Dheepa Chari is a band leader, focused upon creating a vivid synergy to weave a rich tapestry of inspired creative interplay that takes the listener on a fascinating journey with each song.
Dheepa moved to New York City in 2001 to study at the Columbia University School of Public Health where she also served as a cappella choral director for one of its vocal ensembles. From 2002 to 2004, she was a member of Juilliard’s community chorus, performing at prestigious venues throughout the area, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. During these years she renewed her studies in Indian Classical music from a new angle of perception stemming from her evolving interest in jazz and the deeply spiritual substance that is so powerfully ingrained in both forms.
A position in the pharmaceutical communications industry took her to Los Angeles in 2006, where she began to seriously pursue music professionally, hitting the local scene, making connections and just basically “learning the ins-and-outs of what it takes to lead a band.” But epiphanies of a different sort came into play in 2008 in the form of two life-altering events. “I lost my voice due to a cyst on my vocal chords, and while I was recovering, my father passed away in the fall of 2008. I realized the shortness of life and the need to pursue things that really give you a sense of purpose and meaning.”
In 2009, from the dual perspectives of seeing music as a source of healing and the need to express her own message, Dheepa – aided by the guidance of the renowned bassist, composer and educator Rob Kohler – formed her first group and worked in and around L.A. at well-known venues such as the House of Blues and the now defunct Café Metropol. She released her first recording in 2010 – On 4th Street, an EP featuring her unique take on five Great American Songbook classics – garnering some excellent reviews and beginning to make her own mark on the jazz world.
She released her 2nd CD, the full-length album Some New Fashion in late 2011 (produced by Kohler)to equally impressive reviews. With this album, Dheepa began her signature approach of embracing an eclectic repertoire of Songbook classics, works by jazz heavyweight composers and unexpected rock songs all re-imagined in uniquely original conceptions that make every piece entirely her own.
In 2012, Dheepa returned to New York City where she currently resides, put together a new ensemble and began to work in and around NYC. Her vision is straightforward and clear in focus: “I want to do what’s best for the song to best articulate its message.” To accomplish this in its most personally expressive manner, Dheepa has formed a collaborative artistic partnership with the extraordinary pianist and arranger Lars Potteiger. Her latest CD Patchwork (released in June of 2015 and produced by Aaron Nevezie) reflects this brilliant collaboration fully and has been already receiving outstanding reviews, revealing the continued maturity and development of a singer who is becoming recognized as one of Jazz’ most special talents.
With New York’s iconic Lower East Side venue Rockwood Music Hall as her home base, Dheepa performs regularly in New York and along the east coast as far south as Washington DC; and while performance opportunities are increasing substantially behind the release of her new CD, the competitive environment of chasing gigs is not a primary area of pursuit.