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Native American jazz vocalist Julia Keefe talks culture and art ahead of Hawaiʻi Island show

Courtesy Julia Keefe/Facebook

There are few rarities in this day and age — female Indigenous jazz singers like Julia Keefe are one of them. She’s a member of the Nez Perce tribe and grew up on a reservation in Idaho.

Courtesy Julia Keefe/Facebook

After moving to Washington state, she began studying music and competing in jazz festivals. She graduated from the University of Miami in 2012, and in the time since then, she’s taught jazz voice classes, headlined events in Washington, D.C., and opened for Grammy winners Tony Bennett and Esperanza Spalding.

The Conversation got the chance to talk to Keefe about her love for jazz and how her culture influences her art. Keefe will be on Hawaiʻi Island to perform at the Kahilu Theatre on Saturday night.

Bonus audio:
Julia Keefe on putting together an all indigenous big band that performed in Washington State this past May.

This interview aired on The Conversationon Aug. 18, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation and host of HPR's This Is Our Hawaiʻi podcast. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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