Anna Borges, originally from Recife, Pernambuco, began her career in Brasília, singing in local nightclubs and theaters. She studied the guitar and enrolled in the Escola de Música de Brasília, where she studied voice with Jane Duboc and sang in choral groups, studying both classical and popular techniques. After many years working closely with Brazilian guitarist Agilson Alcântara, Anna moved to Boston, Massachusetts along with her father, who was stationed there as a vice-consul in the Brazilian Consulate. In Boston, she began a musical collaboration with Bill Ward, with whom she would start the band Receita de Samba. The band performs bossa nova and samba, and well as regional specialties such as forró, ijexá, and coco. Anna is also an event promoter for Brazilian music in the Boston area with her own Sounds of Brazil Anna Borges Productions.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/27/2020.
Qya Cristál is a singer, musician, and drag performer based in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is former Miss Gay USofA Massachusetts 2018, and 4th Runner up for Miss Gay USofA 2018, as well as the winner of the Boston Drag Idol 2019. She holds a degree from Berklee College of Music and has performed in venues across the North Eastern Drag community. She has put on her own one woman shows and performed at events in venues including House of La Rue, Provincetown and Jonathan Hawkins Richardson’s Broadway on the Beach at Crown & Anchor. Through her creative work, she seeks to share messages of love, peace, and acceptance, as well as to continue to show support for her LGBTQIA+ family and assert that Black/Trans/POC Lives Matter.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/05/2020.
Deeply rooted in Irish traditional music, Boston-based flute player/singer/composer Shannon Heaton has appeared on stages with duo Matt & Shannon Heaton, and with other traditional performers from around the world, including dancers Kieran Jordan and Kevin Doyle, Tokyo-based tricolor, and guitarist/singer Keith Murphy. As ambassador of the tradition, Shannon hosts the culture podcast Irish Music Stories, and her free Tune of the Month video series and instructional books cater to students of Irish music. Stretching from pure traditional music, Shannon also composes for winds, strings, and piano in various contexts. Heaton received a 2016 Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Live Ireland named her Female Artist of the Year in 2011 and 2010, and Irish American News named her 2009 Female Musician of the Year.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/24/2020.
A member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, performing songwriter Thea Hopkins calls her music Red Roots Americana. Thea has recorded multiple albums, and her EP Love Come Down was nominated for a 2019 Indigenous Music Award in the folk category. He song “Jesus Is On The Wire” was recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary in 2004 and 2010. She has performed internationally in venues including the Kennedy Center, LaMama Experimental Theatre in New York, the Tomaquag Museum in Rhode Island, and the Summertyne Americana Festival in the UK. Thea was a 2019 Native Launchpad Artist at the Western Arts Alliance and was a fellowship recipient from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. She was an artist at the Wichoie Ahiya Indigenous Singer Songwriter Intensive at the Banff Arts Centre. Thea has opened for musicians including David Bromberg, Larry Campbell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Amy Helm and John Lodge of the Moody Blues.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/22/2020.
Akua Naru is a Hip Hop artist, organizer, producer, activist, and scholar whose work centers social justice advocacy and community building. Her music theorizes the myriad experiences of Black women through rhyme along a sonic spectrum from Jazz to Soul. She is co-founder of the production/management company The Urban Era and has released multiple albums alongside a wide range of additional artistic content. She has recorded with artists including Tony Allen, Angelique Kidjo, Questlove, and Georgia Anne Muldrow. Akua has performed internationally in more than fifty countries across five continents with her six-piece band. In her social justice work, she has collaborated with numerous individuals and organizations globally in order to instigate change. Akua Naru was a Nasir Jones Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University (2018-19) and a Race & Media Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University (2019-2020).
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/24/2020.
Layth Sidiq is a violinist, composer and educator. Born in Iraq and raised in Jordan, Layth trained at the National Music Conservatory with Timur Ibrahimov, and later at the Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, U.K. He holds a BM from the Berklee College of Music as well as an MM from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute ,where he studied with artists including Danilo Perez and Terri Lyne Carrington. Layth has performed internationally with artists including Simon Shaheen, Javier Limon, and Jack Dejohnette, and has recorded on Grammy-nominated albums. He has performed as leader and sideman in venues including the Boston Symphony Hall and the Kennedy Center, and in 2018, he won second place in the Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition in Poland. Layth is the director of the Arab Music Ensemble at Tufts University and the Center for Arabic Culture’s Youth Orchestra Program and teaches at Simon Shaheen’s Arabic Music Retreat in Massachusetts.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/06/2020.
Shin-Yi Yang is a musician and educator based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She plays both guqin and guzheng, and is the founder of the Boston Guzheng Ensemble and Boston Qin Society. She is a two-time winner of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship given by the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Folk Arts and Heritage Program, and recipient of the 2008 Chinese Culture Connection Award. She has performed in the greater Boston area, and given performances and lecture demonstrations in venues including Yale University, New England Conservatory, and multiple museums. As a contemporary musician, she has premiered compositions and performed with ensembles such as IIIZ+ in venues including the 38e Rugissants Festival. A native of Taiwan, Shin-Yi has studied guzheng and guqin with teachers including Wang Ruey-Yuh, Tzay-Pyng, and See-Wah, and is a graduate of the National Taiwan Academy of Arts and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/26/2020.