Lead singer Galeet Dardashti follows a family tradition of distinguished musicianship dating back to 19th-century Persia. But it was down in Austin, Texas, where this bold, all-woman Mizrahi/Sephardi ensemble began dazzling audiences with its Middle Eastern grooves. Infusing traditional and original Jewish songs with sophisticated harmonies and entrancing improvisations, today Divahn has engendered an international following, performing in venues ranging from top concert halls in Poland 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. Dardashti's diverse background performing Persian and Arab classical music, Ashkenazi cantorial music, Western classical music and jazz enhance Divahn's unique and innovative sound.
The group has appeared at music festivals and live television and radio shows internationally and 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)
Galeet is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. Galeet's grandfather (Younes Dardashti) was one of the most highly acclaimed singers of Persian classical music in Iran and her father, Farid Dardashti, is a renowned cantor in the US. Together with her parents and two sisters, Galeet performed Jewish music throughout the US and Canada throughout her childhood. Since then, she has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative performers of Middle Eastern and Jewish music today. In addition to founding and leading Divahn, she received a Six Points Fellowship to pursue her multi-disciplinary project and 2010 nationally acclaimed release, The Naming, which interprets some of the compelling women of the Bible. Time Out New York called The Naming“urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic,” and The Huffington Post described it as “heart-stopping.” In her most recent commissioned multi-sensory piece, Monajat, Dardashti—accompanied by an acclaimed ensemble of Middle Eastern and jazz musicians—reinvents the reflective musical ritual of Selihot using digital technology to sing with recordings of her famed Iranian grandfather chanting piyutim (religious songs). As a scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, specializing in Mizrahi cultural politics, music and media in Israel and offers residencies, lectures, courses, and interactive workshops on her artistic and academic work throughout the US and abroad. She is currently Assistant Professor of Jewish Music & Musician-in-Residence at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Eleanor Norton (cello, vocals)
Eleanor is a New York City-based cellist. She has performed and recorded solo cello for Liza Minnelli, Alan Cumming, Thalia, Chris Garneau, Duncan Sheik, Joshua Radin, Allie Moss, and Lance Horne. She has performed and toured in string sections for Beyonce, Jay-Z, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Moby, Father John Misty, Mika, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Bingham, Kanye West, London Grammar, Marco Antonio Solis, Taylor Swift, Bonobo, and the Jonas Brothers. Eleanor is a member of Kristjan Jarvi's Absolute Ensemble with whom she has toured Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. With Absolute she has played with Bassam Saba, Alkinoos Ionnidis, members of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Carel Kraayenhof, and Sarah Chang. She can be heard on the Sony Classical album 'Bach Re-Invented' with Absolute Ensemble and pianist Simone Dinnerstein. In 2010 Eleanor performed at the State Dinner hosted by President Obama and Michelle Obama honoring the president of Mexico. Eleanor is a founding member of North Sky Cello Ensemble. She is the cellist for New Retro Strings, for Alan Cuming’s Cabaret trio, and for Natalie Merchant's concert string quartet. Eleanor was classically trained at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where her principle teachers and coaches were Alan Stepansky, Leon Fleisher, and Boris Slutsky.
Elizabeth Pupo-Walker (percussion, vocals)
Elizabeth is a member of Tuatara (featuring members of R.E.M., Los Lobos and Luna). She leads and composes for the Latin Jazz group La Buya, which she formed with acclaimed west coast saxophonists Jessica Lurie and Cochemea Gastelum. She has studied in Cuba with Los Munequitos de Matanzas and has been featured in DRUM! magazine. She has had the privilege of performing with Joey Baron, Uri Caine, Sharon Jones and the Dapkings, John Legend, Charlie Hunter, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Wollesen, Dj Logic, Skerik, John Medeski, and at Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival with Zakir Hussain, Joan Osbourne, Michael Franti and Hukwe Sawosa. Elizabeth has also toured nationally and abroad with various ensembles, including the band BRAD featuring members of Pearl Jam. She resides in NYC, where she also works musically in theatre and dance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Elizabeth teaches percussion and leadership skills to at-risk youth through the Leadership Program in New York City.
Sejal Kukadia (tabla, vocals)
Sejal 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 also can be heard on the CD Tabla Upaj.
Megan Gould (violin, vocals)
Megan is one of NYC's most versatile performers of Middle Eastern, Greek and popular music. Her comfort within a wide range of styles, her responsiveness to other musicians on stage, and a soulful improvisational style make Megan a sought-after element in many musical projects. Since completing a Master's Degree in Ethnomusicology (with a concentration on the Middle East) from the University of London, she has performed around the world in cities as far-flung as Paris, London, Budapest, Copenhagen and Dubai, and has toured extensively throughout the US, appearing at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center. She has performed onstage with popular artists such as David Byrne, Natalie Merchant and John Mellencamp, and her work has appeared on recordings and film soundtracks for artists including Lou Reed, Philip Glass and Metallica. She has performed with notable Greek musicians Alkistis Protopsaltis, Kostas Makedonas and Mario Frangoulis and with renowned composer Giannis Markopoulos. While taking on a significant amount of freelance work, her ongoing positions include Assistant Music Director of the NY Arabic Orchestra under Lebanese master musician Bassam Saba, a violinist in Natalie Merchant’s touring ensemble, violinist and baglama player in the popular Greek ensemble Mikrokosmos, and a member of the National Arabic Orchestra in Detroit, Michigan. www.megangouldmusic.com