Lead by singer and vocal innovator Galeet Dardashti, Divahn’s bold all-woman power-house ensemble infuses traditional and original Jewish songs with a modern and edgy twist. Today Divahn has engendered an international following performing in venues ranging from top international concert halls and festivals to the most prestigious clubs in NYC.
The group’s thrilling live shows include lush string arrangements, eclectic Indian, Middle Eastern, and Latin percussion, and vocals spanning Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish, Persian, Arabic, and Aramaic. Now based in New York, Divahn has shared the stage with some of the world’s most renowned master musicians. As one of the few groups performing Mizrahi and Judeo-Arab music in the US, Divahn welcomes its audiences to a beautiful sphere of shared Jewish and Muslim culture.
Galeet Dardashti (lead vocals)
is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. After performing in the US and Canada with her family as a child, she began her own solo musical pursuits. Since then she has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative Jewish musicians today. She received a Six Points Fellowship to pursue her multi-disciplinary project and 2010 release The Naming, which interprets some of the compelling women of the Bible. Time Out New York calls The Naming “urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic” and The Huffington Post calls it “heart-stopping” and says you’ll “fall hard in love.” Dardashti also leads the all-female power-house Mizrahi ensemble, Divahn. The group has engendered an international following with its edgy renditions of traditional and original Middle Eastern Jewish songs. In Divahn, Dardashti’s “sultry delivery…clings to listeners long after the last round of applause” (Jerusalem Report). Her most recent project, Monajat—commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Culture—debuted this past September with a six-city national tour. The show is Dardashti’s re-inventing of Selihot, which occurs during the month preceding the High Holidays as a means of spiritual preparation. Audiences are enveloped into the ritual with Persian melodies, poetic Hebrew texts, electronic soundscapes and dynamic live video art. Dardashti also pursues her passion for Jewish culture as an anthropologist specializing in cultural politics and contemporary Middle Eastern/Arab music in Israel. She offers residencies, lectures, and workshops on her artistic and academic work throughout the US and abroad.
Rebecca Cherry (violin) began playing the violin at the age of 4, nurturing her love of classical, jazz, rock and ethnic music throughout her childhood, singing, playing several instruments, and writing her own music. She has begun a major career as a violinist and multi-talented musician changing the face of the “modern violinist” with a solo rock EP, art film and short story based on the lyrics from her upcoming album. Rebecca released her first classical CD “Remembrances” in 2004. In addition, her music was featured in several movies, including “Goal Dreams” (2007) on the Sundance channel. Ms. Cherry’s concentration on composing and experimentation with electronics and effects has led her to performances of her work for violin and electronics with live midi processing. Ms Cherry is the recipient of a 2007 Harvestworks artist in residency grant. Rebecca and composer David Soldier are recipients of a 2006 NYSCA grant for “The Compleat Victrola Sessions,” a multimedia performance for solo violin, black and white silent film, and electronics focusing on opium addiction in the early 1900’s. Rebecca formed Cherry-Tate Music productions with Terressa Tate. Their first piece for Monster.com, aired and Internationally, won many industry awards. Ms. Cherry records, performs and tours extensively with many top international musicians and has performed with many Orchestra’s, including the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, the London Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony and Vancouver Symphony.
Eleanor Norton (cello) began her cello studies at the age of seven in Amherst, Massachusetts. She has since studied with David Pereira at the Australian National University, Alan Stepansky at the Peabody Conservatory, Richard Aaron at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Pam Devenport at the School for Strings in New York City. Eleanor graduated from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she was presented the Israel Dorman award for string playing. She has performed, recorded, and toured with many significant musicians and ensembles including the folk music legend Arlo Guthrie, The Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Little Women the Broadway Musical, Beyonce, Divahn, Moby, The Princeton Symphony Orchestra, TV on the Radio, and Duncan Sheik. She performs regularly with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, is a member of the New York based Ossia Symphony Orchestra, and Bassam Saba’s Arabic Orchestra. Most recently Eleanor had the honor of performing for President Barack Obama at the State dinner honoring the President and First Lady of Mexico. Besides her active performing career Eleanor is also a devoted cello teacher. She is on the faculty of the Thurnauer School of Music, Hunter Elementary, and the Nightingale-Bamford School. Eleanor is a founding member of the North Sky Ensemble. In a recent CNN review, Eleanor’s performance of the Debussy Romance was described as “played expressively, with elegant intensity”.
Sejal Kukadia (tabla) is a disciple of world-renown tabla master Pandit Divyang Vakil of Ahmedabad, India. As one of the United States’ only female classical tabla players, Sejal teaches and performs regularly at the Taalim School of Indian Music, a cultural institution that offers tabla classes throughout New Jersey and New York. Sejal is author of Rhythms of Tabla, a guidebook for understanding and learning the main rhythmic instrument of North Indian Classical Music. The book includes biographies of legendary players, differences between gharanas, practical instruction for beginner players, and much more. Sejal plays in Pandit Divyang Vakil’s Tabla Triveni, an Indian Classical tabla trio troupe that performs throughout the country. Sejal’s tabla can be heard on the CD Tabla Upaj.
Elizabeth Pupo-Walker (percussion), is originally from Nashville, Tennessee and moved to Seattle, Washington after graduating from the University of Kentucky. Elizabeth has been studying and performing percussion since 1992 and began her career in Seattle where she formed the experimental/percussive jazz group Manah. She worked with many prominent Seattle artists, including Skerik, Reggie Watts and members of Pearl Jam. Elizabeth also toured internationally with The Tiptons, a phenomenal Seattle Sax Quartet with a wide range of musical influences. Her strength is her versatility, playing many styles of music including Afro-cuban/Latin jazz, Samba, Rock/Pop, Folkloric Haitian, African Soukous, Funk, Experimental Jazz, and Hiphop/Soul. Her main focus of study and expertise is Afro-Cuban percussion with an emphasis on congas and bongos. She has had the honor of studying in Cuba with the master drummers of Los Munequitos de Matanzas, and plans to return for further study. She has also studied with Senegalese Griot, Mapate Diop and Brazilian drummer Jorge Alabe among others.