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Shanta Nurullah – Sitarsys

Shanta – sitar, mbira, spoken word; Fred Jackson Jr. – saxophones; Alex Wing – guitar, oud; Sharon Udoh – piano; Carmani Edwards – bass; Michael Zerang – drums; Zahra Baker – vocals


Shanta Nurullah was born into a musical family and studied piano and tap dancing throughout her formative years. While in college, she was able to travel to India and study Indian Classical music and the sitar.  Shanta has been performing professionally as a musician since 1972, and as a storyteller since 1978. After college, Shanta immersed herself in the Black Arts Movement as a member of the Kuumba Workshop, Kelan Phil Cohran’s Black Music Workshop, and associating with writers, visual artists, dancers, and members of the AACM. 

 Shanta formed her first band in 1978 and went on to co-found the all-women’s ensembles Sojourner and Samana, the first female band in the AACM. With these groups, and others, Shanta has performed in venues across the country, distinguishing herself as a sitarist and bassist exploring African-American improvisational music. Her current projects include the bands Sitarsys and Classic Black, the duo ShaZah, and Freedom Song Leaders, a vocal ensemble.

Shanta has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Mutual Mentorship for Musicians(M3), an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and the Zora Neale Hurston Award from the National Association of Black Storytellers. She has received grants from 3Arts, the Nevada Arts Council, the American Association of University Women and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Shanta has an original story on permanent display at Brookfield Zoo (IL) and has been a storytelling teacher and mentor for many years.

Currently, Shanta teaches at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.

Shanta Nurullah - sitar






3111 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618