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Iranian-descended singer Galeet Dardashti leads Divahn's edgy all-female power-house ensemble. The group has engendered an international following, performing in venues ranging from international concert halls to the most prestigious clubs in NYC. Infusing traditional and original Middle Eastern Jewish songs with sophisticated harmonies, entrancing improvisations, and funky arrangements, Divahn's thrilling live shows feature lush string arrangements, eclectic Indian, Middle Eastern, and Latin percussion, and vocals spanning Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish, Persian, Arabic, and Aramaic. “Divan,” a word common to Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic, means a collection of

songs or poetry. Through their music, the group creatively underscores common ground between diverse Middle Eastern cultures and religions.

Vocalist "Dardashti’s voice is exemplary, floating into earthy and nasal tones seamlessly, as called for by her Near Eastern style of music. Her stage presence is commanding, as well: She is in charge of her material." - The Forward

Dardashti’s “sultry delivery spans international styles and clings to listeners long after the last round of applause.” - Jerusalem Report

 

Galeet Dardashti

Galeet Dardashti (vocals, guitar, percussion). As the granddaughter of Yona Dardashti, the most renowned singer of Persian classical music in Iran in his day, and daughter of highly esteemed cantor Farid Dardashti, Middle Eastern vocal innovator Galeet Dardashti is the first woman to continue her family tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. After performing in the US and Canada with The Dardashti Family from her childhood into her teenage years, she began her own solo musical pursuits in the US and in Israel, including significant cantorial work. In addition to leading Divahn, Dardashti received a Six Points Fellowship and a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Fellowship to pursue her independent project The Naming, a multi-disciplinary (original music, dance, video art, storytelling) work. In The Naming, Dardashti creates lush electronica-edged Middle Eastern compositions in Hebrew, Aramaic, Persian and Arabic; her songs unite the stories of the women of the Bible with her own Iranian family's tales of women breaking the rules as well as with those of women in the Middle East today fighting to have their voices heard. Dardashti also holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, having completed her dissertation on the cultural politics of contemporary Middle Eastern music in Israel in 2009. Her work was supported by fellowships from Fulbright-Hays, The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and The Foundation for Jewish Culture, among others. She has published her academic work widely and offers lectures and artist/scholar-in-residencies throughout the country.

Rebecca Cherry

Rebecca Cherry (violin, vocals) 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. Her music was featured in several movies, including “Goal Dreams” (2007) on the Sundance channel. Her 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. She is the recipient of a Harvestworks artist-in-residency grant.  Rebecca and composer David Soldier are recipients of a 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 internationally won many industry awards.  Rebecca records, performs and tours extensively with many top international musicians and has performed with many orchestras, including the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, the London Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony and Vancouver Symphony.

Eleanor Norton Eleanor Norton (cello, vocals) began her cello studies at the age of seven. She graduated from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 2002, where she served as principal cellist of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. Upon graduating from Peabody, she was awarded the Israel Dorman award for string playing. An active chamber musician, Eleanor has participated in many groups both at Peabody and nationally. Her summer festivals have included The Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, the Aspen Music School, the Encore School for Strings, and the Round Top Festival. She was a winner of the Peabody Outreach Grant, which enabled her to provide music performances and classes to many members of the Baltimore community. In New York, she performs with the Artemis Chamber Ensemble. For the past three years, Eleanor has performed in concert with the folk music legend Arlo Guthrie and the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra at such venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. She just completed a national tour performing with "Little Women - The Broadway Musical," and she accompanied Christina Aguilera at the MTV Movie Awards.
Sejal Kukadia Sejal Kukadia (tabla, vocals) 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, vocals) Elizabeth is a member of the internationally recognized group Tuatara, which includes members of R.E.M., Los Lobos, and Luna. Other projects include Mocean Worker, Divahn and Obini Ashe, a 17-piece afro-cuban ensemble based out of NYC. Her strength is her versatility playing a wide range of musical styles including latin, brazilian, funk-jazz, afro-cuban, soul and pop. Elizabeth has been featured in DRUM! magazine and has performed with Uri Caine, Joey Baron, Zach Danziger, and at Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival with Zakir Hussain, Joan Osbourne and Michael Franti. She has recorded and toured internationally with various projects, including the pop/rock group BRAD, featuring members of Pearl Jam. "Elizabeth displays a sophisticated skill and a natural nonchalance...collapsing levels of expectation into a unique construct, one indefinable by its very essence, its disparate roots." - John Graham/Willamette Week.

Lila Sklar

Lila Sklar (violin, vocals) specializes in Balkan and Middle-Eastern styles though she has roots in Western classical and improvised musics as well. Lila began playing the violin at age four and studied for many years with Sherry Kloss, assistant to Jascha Heifetz. She has toured and performed extensively throughout the US, Japan, Europe, and the Middle East, playing with such groups as The Quarta Dolce Quartet, Gypsy Caravan, Sherefe, The Toids, and members of Cirque Du Soleil. Lila also participated in a nationwide tour playing Turkish Sufi music with vocalist Latif Bolat. She has performed in many venues and festivals, including The Bumpershoot Festival in Seattle, Britt Festivals, Artquake, The Carmel World Music Festival, The Great American Music Hall, Knitting Factory New York, Knitting Factory Los Angeles, and Yoshis Jazz Club. Lila lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and earns her living teaching, recording, touring, and performing with numerous bands including The Toids, Za'atar, Rosin Coven, and 3Spell.

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Divahn
Middle Eastern and Sephardic Jewish Music
Copyright © 2011 Galeet Dardashti
Photograph of Galeet Dardashti on this page by Brian Tamborello
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