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The best kept secret in music


Kiva delivers from a zone both international and personal. The Ladder (Yemyss Music) has elements of Tuvan overtone singing, Middle Eastern percussion and Balinese samples, none of which you would expect from an artist based in Winnipeg. The heart is held by her songs ("The Big Picture" uses the art gallery as a metaphor for the meaning of life, and has a gorgeous melody besides). She plays hip piano, too. - Rare Communications Inc.

In my search for the right type of music to help me reach this meditative state I have come across a few artists whose music speaks to an ancient part of my soul. Kiva, a singer songwriter originally from Manitoba who gets her name from the spiritual gathering place of the Hopi Indians, uses the ancient art of Tuvan throat singing in her modern global jazz pop music.
The effect on the audience is varied. People talk of levitation from the music or of having that ‘goose bump’ experience as their neck and arm hairs react to the electricity of the sound. On her tour with the Crash Test Dummies, Kiva was able to put her art form to the test. This experience encouraged her to create her first solo album, ‘The Ladder’ which brings the Tuvan tradition into the modern day with her ‘global jazzy pop’ compositions.

- Wholife

Accompanying herself on an electronic keyboard, Kiva sings a mixture of jazz and pop which is reminiscent of such well known Canadian vocalists as Shari Ulrich or Holly Cole. Her own compositions are strongly crafted with the emphasis naturally on the vocals, but with interesting lyrics. " The last time you blew into town/ I vaguely recall it was cold." Her piano stylings make good use of the various electronic effects available.
Blending perhaps the most accessibly pop sounding overtone singing you're likely to hear with traditional song stylings, Kiva creates a whole new niche for herself. The overtones, when they appear, float up above the 'normal' voice like a wind whistling through pines. On her signature song 'Regret', her voice acts like an accompaniment to itself, creating a hymn-like quality. My only regret this evening was that Kiva didn't play a third set. - Beach Metro

Any singer who cites 1950s icon Yma Sumac as an influence certainly deserves a listen: if you're not familiar with Ms. Sumac, she sang wordless vocals in various exotic settings with a voice that defied belief and a range that covered several octaves.
Kiva doesn't have that mind-blowing range, but she does have a mind-boggling set of vocal chops and a very broad knowledge of many styles of music, including classical, jazz, pop, R&B, Tuvan throat singing, and East Indian classical (i.e. Ravi Shankar).
I also hear West African, folk and pop, Sheila Chandra, Bjork, Sinead O'Connor, 1960s avant guard jazz/vocal, and too many others to list. Besides the many musical influences she lists, Kiva is also a keyboardist.
If there's any one person who deserves the title of world music diva, Kiva is it.
The music on PULSE ranges all over the world and even into outer/inner space, such as one of her instrumental influences Pink Floyd.
Of course, this could be a problem with Kiva: finding greater acceptance. Music buyers like to categorize or pigeonhole things: it gives them something to relate the music to.
Even Yma Sumac, now labeled the queen of exotica, kept one theme throughout each album, exposing aspects of that theme on each tune.
Kiva, on the other hand, slips from one idea or music type frequently throughout PULSE; not just from tune to tune, but often within a song.
This takes tremendous skill and musical knowledge, but leaves the listener lost: PULSE is not a spiritual album, not a dance record, not a representation of any ethnic group or country.... so what is it?
Well, one of the greatest recordings of vocal prowess and diversity by one singer ever made, that's for sure!

- World Discoveries

“Harmonic Overtoning. In case you haven't heard of it, it is the ability to sing in two pitches at once. Kiva does this, as well as a great deal of general vocalizing - vocal expressions of emotion and lyric, sometimes called vocables.

With these skills, she sets about writing songs that incorporate her unique voice and vision of entertaining world music. What she comes up with is very interesting, especially when her vocals serve the music or become the music that serves the song. Her style ranges from (approaching) new age to light jazz and easy listening, with world influences including Latin, African, East Indian, Caribbean, and even a little Klezmer!

Generally, the songs are short & sweet, leaving each with its special vibe and not overdoing it. Although her voice is very interesting and entertaining, I dare say too much of anything isn't always desired and Kiva wisely knows how and when to use her impressive range.

