BIO

About Aisha Kahlil

AISHA KAHLIL possesses a dynamic, innate power and range in jazz, blues, traditional, contemporary, and African vocal styles and techniques.

Ms. Kahlil’s interest in music was evident at an early age. She was a member of local choirs in her native Buffalo, New York, and during her high school years performed as a vocalist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in several productions, including Porgy and Bess, Carmen Jones, and The Messiah. During this time she also sang the role of Monica in a special WGBH production of Menotti’s The Medium, and performed at Carnegie Hall in Julius Eastman’s avant-garde composition The Thruway. She worked concurrently with the Studio Arena Theatre where she was awarded a full scholarship, and The Buffalo Black Drama Workshop, where she became interested in the music of such jazz artists as John Coltrane, Leon Thomas, Betty Carter, Yma Sumac, and Pharoah Sanders, to name a few.

By the time she entered college as a theatre student at Northeastern University in Boston, it was clear that Ms. Kahlil had an intuitive inclination for vocal jazz. Although her formal training had been in European classical music, she began experimenting with innovative, improvisational vocal techniques. During the same period, she studied voice and music theory at the New England Conservatory of Music, and performed with Ebony Jua, a local jazz ensemble that toured the east coast music circuit. While at Northeastern, Aisha directed M(ego) and the Green Ball of Freedom, Where we at? , a play by Martie charles, and performed and directed Sister Sonji, by Sonia Sanchez.

Following her studies, Ms. Kahlil spent three years in the Bay area, where she worked as a vocalist and dancer with the Raymond Sawyer Theatre and Halifu Productions, while performing and recording with the avant-garde jazz trio Infinite Sound. She then returned to Boston, and there worked with such groups as Stan Strickland and Sundance and The Art of Black Dance and Music, in addition to teaching at the Institute for Contemporary Dance, The Joy of Motion, the Boston Center for the Arts, and as a consultant to the Boston public school system.

Ms. Kahlil’s artistic pursuits have taken her to New York City, where she studied extensively at the Alvin Ailey School, and with Frank Hatchett, Pepsi Bethel, Fred Benjamin, and Emiko and Yasuko Tokunaga. She also appeared in the Joseph Papp off Broadway production of The Haggadah, co – composed and performed in the musical Two Thousand Seasons, and danced with such companies as Titos Sampas’s Tanawa. During this time, she also performed with Talib Kibwe( T.K. Blue) and Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), and with Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra.

Since her arrival in Washington, D.C., she has worked with the D.C. Black Repertory Theatre and with Brother Ah and the Sounds of Awareness, and has been a featured artist in the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz in the Palm Court, in which she presented a special performance of the music of Gertrude “Ma” Rainey; the Queen Mother of the Classic Blues, to rave reviews. Aisha has taught and performed for the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, as a dancer in Kankouran, and taught at the Dance Place. She also served as artistic director for the Youth Ensemble of Dancers and Drummers at the Levine School of Music, directed and choreographed for the First World Dance Theatre, and co directed and performed for the First World Productions, where she also co wrote with Nitanju Bolade Casel the original production Bright Moments in Great Black Music. As a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ms. Kahlil has been voted Best Soloist by the Contemporary A Capella Society, for her work on her composition Fulani Chant, and also for her rendition of See See Rider. Her original composition Wodaabe Nights has been featured in the film soundtrack Africans in America, and her composition Fulani Chant has been included in the film soundtrack Down in the Delta, directed by Maya Angelou, as well as the soundtrack Climb against the Odds, a film produced by the Breast cancer Fund. Ms Kahlil’s film credits include Beloved, starring Oprah Winfrey and directed by Jonathan Demme, and with Sweet Honey in the Rock and James Horner, has written and recorded original music for the soundtrack of the TNT film Freedom Song, starring Danny Glover and directed by Phil Robinson. In 2005, Aisha was a finalist with her own band MyKa and the whole World Band in the annual contest Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Discmakers, and is a winner in the International Songwriting Competition’s (ISC) performance category with her original song, The Jewel Light.

