocalist, Best World Music Vocalist, Best World Music Recording, and Best Debut Album. Now she’s working on her newest solo album entitled Being in Love, with award-winning, world class players like harmonica ace Howard Levy, member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; world-renowned cellist Eugene Friesen, from the Paul Winter Consort; world percussion greats Glen Velez, Michael Spiro, and John Santos; the celebrated drumming duo Peter Michael Escovedo and his sister Sheila E; and bass virtuoso and Best New Artist Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding.
“...an innate ability to interpret and convey her musical objectives with such infinite grace and authenticity...” Jayne Sanchez - KCSM FM 91 Jazz Oasis
ollowing a tragic near-fatal hit & run automobile accident in 1992 just before entering medical school, Amikaeyla found the most powerful form of healing – and that was through music. While suffering from 3rd degree burns, she found “it was the only thing that would alleviate the pain. It (music) could never be off, and there were only certain types of music that would help” stated the artist. It was through this transforming experience that Amikaeyla founded and is currently the Executive Director of ICAHSI, the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute. For over 15 years, ICAHSI, in collaboration & partnerships with government, health, & non-profit environmental and social justice organizations, has created Music-Spirit Health Conferences for at-risk populations of women and girls of color, conducted Hope and Healing retreats for women affected with cancer, and held concerts & in-home services for terminally ill patients in hospitals and transition homes, bringing together artists and healers of all forms and from all specialties to promote healing and wellness through the arts & activism. Her work has been utilized and implemented by the US Consulate General’s Cultural Affairs office, UNHCR, Caritas, National CityDance, & Intersections International. Her Music As Medicine - Healing with an Artful Purpose programming - a multi-faceted therapeutic approach through music, movement, & theater modalities - has taken her around the world as a Goodwill Cultural Ambassador to Cuba, China, Taiwan, Africa, India to work with at-risk youth and children, and since last fall, she has been to Israel, Beirut, Amman,Damascus, & Ramalla in the Middle East to work with Iraqi & Palestinian refugee children, hoping to aid in alleviating pain and trauma caused by the war.
"beautiful singing and flawless production...” -Mal Sharpe, KCSM
mikaeyla was named DC’s best female composer in 2006 & 2008 and was recently honored with first prize for Best World Music Composition from the 2010-2011 Maryland State Arts Council. She has performed in many off-broadway music theater productions with highlights such as the lead in Lady Sings the Blues as Billie Holiday, & Jesus Christ Superstar as Mary Magdalene. She has also produced, written and directed for several theater companies and her continued work in Radio, TV, & Film has lead to appearances on PBS (in “30 Good Minutes” - a show about spiritual journeys); HBO & Sundance Film Festival (featured in “No More” - a movie speaking out against Hate Crimes); and a regular on NPR’s show segment for The American Academy for the Advancement of Science. Her musical theater troupe known as Children’s Cultural Connection has toured nationally and internationally performing her live weekly children’s edutainment TV series entitled Our Wonderful World!, a 30 minute cultural learning eco-mystery adventure with it’s premiere season currently in production. She has just completed an off-broadway production which toured nationally in the fall of 2010 serving as the composer & sound designer for No Place Called Home, a new play intended to shine light on the Iraqi refugee crisis. Her latest albums - Lush ~ Live from the Kennedy Center; Uncertain Odyssey ~Songs & Stories of the journey of a refugee; & Being In Love will hit the streets in the Summer of 2012. Be it through her adult, children’s or healing programming, Amikaeyla is sure to inspire. A dynamic performer with heart, soul, international appeal, and vision, it’s clear that Amikaeyla is on the rise and in the midst of an amazing musical journey.
“...an innate ability to interpret and convey her musical objectives with such infinite grace and authenticity...” Jayne Sanchez - KCSM FM 91 Jazz Oasis “..one of the purest contemporary voices...” National Public Radio “Amikaeyla’s voice is like listening to velvet waterfalls...” MTV “An amazing and magical performer!” Pete Seeger “...best of all, Amikaeyla’s voice, sinuous and spirited by turns...” Mike Joyce, Washington Post "beautiful singing and flawless production...” -Mal Sharpe, KCSM
Be ing in Lo v e Coming Summer of 2012
Lush Live at the Kennedy Center, DC Coming Fall of 2012
M osa ic Debut Album - Digitally Remastered Available now!
Skyla rk Acoustic EP - Digitally Remastered Available now
To Eva Wi t h Love Live at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, CA Now Available at Amazon
Oshun Gaia Ancient Indigenous Chants & Original Songs from global traditions and spiritualities. Available Now!
Feet Of Clay Full of Range & Diversity from Soulfull Jazz to fast-paced funk. Available now!
Holy Guaca mole Creative Original & Traditional Childrenâ€™s Songs Available now!
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email@example.com Publicity ~ Terri Hinte Promotion ~ Lisbet Tellefsen Management ~ Susan Callender Booking ~ GC Entertainment
Extended biography for singer, songwriter, & recording artist Amikaeyla