“Do what you love, and love what you do” ( Ray Bradbury )
New York City-based Latvian singer, composer, and arranger Arta Jēkabsone is recognized for her velvety tone. Arta engages listeners with an emotional and honest, adventurous, and joyful expression of music. Her awards include a 1st place win at the prestigious Montreux Shure Jazz Voice Competition 2016, 3rd place at the 10th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Voice Competition 2021, 2nd place at Mid- Atlantic Jazz Voice Competition 2017, and 3rd prize at Ella Fitzgerald International Vocal Competition 2019. Recently, Jēkabsone was awarded The Jazz Gallery Residency Commission Grant 2021/2022.
Jēkabsone’s musical horizons start with simple Latvian folk song melodies, harmonies, and structures yet can reach something more complex—closer to the world of improvisation. The unifying element is storytelling. She also finds scat singing and improvisation to be adventurous aspects of her artistry. As Arta once explained, improvisation is like creating instant compositions without a score, just taking risks, and telling stories.
Unconditional love for music has been rooted in Jēkabsone’s childhood. Alongside voice, the violin has always been a part of Arta’s musical development. She calls it her heart instrument. She believes that playing the violin has been one of the determining factors in her ability to hear sounds the way she does. She plays violin the way she sings and vice versa.
Artists such as Ella Fitzerald, Bobby Hutcherson, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Flora Purim, Tatiana Parra, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Hermeto Pascoal, Itibere Zwarg, and Kurt Rosenwinkel have influenced her musical perspective.
In Jēkabsone’s original music, nature holds a special significance. Having grown up around forests and a river in the small Latvian town Kandava, she used to sing folk songs about nature. These songs talked about the sun, moon, birds, and Latvian women being often compared to blooming flowers. She is bonded with nature in her style of writing lyrics.
In 2017, with support from Montreux Jazz Artist Foundation Arta Jēkabsone released her debut album Light. Several projects have been completed since then, including a duo album with Erik Leuthäuser, Yesterday Still Lies Between the Floorboards, as well as Edgars Cīrulis International Group’s Aisma album Aisma Volume I. She has performed at many international jazz festivals, including the Montreux Jazz Festival, Enjoy Jazz Festival, Nikolaisaal Potsdam Festival, Berne Jazz Festival, and others. A funk singer, jazz trio member, and backup singer for Sheila Ray Charles, daughter of Ray Charles, have been among Arta’s many musical endeavors. In March 2017, she attended the Montreux Jazz Academy adventure featuring prestigious mentors such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marcus Miller, Yaron Herman, etc. Her work and performance with Electric Combo (RDKS) made her a nominee for Best Concert Recording and Best Debut in Latvia’s Music Awards Ceremony Zelta Mikrofons. Her original music project Reflections was nominated for Latvian Annual Concert 2019.
In the past few years, Arta has performed at NYC’s most imaginatively booked jazz club, The Jazz Gallery, where most of her original music has been premiered. A few of these include her debut album Light, Reflections, multidisciplinary and bilingual performance Letters to Home, and now Searching for a Song, her residency commission. Arta has been featured at The Jazz Gallery’s Lockdown Sessions alongside artists like Camila Meza, Aaron Parks, Dayna Stephens, and many others.
In recent years Arta Jēkabsone has been actively working as a composer, collaborating with artists and ensembles, creating more original work. She was commissioned to compose music for ORCHESTRA RĪGA alongside her colleague and composer Edgars Cīrulis. Together they wrote new contemporary music concert program Winter Portraits based on a fairytale by H.C.Andersen The Ice Queen. Besides her, The Jazz Gallery commission grant, her newest composition Kas Var Dziesmas Izdziedāt for mixed choir and orchestra will be premiered at the XV Latvian Song and Dance Festival in the USA this summer in Minnesota.
Currently, Arta and Erik Leuthäuser are working together on their second studio album BEACHFINDS. This album is inspired by the poetry of Dean Wilson. A short film Dean World directed by Dave Lee features some of their original music from the upcoming album. In addition to her projects, Jēkabsone sings backup vocals for Argentinian singer and composer Carolina Mama and Grammy-nominated musician Samir LanGus, exploring Gnawa music
Arta defines herself as a part of the music and is a vibrant color in the broad musical palette.
Riga Cathedral Choir School Jazz and Contemporary music department (2011-2015) – taught by Latvian jazz singer Inga Bērziņa
The New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music (2015) – earned Full President Scholarship, taught by renowned artists including Janet Lawson, Reggie Workman, Billy Harper, Andy Milne and many more.
The New School Arts Management and Entrepreneurship Program (2018-2020)
The Jazz Gallery Lockdown Sessions featuring Arta Jēkabsone (2020)
The Voice in Concert: Arta Jēkabsone at Festival Nikolaisaal Potsdam (2020)
Džezā Tikai Meitenes (Only Girls in Jazz) with ORCHESTRA RĪGA (2019)
Edgars Cīrulis Project Fairytale Aisma at VEF Kultūras Pils (2019)
XV Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Canada featured at Cabaret Night (2019)
Enjoy Jazz Festival (2018)
Venstpils Groove with Arta Jēkabsone Quintet (2018)
Užutrakio Vakarai with Arta Jēkabsone Quintet (2018 )
JazzKukko Festival (2018)
JazzKukko Festival (2017)
Saulkrasti Jazz Festival with Lady Jazz Trio (2016)
Bern Jazz Festival with Nick Dunston Quartet (2016)
Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival with Sheila Ray Charles (2014)
Klaipeda Sea Festival with Bunch of Gentlemen(2013)