Aisha has toured with her band in the islands of Hawaii; performing at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, at Cassanova’s, and at Studio Maui, where she also taught workshops in vocal improvisation and movement. She has recently presented her signature workshops at the Kripalu Yoga Institute.

Journey to My-Ka is her first solo release, and is a compilation of her own original compositions and arrangements.

MUSIC /
PHOTOS

Music / Photos

listen 1. Nature Boy

listen 2. The Jewel Light

listen 3. When I Think of You

listen 4. Find the Way

listen 5. Dream Songs

listen 6. So New

Next 6

SHOWS /
EVENTS /
WORKSHOPS

Shows/Events

SOLO PERFORMANCES 2014  

23 JULY:  BLUES ALLEY - WASHINGTON DC

WITH SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK 2014  

26-31 SEPT:  BELIZE

18 SEP:  UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA/RENO - RENO, NV

27 SEP:  BEASLEY COLISEUM - PULLMAN, WA

08 OCT:  PERFORMING ARTS CENTER STATES - STATESBORO, GA

09 OCT:  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY - WAKE FOREST, NC

11 OCT:  RIALTO CENTER - ATLANTA, GA

14 - 15 OCT:  FOX CITIES PERFORMING ARTS CENTER - APPLETON, WI

17 OCT:  DIMNENT CHAPEL – HOPE COLLEGE - HOLLAND, MI

19 OCT:  THE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS - CARMEL, IN

23 OCT:  SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY - EDWARDSVILLE, IL

26 OCT :  CLINTON TOWNSHIP MI

30 -31 OCT:  MARTHA STREET CULP AUDITORIUM - JOHNSON CITY, TN

21 NOV :  ADMIRAL THEATER - BREMERTON WASHINGTON

22 NOV :  EDMONDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS - EDMONDS WASHINGTON

4 DEC :  FLYNN THEATER - BURLINGTON, VT

6 DEC :  JUANITA K. HAMMOND HALL - SPRINGFIELD MO

07 DEC :  SYMPHONY CENTER - CHICAGO, IL

12 DEC:  COLONIAL THEATRE - KEENE, NH

13 DEC:  BROOKLYN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS - BROOKLYN, NY

14 DEC:  THE BIRCHMERE - ALEXANDRIA, VA

18 DEC:   CAROLINA THEATRE - DURHAM, NC

20 DEC:  NEW JERSEY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER - NEWARK, NJ

16 JAN 2015 :  LONGWOOD GARDENS - KENNETT SQUARE, PA

10 FEB 2015:  ALBANY MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - ALBANY GA

10 APR 2015:  DENISON UNIVERSITY - GRANVILLE OH

12 APR 2015:  CASCADES PARK - TALLAHASSEE FLA

Workshops

Vocal Essence: African Songs, Chants, and Movement  
For all levels.
Exploring the basics of vocal production, you will learn to tap into, open up, and express your own unique vocal identity. Utilizing physical warm-ups, breathing techniques, vocal rhythms, songs, and chants, Aisha will create a moving, harmonious circle enabling you to feel the fluid, creative, energetic expression of free spirit within. From this centered place of flow and creativity, you will learn to move and sing the natural, organic way. {Learn more...}

African Songs, Chants, and Movement  
This workshop will explore the basics of vocal production. Utilizing physical warm ups, breathing techniques, vocal rhythms, songs and chants, we will learn how to move and sing simultaneously; placing emphasis on maintaining rhythmic tempo, holding down various parts, and minimizing vocal and physical strain during performance.

Rhythm, Melody, and Harmonics  
In this workshop, we will build upon the foundation of essential vocal technique. Working through breath, physical and vocal warm ups, and polyrhythmic structures, we will move on to more complex compositions; infusing harmonic tonalities, pitch, range, and placement with individual and group performance.

Basics of Vocal Improvisation  
Here we will focus upon the art of listening. We will learn how to improvise upon simple rhythmic structures, through the heartbeat, to movement, to handclapping, boot dancing, and finally, through vocal expression. Emphasis will be placed upon the organics of sound production, moving through tribal like evolutions of group and individual dynamics, to create an atmosphere of safety, sensitivity, and creative freedom - the essentials of vocal improvisation.

