DO’A is a vocalist, pianist, guitarist, composer and mathematician lauded for her emotional integrity and depth of musical expression, both original and arranged. Now, following her artist-in-residency at The Music Center at Strathmore, she steps forth to record her debut album: higher grounds. A tribute to the interconnected nature of the human spirit, the record draws on DO’A’s Albanian upbringing, combining elements of Albanian folk music with jazz, samba and Latin American rhythmic traditions to create a holistic expression of the artist’s identity and passions. 

For many artists, the unprecedented change in creative life set in motion by the events in and following 2020 became a hindrance. For DO’A, the restrictions were not as much of a stumbling block, but merely an obstacle to overcome, an opportunity to create in new ways. Seeing the time as right to make her mark in the recorded realm, DO’A embraced the newfound emphasis upon distance and virtual collaboration and assembled an entourage of handpicked masters to realize her musical vision. With musicians based in Colombia, Boston, Israel and the Gran Canary Islands – all of whom recorded in their respective countries – the assembling of higher grounds was akin to the creation of a musical mosaic. DO’A returned to Albania to record and recenter and it was here that she began piecing these artifacts together to create the unified image present on the album. 

The title for the album signifies the role music plays in connecting people and facilitating a shared understanding and emotional appreciation. “Music transports us to higher grounds, where we feel connected, fulfilled, alive, and free,” DO’A says. “Each song on the album imparts these same feelings to me and I hope, to the listener as well.” higher grounds brings a raw purity of emotion to center stage and invites listeners into the open space that DO’A creates. 

Musically, higher grounds leans into the intersectionality of DO’A’s ethnic and geographical heritage as a German/Italian/Iranian growing up in Albania, showcasing a distinct and uniquely tasteful mélange of styles with expression at their fore. DO’A’s musical identity is not only defined by her experiences, but also by her passions and joys, and so higher grounds adds even more flavor into the melting pot, featuring compositions from Argentina, Brazil, Albania, and America in tandem with DO’A’s original works. “My music incorporates elements from different genres and cultures to share a reflection of my soul and what speaks to it,” DO’A says. 

As a writer, DO’A leans heavily into the innate human experience of what it means to feel. “My compositional style is based very much on feeling and intuition,” DO’A says. “From the way music ‘comes to me’ when writing down my own compositions, to the collaborations I decide to embark on, a lot of it is based on inspiration and an openness to be guided in the right direction.” A perfect example of this is DO’A’s take on the Argentinian tune “Alfonsina y la Mar,” a tale that focuses on themes of life, death, and their interconnected nature. DO’A’s rendition utilizes emotional vocal elements to bring this sonic story to life in collaboration with Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin. “Flor de Lis” showcases DO’A’s brilliance in creative cultural blends. Working alongside Cuban jazz pianist Harold López-Nussa and his band, DO’A combines the harmonic and melodic sensibilities of Brazilian samba with the Cuban flair of salsa music to create something truly striking. “Pranvera” is a traditional Albanian folk song and stands as a tribute to DO’A’s upbringing and heritage. Performed with acclaimed Israeli jazz pianist Shai Maestro, the duo lean into both emotive and technical creativity in their rendition of this tune from the northern city of Shkodra.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Higher Grounds

Outside in Music


I Fall In Love Too Easily

From: Higher Grounds

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