MATT NAKOA is an internationally touring singer/songwriter, recently appearing at The White House, throughout India, and regularly with folk icon Tom Rush. Growing up on a small goat farm in rural NY State, Matt discovered music as a means of teenage escape and trained to be a concert pianist. Matt was ultimately accepted as a vocalist to Berklee College of Music where he studied alongside soon-to-be Grammy winners St. Vincent and Esperanza Spalding among others. After school, Matt landed in NYC's vibrant piano bar scene. There he quickly became a star performer at Manhattan's famous Brandy's Piano Bar, with lines waiting outside the door each Saturday night.
As if illustrating two sides of himself, Matt's first album, Light In The Dark (2012), is a sweeping pop opus, while A Dozen Other Loves (2014) explores an intimate acoustic palette. Across the board his song craft has garnered awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festival's prestigious New Folk Competition. Though not easily pinned down, "In sum," as a recent review on CoverLayDown.com put it, "Matt Nakoa is a musical adept, one of those well kept secrets you just can't help but celebrate: intimate and genuine, soulful and bittersweet, a rich poetic songbook sung in praise to a complicated, emotionally present world."
Here's what folks are saying about Matt Nakoa...
"On the ivories, (think of) a hot-handed phenom who can go from Chopin to beer-drenched honkytonk in one set ... On guitar, a Jack Johnson-esque singer songwriter ... between his piano chops, charismatic stage presence, and heartfelt originals on guitar, he drops jaws."
-- The Boston Globe
"Most Wanted" Winner - Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
New Folk Winner - Kerrville Folk Festival
Sundilla Radio Hours "Album Of The Year" list
Selected to play at the White House
Efrat Shapira, a professional violinist, violist, singer, arranger and composer is a masterful musician with a wide-range of performance experience in just about every genre of music one can imagine.
A childhood prodigy, she took up violin at age 7 and became the youngest person to play solo with the Oak Ridge Symphony, as well as the youngest person, at age 11, ever admitted into the Knoxville Youth Orchestra. As she matured, she was drawn to groups that were blending jazz, classical and African musical styles, but also enjoyed everything from Mozart to Madonna. She learned klezmer and Israeli music from her father and also learned to play blue grass, country and any other style of music she came into contact with. While pursuing her undergraduate degree in music, Efrat was a member of the Shira Festival Orchestra in Israel, conducted by Zubin Mehta. Later, she established her first group as a bandleader and was the first violinist in The Rusty Strings jazz quintet, led by Rusty Halloway.
After graduation, Efrat moved to New York City to continue her career in music. After a stint as concertmaster for Olivia Newton John Orchestras, she re-established the Jade Quartet and pursued her love of singing and jazz. She began recording her first release No Strings Attached in 2007, then toured 47 states and Canada as an onstage violinist in the Broadway touring company of Oliver, for which she received rave reviews. Meanwhile, the title track for No Strings Attached was chosen for the movie soundtrack for "How To Seduce Difficult Women" and featured in its trailer that garnered more than eight million views worldwide.
Before striking out to focus on her own creative musical pursuits, Efrat was a member of the well-known folk band Spuyten Duyvil for several years. She currently resides in New York City and works as a performing artist and teacher.
Here's what music insiders are saying about Efrat...
"Efrat Reveals Strength in the Silver Lining"
-- Ron Olesko
"Efrat is the consummate musician, she's comfortable in multiple genres from jazz to Americana"
-- John Platt