Only 4 songs contain lyrics, the rest are vocalizations, and I think I heard Kermit the Frog make a brief appearance on 'In the Flesh'! I don't know if laughter is a desired result, but Kiva should take heart to know I was smiling with her all the way.
The vocable tracks strive to contain hooks and patterns, which are well thought out and add the interest that most traditional 'catchy' songs do. Musically there is percussion throughout, but Kiva's voice really does create the pulse of each track, blending with the tabla or other percussive instrument being used.

Overall, Kiva creates music that is very light and easy to listen to, emanating from a voice that projects everything from sound and tone to melody and intrumentation all on it's own. A unique brand of sound for sure.”
-Steve Allat
- The Muse's Muse

Formerly of The Wyrd Sisters, and the Crash Test Dummies ’94 tour, this is Kiva’s second solo disc (the first being 1998’s The Ladder). Kiva is an harmonic overtone singer (sometimes known as throat singing), where two different pitches are produced simultaneously by a single voice. Shamanic in origin, it has been popularized by groups from The Republic of Tuva (Central Asia). Kiva has studied this art in Tuva, England and Colorado and has attended several international festivals and symposiums. Incorporating her own innovations to the style, and influenced by such diverse artists as Bulgarian women’s choirs, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Bobby McFerrin, Sting and Jane Siberry, Kiva has forged a highly individual music with her pop and jazz-influenced keyboard playing, overlaid with third world percussion. The style is highly personal, yet global in scope and tone. If you think along the vague lines of Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush, or Lisa Gerrard from the Gladiator soundtrack and Dead Can Dance, you get the general direction. Unusual and interesting. - BH. - Penguin Eggs

Skim the surface of PULSE, the second release of KIVA, and you might hear only New Age textures- the massed wordless voices, the intimations of other cultures' music. What separates her from the usual dream syndicate is her two-handed musicality as a keyboard player, and a jazz intuition that informs in unexpected ways. "Serendipity Doodah", for one, finds her trading smart solos on piano and accordion. "Morning Dew Ragu" offers only one example of her sixth sense for delicious chord changes. She developed most of the music on her own from the keyboards, but cameos appear judiciously, and a variety of percussionists both shape and drive the music. - Style Manitoba

Multi-instrumentalist Kiva, is an aural alchemist with a soft touch and near perfect instincts: two qualities that come to define the atmospheric world beat flow of her sophomore effort Pulse. Skilled in the art of harmonic overtone singing, a striking technique in which two or more pitches are produced simultaneously, Kiva reveals a penchant for lush, ethereal pageantry, shorn (thankfully) of any and all starry-eyed indulgence. Her dreamy, colourful compositions, ever percolating with polyrhythmic percussion, are smart, soulful and affecting. Of particular note is the Qawwali-tinged "Morning Dew Ragu", a startling display which comes off like Jane Siberry trading sinewy sonic improv jabs with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. At once familiar and otherworldly (due in large part to her occasional "vocables," or imaginary language), Pulse surges in wave after wave of sheer textural bliss as cascading walls of vocal fluency cry, swoon and surprise amid a subtle swell of jazz, pop, Klezmer, Celtic, Caribbean and Cajun trimmings.
- Ottawa Xpress

Kiva is a World musician/vocalist, whose choice of expression challenges the money machine of the industry and compliments the true art form we call music, and has released her second CD entitled Pulse. Someone said that Kiva was a cross between Bobby McFerrin and Jane Siberry. I can see that, but I also hear Bjork and Enya also, just listen to 'The Incident', it could have easily been recorded for Bjork's Medusa CD.

Kiva's vocals are purely unique, and despite all the comparisons that are being said about this lady, Kiva is a force to be reckoned with. For one good week Pulse was the only CD I could listen to as I commuted to the office. What I found great about Pulse is that the vocal textures and the harmonic overtoning is so soothing that it doesn't shock your system, but intense enough that it doesn't make you want to crawl back in a warm bed and go back to sleep, it repeatly holds your attention song after song. I am proud to say I'm a fan now of Kiva and Pulse is a very hip/cool CD on the World music tip.

