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Efrat (aka Efrath Shapira)

What are your earliest memories of music?

I remember going to classical music concerts at a very young age and also listening to my dad play the accordion with a few bands. I also remember listening to music on records with my parents and my first memory of live music (non-classical) would be in Israel when I saw a famous Israeli Folk Group, Ha Gevatron, perform a free concert in Haifa. Their vocal harmonies were mesmerizing! I was always surrounded by music because my parents loved it. My dad has played accordion his whole life. When I was age six or seven, I had a babysitter who would bring her cello and play for me and I fell in love with strings. I actually wanted to play the cello but my mom convinced me that violin would be easier to carry. She was not wrong! Meanwhile, I got myself a cello a couple years ago. Give me a few more years and maybe it will show up on my next EP.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

The first song I ever wrote is a song called, “I Wanna Fly” It was a cross between an R&B, jazz, and singer-songwriter song. Very simple song with two chords where I just wailed about not wanting to deal with the business of music but rather just play it. I honestly started writing because it seemed a natural extension of being a singer. I had been playing violin for a decade before I took my vocals seriously and it took a lot longer than that to feel somewhat good about them. But I thought, “if I’m singing, I must write.” I was listening to a plethora of music at that time from Janis Joplin to Turtle Island String Quartet, Madonna, and everything in between. I was also just starting to learn jazz and falling in love with Astrüd GIlberto and Louis Bonfa and Miles Davis.

Do you play any instruments? I DO. My first instrument was violin, which is how I started in music. When I was a senior in high school and had decided to pursue music, I knew I needed to learn piano and started taking lessons, but it was very frustrating for me and took me four years of lessons/classes and another 10 years of teaching private lessons and learning to accompany my students and myself to really become comfortable with it. It is still the hardest thing for me.

Other instruments seem way easier! I started playing viola in my late 20s when I heard it was an easy switch from violin. It’s similar, so if you rely on your ears they tell you how much more or less to space things with your fingers. I also had a job when I first moved to NYC as a Mommy and Me Class Leader and it was a requirement to learn a lot of instruments (one reason I chose this company!). They had a music library and I learned to play (a little) on saxophone, flute, and many other instruments... that was FUN! Since then, I’ve picked up the mandolin and use that more and more in my gigs. I do kids shows where I play a bunch of instruments to introduce them. But for my own shows, I play violin, viola, piano, and mandolin. BUT, I still choose to use other musicians often and I am lucky to meet great ones playing in gigs as a sideman. I produced the last album and co-produced the two before that. What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it writing, performing, recording...? I love the feeling that I get when I know that my performance meant something to someone else or helped someone in any way. I actually LOVE performing at weddings because there is nothing better than knowing you made someone’s special day that much more special by learning that song they love or because they adore the song you wrote for them (this happened a few times; a side effect of being a musician!). What advice do you have for artists who are just starting out?

Just don’t stop. Do what you must to make ends meet (I’ve had many other jobs aside from music when it was necessary. I got a certificate in business at college while doing my music degree so that I could do that). Life, and music, are fleeting and fickle. Stay true to yourself so that YOU feel good in your heart at the end of the day. But no matter what anyone else says... if it lights your heart to play... just don’t stop. For readers who are just getting to know you, what song do you suggest they listen to first? This one is especially tough because I’m extremely eclectic! BUT, I guess the title track of my new EP We Just Need Love tells you a lot about me and my beliefs as a person. I believe love is the answer... for everyone... love yourself, love your neighbor, and learn to love your enemies, while still protecting yourself. I’m still learning, but I’m very eager to get better at it!

What do you think your strengths are as an artist? My ability to perform with people from any background. I can figure out a part from listening. I can also read lyric chord sheets as well as lead sheets and even write arrangements. This allows me to truly control the sound and get what I want. It also helps me to understand what others do and how to use their magic as well in a harmonious way that is good for us both. Plus, I can improvise to almost any genre. Tell us where fans can find your music? YouTube is the best place to see new videos/hear new music. Bandcamp is the best place to buy music and merch and support me as an artist, but I’m also available on all the platforms from Spotify to Amazon.


About Efrat

Efrat started violin at age 7 and was immediately drawn to its beauty. Three years later, she was the youngest ever to solo with the Oak Ridge Symphony, and at age 11 was the youngest ever admitted into the Knoxville Youth Orchestra. She learned klezmer and Israeli music from her father, dabbled in folk and rock with a friend down the street, and took every opportunity to learn and play every genre she could. Accepted into and offered full scholarships by top classical violin schools in the country, Efrat settled on Indiana University. While pursuing her BA, she also was a member of the Shira Festival Orchestra in Israel, conducted by Zubin Mehta under the direction of Lorin Maazel. After a forced break from music due to injury, she resumed her studies at the University of Tennessee, from which she received a Master’s degree in Music Performance.

After graduation, Efrat, who grew up in TN and is featured in the book Cumberland Avenue Revisited, an anthology about four decades of music in Knoxville, Tennessee, moved to NYC to continue her career in music. After a stint as concertmaster for Olivia Newton John Orchestras, she re-established the Jade Quartet that has recorded for such notables as Ashanti and Bobbie Eakes (All My Children, One Life to Live soap operas).

During this period she also performed onstage with many jazz notables such as Joe Magnarelli, Saul Rubin (Roy Hargrove), Dennis Davis (David Bowie, Stevie Wonder) and more, including a few performances as member of the Harry Whitaker (Miles Davis, Roberta Flack) sextet. She worked closely with Harry Whitaker to produce quartet and band concerts with his jazz quartet and her string quartet, The Jade Quartet. The quartet concurrently held a residency at FatCat Music Hall for most of 2007 and 2008. which continued until she left for a tour of 47 states and Canada as the onstage violinist in the Broadway touring company of Oliver, for which she received rave reviews

After her return from tour Efrat pursued her love of jazz and song with No Strings Attached, her debut CD. The title track and the song Serenade were included in the movie soundtrack for How To Seduce Difficult women and No Strings was featured in its trailer that garnered more than eight million views worldwide. At this point, Efrat became a new mother, took a break from being a bandleader, and then was recruited into the alt-roots ensemble Spuyten Duyvil which brought her into the Northeast Folk Community.

Her sophomore release, The Silver Lining, was #14 on the International Folk Charts in its debut. Its’ a blend of many styles – including folk, jazz, pop, klezmer, swing, and blues. Their lyrics and structure are a testament to finding strength during the trials of life and leaning on those around you for help.

For more information on Efrat, please visit her website.


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