Concert showcases York University’s new jazz artist in residence

Photo by Kim Fox

Luciana Souza, a Grammy Award-winning vocalist and instrumentalist, is the 2019 Oscar Peterson Jazz Artist in Residence in the Department of Music in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) at York University. Souza’s residency begins Feb. 27 and continues until March 1.

Luciana Souza

During her residency, Souza will conduct several masterclasses for vocalists and instrumentalists and will coach small jazz ensembles. She will also present a special concert performance on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 12:30 p.m. in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall. Accompanying Souza will be faculty members from AMPD’s jazz program. The concert is free and open to the public.

Souza is one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Souza grew up in a family of bossa nova innovators – her father, a singer and songwriter; her mother, a poet and lyricist. Souza’s work as a performer transcends traditional boundaries around musical styles, offering solid roots in jazz, sophisticated lineage in world music and an enlightened approach to new music.

As a leading artist, Souza has been releasing acclaimed recordings since 2002, including her six Grammy-nominated records: Brazilian Duos, North and South, Duos II, Tide, Duos III and The Book of Chet. Her debut recording for Universal, The New Bossa Nova, was produced by her husband, Larry Klein, and was met with widespread critical acclaim. Souza’s recordings also include two works based on poetry – The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs and Neruda. Her 2015 release, Speaking in Tongues, was met with critical acclaim. “Luciana Souza has used her voice as an instrument of empathy and intimacy, cultural linkage and poetic disquisition … singing wordlessly but with full expressive intent,” wrote American music critic Nate Chinen in 2015 in his review for The New York Times.

Souza has performed and recorded with luminaries including Herbie Hancock (on his Grammy-winning record River – The Joni Letters), Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Danilo Perez and many others. Her long-standing duo work with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo has earned her accolades across the globe and her complete discography contains more than 60 records as a side singer. Souza’s singing has been called “transcendental,” “perfect” and of “unparalleled beauty.” Entertainment Weekly wrote: “Her voice traces a landscape of emotion that knows no boundaries.”

Souza has been a prominent soloist in two important works by composer Osvaldo Golijov – La Pasion According to St. Mark and Oceana. She has performed with the Bach Akademie Stuttgart, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Other orchestral appearances include performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra. Her work in chamber music includes a fruitful collaboration with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, composers Derek Bermel and Patrick Zimmerli, and the five composers of The Blue Hour – Rachel Grimes, Angelica Negrón, Shara Nova, Caroline Shaw and Sarah Kirkland Snyder – a setting of a poem by Carolyn Forché.

Souza began her recording career at age three with a radio commercial, and recorded more than 200 jingles and soundtracks, becoming a first-call studio veteran at age 16. She spent four years on faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she received a bachelor’s degree in jazz composition. Souza then earned a master’s degree in jazz studies from the New England Conservatory of Music and taught for four years at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She continues to teach masterclasses all over the world.

From 2005 to 2010, Souza was the jazz artist in residence with the prestigious San Francisco Performances. In 2005 and 2013, she was awarded Best Female Jazz Singer by the Jazz Journalists Association.