Music lover, if you dig cultural sounds like Latin, African, East Indian, Cajun, Klezmer and Caribbean you will need Pulse. If you are fascinated by compelling vocal textures and just looking for something refreshing then experience Pulse.

- Evolution of Media

Kiva is a multi-faceted instrumentalist who's probably best known for her work as touring keyboardist with Crash Test Dummies. But that experience barely scratched the surface of this woman's wellspring of influences and talents. Kiva is an overtone singer, capable of producing two pitches at once- the sort of thing heard at Folk Festivals as performed by the Tuvan throat singers. She's also a multi-instrumentalist of impressive skill and a writer capable of molding all her interests- from jazz to world beat to pop to folk to classical- into a seamless whole. Pulse is Kiva's second album and certainly her most fully realized, creating a polyrhythmic, multi-syllabic world in which melody and rhythm become one and compositions (for these are not 'songs' in the pop sense) are ethereal, magical, guttural and entrancing all at once. With Dan Donahue producing and the likes of Rhys Fulber, Nii Tettey Tetteh, Richard Moody, Rodrigo Munoz and Bill Spornitz guesting, this is a gathering of pure sonic creators- all held together by Kiva's inimitable spirit.
Rating : A
Reviewer: John Kendle - Uptown Magazine


Pulse- released September, 2004
The Ladder- released May, 1998

Also several releases with other artists, most notably Juno-nominated 'Sin & other Salvations' (2001) with the Wyrd Sisters

*Kiva is currently tracking at No. 1 on the world charts on CHRW London, ON, and No. 7 in Ottawa and Mississauga campus radio.

Several U.S. based internet stations are playing tracks from Pulse.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Kiva is a Canadian singer/ keyboardist who has been gaining international recognition as a western pioneer in worldbeat music.
Her diversified career, spanning twenty-five years, began with a solid basis of classical and jazz piano training. The early professional years included stints in several rock, pop and R & B bands. Later on, she performed extensively as a solo act, including a jazz circuit in Japan. As a writer, she cites influences from a wide variety of artists: Jane Siberry, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Ferron, Sting, Yma Sumac, Claude Debussy, Bobby McFerrin, Bulgarian women’s choirs, East Indian classical, Tuvan singers.
Ongoing attention for her innovations in harmonic overtone singing have led to some unusual performance situations. International appearances have included: guest vocalist with orchestra “Olla Vogala” in Brugge, Belgium (’02), main stage artist at KIEKU throat singing festival in Helsinki, Finland and Nordic House in Reykjavik, Iceland (’01), and only foreign female artist at the International Symposium of Throat Singing in the Republic of Tuva, Russia (’95). She was also world tour member with the Crash Test Dummies at the height of their fame, in support of “God Shuffled His Feet” in ’94, where she demonstrated overtoning at each concert. Since 2000, Kiva has been a member of Winnipeg’s Wyrd Sisters, a Juno-nominated folk trio. In concert, they also highlight this ability with her song “Regret”.
Her debut “The Ladder” (’98) has dreamy, metaphorically rich offerings and elements of jazz, pop, impressionism and world fusion. Cultural influences such as Tuvan, East Indian, Celtic, Balinese and Japanese are apparent. Roughly half the tracks on “The Ladder” contain some form of this technique. Overall, she re-invents familiar song structures in a way that pushes musical and geographical boundaries. Lyrically, it’s an expression of her personal, theoretical and global ponderings, full of lush imagery and wordplay. This all comes together with hair raising harmonies and highly melodic vocals that are simultaneously sweet, powerful, innocent and exotic.
Kiva continues to stretch musical categories with her otherworldly worldbeat. She creates layers of textural vocals with mostly imaginary language (“vocables”), sometimes imitating instruments, combining this with hand percussion from several different cultures. Latin, African, East Indian, middle-Eastern, and even Cajun, are styles that appear in the newly released CD “Pulse”. The results are unique hybrids that meld East and “new” West.
From “The Ladder", "Pulse" and beyond, all her work documents an unorthodox history of study, performance, world travel and experimentation.