Luciana Souza
Lecturer, Global Jazz Studies

Jazz Vocals

Grammy winner Luciana 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 leader, Luciana 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. Luciana’s recordings also include two works based on poetry – The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop And Other Songs, and Neruda. Of her 2015 release, Speaking in Tongues, The New York Times said: “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.” Her critically acclaimed latest recording, The Book of Longing, saw Souza immersed in the world of poetry again. Luciana set poems by Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Christina Rossetti to music.

Souza has performed and recorded with musical 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 longstanding duo work with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo has earned her accolades across the globe, and her complete discography contains more than sixty records as a side singer. Luciana Souza’s singing has been called “transcendental, “perfect, ” and of “unparalleled beauty. ” Entertainment Weekly writes, “Her voice traces a landscape of emotion that knows no boundaries.” Of her work with the chamber music ensemble, A Far Cry, the Boston Globe said: “Her performance was more than beautiful. It was consolatory, and true to the work’s air of ultimate things.”

Luciana 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, 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 sixteen. She spent four years on faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she received a Bachelor’s in Jazz Composition. Souza earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory of Music and taught for four years at Manhattan School of Music, in New York City.

Souza continues to teach master classes all over the world. In the last year she has taught at Berklee College of Music, UCLA, York University in Canada and The Musik Akademie in Basel, Switzerland.

From 2005 to 2010, Luciana was the Jazz Artist in Residence with the prestigious San Francisco Performances. In 2005 and 2013 Luciana was awarded Best Female Jazz Singer by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Billboard magazine has said of Luciana: “she continues her captivating journey as a uniquely talented vocalist who organically crosses genre borders. Her music soulfully reflects, wistfully regrets, romantically woos, joyfully celebrates…”

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