Since her arrival not just at our NYC jazz bar, but on the entire New York jazz scene, vocalist Naama Gheber’s has been a career to watch. Her natural, easy, swinging style and deft choice of repertoire has made her a favorite at clubs and listening rooms around town, “but it’s Gheber’s skill at finding the emotional core of every song” (Downbeat Magazine), that keeps audiences captivated.

On April 13, Naama returns to the Django stage, along with the stellar rhythm section from her upcoming album, If I Knew Then. She spoke to us about her musical journey from the Israeli desert to the jazz clubs of New York City, and what it takes to move an audience. T0 make reservation for her show at The Django, book HERE.


NH: Hey Naama, it’ll be great to see you back on the Django stage on April 13, and you’re bringing in a swinging band. What do you have in store for us?


NG: I am always excited when I get my favorite rhythm section to play with me. They are all so in demand I rarely get a chance to get all of them in the same room at the same time. Last time I managed to do so was in January where we recorded my upcoming EP. On April 13 we will play some music from the upcoming album as well as some of my favorite tunes from my previous album, Dearly Beloved. It is also spring- finally! Apart from the obvious reasons, I love this season because of the beautiful (mostly ironic) ballads that were written about spring– I’ll definitely be doing some of those on the show.


NH: How did you find jazz? Do you remember when you first heard it?


NG: My story is definitely not a typical one. I was born in a city in the desert of Israel. My parents were aspiring scientists. Music was always around– my dad was a fan of classical music, 70’s and 80’s American bands as well as Israeli music. I started my musical journey with classical piano, which I apparently was good at but didn’t enjoy. I always wanted to sing, but my father, disappointed he did not transfer all of his musical genes to me, thought I had a serious intonation problem and that it would be better to offer me a different form of art to focus on. When I was 18, I had received a gift from my grandparents and decided to use it to pay for what were basically my first singing lessons with one of Israel’s most famous singers. As a child I lived in Baltimore, Maryland, while my parents were studying at Johns Hopkins university and so I was lucky to pick up English with an American accent at a young age. My teacher was very impressed with this and encouraged me to sing in English– “you should be singing jazz,” she said. From there I started exploring the genre and found a couple of teachers and aspiring musicians in a local conservatory that introduced me to some jazz greats. Very early into that process it was time for me to fulfill my duty as an Israeli citizen and join the army but fortunately the seed had been planted– I was in love  and 3 years later when I was discharged, I was accepted into the Center for Jazz studies in Tel Aviv that was partnered with The New School in NYC. I still don’t know how I was accepted– I really didn’t know shit. It drove me to work extra hard. I realized I needed to be practicing and listening five times the average student if I had a chance at this career. I never felt like I had a choice, jazz found me and it was clear to me, every step of the way, that it is what I should be doing.


NH: You clearly love the American Songbook– what is it that draws you to a song? Is it melody and lyrics that you feel you can make your own? An emotional connection to a particular recording of the song? Or something else?