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  r a d h ab o t o f a s i n a
Radha began her vocal studies while a student at Goddard College in Vermont with teacher Joyce Vos-Kadwell. She continued under the tutelage of Martin Lawrence in New York City, with whom she studied for five years. During that time, she also studied jazz piano with the noted player and composer Mary Lou Williams.

A native of the New York metropolitan area, Radha made her mark early in her career in music as the leader of a jazz group, the Spirits of Rhythm (named after the famed jazz group of the '30s). Featuring such notables as Cecil McBee Jr., Charles Neville, Roy Campbell Jr., Bobby Watson, Omar Hakim, J.T. Lewis, Kenny Washington, Rodney Jones, Doug Harris, Ricardo Strobert, and Zane Massey, the group performed at noted New York venues including New York University, the Billie Holiday Theater and the famed Apollo.

During a trip to London, Radha's interest in world music began. She was encouraged to develop her talents in this direction by the West African band Osibisa and former Fleetwood Mac founding member Peter Green. A few years later, she met Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and the original Wailers from Kingston, Jamaica.  After 2 trips to Jamaica, she became very interested in reggae music, especially as it was played by the Wailers.   Over the years, her love of the indigenous music of many cultures has grown through her extensive travel to Eastern Europe, India, Spain, North Africa, the Persian Gulf, South America, Aboriginal Australia, the Philippines, Cuba, and the Caribbean. As an ardent seeker of Truth, Radha has combined world music and devotion, singing in English, Sanskrit and—reflective of her Cuban heritage— in Spanish.

She has recorded with: several members of the Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club, Roy Campbell Jr., Brian Auger, Ndugu Chancler, John and Jeff Clayton, Herman Jackson, John Barnes, Ernest Tibbs, Phil Upchurch, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, Oran Coltrane, Michele Coltrane, Yusuf Rahman, John Lehman, Cecil McBee Jr., Muthu Kumar, Russell Smith, Chris Albert, Karen Briggs, Ming Freeman, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Ilmar Gavilan, Sandhya Sanjana, Georgia Muldrow, Lily Haydn, Shahrzad Sepanlou, Ekendra Das, and Dave Stringer.

During her two-decade long association with the late Alice Coltrane, her spiritual and musical mentor, Radha has learned how to sing beyond what her "mind" allows and to go vocally where her "heart" takes her. She has recorded four devotional albums with Alice Coltrane, who also gifted Radha with her first harp. She awakened an interest in Radha about the harp. The beauty of its harmonics and the freedom of its motion.  Radha Botofasina performs in many venues on harp, such as the Royce Hall at UCLA, The Ebell Club of the Wilshire Ebell Theatre to name a few.

Radha's work with Shaila Records came out of a creative collaboration with the late Slawomir Kulpowicz, an award-winning Polish producer/composer. This unique pairing produced music that was both sonically excellent as well as truly multicultural in both its performance and feeling.

Radha Botofasina is a mezzo-soprano and a multi-instrumentalist on piano, organ, synthesizer, harp, and guitar. She also composes music and is a record producer.

Radha is the CEO of Shaila Records & Music.  She has produced over 15 albums in the last 20 years in many genres: children's music, African American Spirituals, Jazz, Bhajans and spoken words.

Excerpts from Radha's Music Journal

“The ethnomusicologist in me wanted to find the roots of black music and the musician in me wanted to express it in vocal performance.

“Whenever there was an opportunity, I followed the legendary musicians.  Elizabeth Cotton, the author of ‘Freight Train’, invited me to open for her at a concert in Vermont.  Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Son House, Ike and Tina Turner, Taj Mahal, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee to name a few were interviewed by me as a young college student.  If there was someone singing or playing the traditional music, I was there observing and asking questions.  It was a wonderful and generous sharing by all of the musicians.
 
“I studied fingerpicking guitar with Larry Johnson, one of the most formidable acoustic blues guitarist in the New York City area.  He had been mentored by the Reverend Gary Davis.
 
“I also was mentored by the great Mary Lou Williams on piano.  She was originally from Pittsburgh, and at a young age, joined Andy Kirk’s Cloud of Joy big band, in Kansas City.  Mary told me many stories about music and her mystical experiences.  She encouraged me in my music and wanted me to continue singing.
 
“It was empowering being around such positive influences.  The greatest mentor I had was Alice Coltrane.  She single handedly over a two-decade period taught me the inner truth of music and its historical place in America.
 
“Embracing world music was very important to Alice Coltrane and she passed this appreciation on to me.”

last updated 03/04/2011