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Jana Herzen

Internationally acclaimed jazz and world beat multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Jana Herzen was born in 1950 in San Francisco, California. She is known for her unique blend of folk, jazz, pop, and world music, as well as being the founder of the Grammy-winning label Motéma Music. The daughter of renowned scientists, Leonard and Leonore Herzenberg, she grew up on the campus of Stanford University where her parents taught. Between 1980 and 1982, Jana Herzen studied drama in New York. Along with some of her college classmates, she founded the Manhattan Glass Company theater group, for which she worked in various positions for a decade. It was during a trip to Japan, Bali and Australia in 1991 that she composed the songs for her first album. The album was recorded in San Francisco and Paris between 1994 and 1997 and featured Congolese musician and producer Shaka Ra Mutela. The album, Soup's on Fire, was finally released in 2003 on her own label, Motéma Music. The independent record company created in San Francisco then moved to Harlem, New York and added many jazz and world music artists to its roster including Geri Allen, Gregory Porter, Marc Cary, Karrin Allyson, Monty Alexander, Joey Alexander, David Murray, Kellylee Evans, Jean-Michel Pilc, The Cookers, Donny McCaslin, Mark Guiliana and bassist Charnett Moffett. Jana Herzen released her second album, Passion of a Lonely Heart, in 2012, followed six years later by Overtones (2018), a collaboration with Charnett Moffett under the group name  Nett Duo. Their collaboration continued on two albums released in 2020:  Nothing But Love was released under her own name while Round the World was credited to both names. Throughout her career, she worked on many albums released by her label, either as a side artist, producer, or executing producer. In 2021, Jana Herzen released her first live album, simply titled Live.

©Copyright Music Story Stephen Schnee 2021
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