Advanced Vocal Improvisation  
This workshop will take the art of improvisation a few steps further. With continuous focus upon the art of breath, tonality, and listening, we will explore more complex aspects of melody, harmony, and rhythm; creating more defined and individual expressions of vocal improvisation.

REVIEWS

Reviews

"Aisha Kahlil seems to be Sweet Honey's occult genius. With her raspy voice, she carefully executes every note as if pulling precious diamond rings out of a thick molasses. Kahlil wasn't timid about her diverse and sometimes unusual vocal abilities. Her chest resonated with sound like the body of a cello. When she yodeled, her vocal control was as precise as every stroke of a violinist's bow. Her every movement seemed to be an extension of the music."
- Nastia Voynovskaya, The Daily Californian
 

"Eloquent and ecstatic. Aisha Kahlil "
- Marlene Duncan, The Collegiate

"Kahlil's "Fulani Chant" sounds like nothing so much as an exotic group of birds calling and crying in the trees, and is an amazing testament to the versatility of the human voice."
- All Music Guide Review

"Nature and Earth Day was further saluted by the exuberant emotional performance of Aisha Kahlil on “the Soul of Nature” that joined with her Dream chant as some of the most adventuresome music in the show."
- Los Cerritos Community News

"Still, a relatively apolitical number, "Fulani Chant," provided the most fun of this last night. The beautiful Aisha Kahlil, in a dashing yellow gown, did a hands dance and chanted wordlessly"
- A Capella News

"Aisha Kahlil, trained in African dance traditions, was mesmerizing as she sang and danced to a haunting song. At times her voice was like a whisper, at other times almost a wail. It was very powerful and when the song was finished and the applause died down I could hear many sniffles in the audience."
- Robin's Blog

"Prayer at the Crossroads," a rap number about drug addiction. Group member Aisha Kahlil, who wrote the song about someone she loved who succumbed to addiction, contorted her body, turned her face into a mask of anguish, shook and shuddered as she sang this song of sorrow."
- Kalamazoo Gazette

"Their musical materials range just as widely, from traditional gospel harmonies to world-beat percussion to irresistible pop (Kahlil's) Vision of Tomorrow," with its introspective lyrics, ear-catching melodies and solid beat, would burn up the R&B charts"
- Andrew Lindemann Malone, Washington Post

After intermission, Aisha Kahlil's tour de force lead vocals on "Stranger Blues" garnered the largest of many standing ovations.
- Washington Post - Washington,DC,USA

"Never have the group's arrangements been as ambitious or as successful as they are here. Highlights include Kahlil's nine-minute scat piece, "Fulani Chant,"
- Geoffry Himes

"One of the brightest newcomers was Aisha Kahlil, a stunning black dancer ...Kahlil's choreography was fluid and always fascinating...a tapestry of cultural forms"
- Julie Van Camp, The Washington Times

"Another song, "Stranger" became a meditation on alienation and longing, with Kahlil crooning in a slightly husky alto that belied her slight frame., the song bursting from her body in a series of scats, raps, and yodels - as if the musicf were being beat out of her"
- Teresa Wiltz , Chicago Tribune

"Brother Ah's original African music and its performance by his ensemble provide excellent counterpoint to the action. However, the most moving instrument is Aisha Kahlil's voice."
- Burt Wade Cole, Providence Sunday Journal

"And then there is Aisha, an electrifying dancer as well as singer whose eerie tones, stratospheric swoops and radical phrasing make even Betty Carter sound conventional"
- Mark Rowland, Boston After Dark

CONTACT /
LINKS

Contact Us

CONTACT INFO: 301-213-7335
THUNDERHEAD MUSIC
P.O. BOX 3068
SILVER SPRING, MD. 20918-3068
www.myspace.com/kamyka

For questions / comments, please fill out form below:

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Links

www.sweethoney.com
www.stanstrickland.net
www.tkblue.com
www.brotherah.com
www.kankouran.org
www.dwightcarter.com