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Take Five with Naama Gheber


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About Naama Gheber

Naama Gheber is a New York-based jazz vocalist inspired by the emotionally direct compositions of Rodgers and Hart, Fields and Hugh, Cole Porter and other great composers and lyricist of the 1930's and '40's. Possessed with an urbane and elegant voice, Gheber's sensitive interpretation and crisp phrasing have become recognizable elements of her signature style and timeless appeal. Naama performs with her groups—The Misbehavin' Seven and The Naam Gheber Group throughout New York City, Israel and Europe at major jazz venues and international jazz festivals, dedicated to tell the story of an elegant, urbane era in New York City. Naama Gheber is a New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music Alumni, graduated with honors in 2017. Aside from her career as a jazz vocalist, Naama teaches music theory, piano and voice to children and adults, both in group and private sessions. Naama conducts workshops for jazz vocalists, musicians of all instruments and the general public. Her background and teaching style allow her students to make noticeable progress in a short amount of time.


I am a jazz vocalist. I have decent piano skills but will never have the courage to play it on stage!

Teachers and/or influences?

I am influenced by the beautiful music recorded in America in the '30s and '40s, made famous by influential jazz vocalists of that era-Billie Holiday, Young Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and many others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I was born in 1991 to aspiring scientists in Be'er Sheva, a southern city in the Negev desert in Israel. When I was four years old, my family relocated to Baltimore MD, for a period of four years. When I think of it today, that was where my infatuation with American culture and music was first formed. When I was six years old, my parents thought it best that I study piano. That was where music first entered my life, but after ten years of classical piano studies, I kind of got tired of it. I realized that I actually wanted to sing. In spite of my wish, I wasn't encouraged to pursue singing right away. To this day, my father will tell you that I couldn't carry a note until a late age. When I asked for singing lessons, my parents offered drama classes instead. It was not until my senior year in high school when I decided to study voice professionally. I used my grandparent's graduation gift to pay for lessons with the famous Israeli singer Ricki Gal. It was such a big deal for me, a young girl from the south, taking weekly trips to Tel Aviv to study with a master! Somewhere into our third lesson she said: "You know, you should really be singing jazz."

Your sound and approach to music.

As a vocalist, sound is a super important factor of my art. A teacher once told me in one of my first lessons at The New School "Everyone's voice is unique, there are no two people on this earth who have the exact same voice, our voice is simply ours." I still think of these words when I find myself trying to sound like someone else, this is easy to do in the genre of vocal jazz, listening to all these amazing old recordings of singers with angelic voices. It is so important to remember-we can and should work on improving our sound and our music every day, but our voice will always be ours, we should aspire to sound like the best possible version of ourselves.

Your teaching approach

I love teaching. It has been my passion since a young age. I have memories of how I'd make my two younger brothers sit through an hour long lecture about whatever it was I had learned that day in school. Today, with slightly improved teaching methods, I truly believe the greatest challenge in teaching is finding the right way to lead each student. Things that work great for one will hold back another and I make it my mission to ask myself before and after every lesson-Am I doing the absolute best for this student's growth and development? If the answer is no, I challenge myself to find new creative ways to make our next lesson enjoyable and meaningful.

Road story: Your best or worst experience

I was on tour in Israel this past summer. We played two sets in a venue in Haifa. It was a full house and I was making my way through the crowd to use the restroom in between sets. An elderly woman comes up to me and takes my hand: "You made me feel so nice," she says with tears in her eyes. "I was so tired and didn't see a reason to leave my house. I'm so glad I did, I'm so glad I did. You made my heart feel better." I was so touched by this gesture and promised myself I would always remember that no matter the circumstance, music has the power to make peoples heart feel better.

The first jazz album I bought was:

The person who introduced me to jazz gave me a CD he made himself (remember, we used to do that!) . "There are 4 gigabytes of vocal jazz on this" he said. "Listen to it, this is what you should be singing." There were endless Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald tunes on that burnt CD and to some extent, I owe my musical career to it.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

People have to come to shows! Venues are struggling to keep audiences and some of them do an awful lot to try to treat musicians with the respect we deserve. Please support them by going out, getting a drink or two and telling your friends.

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

Oh I have so many nightmares that have to do with this. Just last night I dreamt I was singing at a new place and the owner said I was too loud and that he'd never book me again.

I guess today the scariest thing for me would be the patter in between songs. I think at this point in my career I've got the singing part down, talking is a different story though. I try to plan what I say in between and think of funny stories to tell, my fear is that they won't make people laugh and I'll make a fool out of myself. I don't know how comedians do it!

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