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Musician Spotlight

Kavita Shah

Kavita Shah

USA / Cape Verde

Kavita Shah is a vocalist, composer, polyglot, and lifelong New Yorker. Her projects are global in scope, blending modern jazz, new music, and the folkloric traditions she researches. She speaks nine languages and holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Harvard and a Master’s in Jazz Voice from Manhattan School of Music. Shah is especially passionate about the music of Cape Verde (Cabo Verde), an archipelago off the coast of West Africa that is home to a rich Afro-Portuguese music culture. Her 2023 album, "Cape Verdean Blues," a collaboration with the country's master musicians, is the culmination of seven years of immersion and ethnographic research on the island of São Vicente.

Originally recorded by Cape Verdean singer Boy Gé Mendes in 1997, “Joia” (Jewel) is a tribute to Cape Verdean women. Shah’s version features the legendary guitarist Bau, who worked regularly with the late Cesaria Evora, Cape Verde’s best-known singer and Shah’s greatest inspiration. “Your kindness is like honey,” Shah sings, “It creates melody and fantasy in my spirit / Give me your love, make my world a happy place / Take me with you so I can feel your warmth.”

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Women of the World

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