Gig Seeker Pro


Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1978 | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1978
Band Spoken Word World


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Shanta @ Hilton Chicago/Oak Lawn

Oak Lawn, Illinois, United States

Oak Lawn, Illinois, United States

Shanta @ The University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Shanta Nurullah"

RZ: So you’ve been involved in music since you were five years old—can you tell me about that?

SN: OK. My great aunt, Nanny Strayhorn Reed, was a classical pianist. She was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi, as was my grandmother, her sister. She moved to Chicago during the Great Migration, in the early to mid twenties. On my mother’s side and my father’s side and my grandmother’s side and my grandfather’s side, they moved to Chicago. My aunt was pursuing this career but she took on piano students and my brother and I studied with her. So I did that from age five to fifteen. At the same time I was doing tap dancing with Tommy Sutton at Mayfair Academy. He was a childhood friend of my father and he learned how to tap by going and standing outside the stage door in the alley at the Regal on 47th and King Drive when Bojangles was in town (Bill Robinson). And Bojangles would come out and teach the kids steps. That’s how his dance career got started. He and Daddy were friends and when he opened his first studio it was in the same neighborhood where we were living.

RZ: And where was that?

SN: Chatham. So we were on 85th and Vernon, his studio was on 79th and King Drive (South Parkway at the time). So I was in one of the first classes that he taught. I kept that up from five to fifteen, and at fifteen I was done with both of those things. - Conversations About Art Transforming Politics & Community in Chicago & Beyond

"Shanta, The Sister with the Sitar: A Musician's Journey"

Shanta has been a lecturer and teacher at various institutions around Chicago, while playing in music groups as sitarist and bassist as well as playing West African instruments such as the mbira, four-string harp, and reed zither. Her storytelling career took flight in the late seventies and she wrote regularly in publications like Ebony Jr. and Black Books Bulletin on gender, race and music. [Note: These and other details of her life and work are documented in D. Antoinette Handy’s Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras.] In addition to playing sitar in groups like Insight, Shanta co-founded Sojourner and Samana, two pathbreaking all-women bands in the 1980s and 1990s. - South Asia Digital Archive

"Light Worker"

Light Worker

A captivating African-American storyteller, musician and writer, Shanta Nurullah utilizes original stories, traditional folktales and musical instruments from around the world.

Shanta's stories are about empowerment, peace, healing and self-discovery... and the many different ways in which people attain them. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, as well as in print in Ebony, Jr., Hot Wire, Cadence and Black Books Bulletin.

Shanta is also a talented multi-instrumentalist and long-time member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Joining with other members from this institution of innovative Chicago jazz, Shanta co-founded Sojourner and Samana, two all-woman groups in which she played percussion, bass and sitar.
- WTTW11-artsonline


CDs - Light Worker
The Legend of Lajadjie
The Adventures of Shedoobee
VHS - Shanta:Live in China

w/ Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Orchestra, Michelle Obama Suite

w/ Dee Alexander's Evolution Ensemble, Truth



Since 1978 Shanta has been presenting storytelling programs at festivals, colleges, museums, schools and libraries throughout the U.S. She brings a unique blend of music and message to her work.
Career highlights include two storytelling trips to China, as well as appearances at the National Storytelling Festival, Yukon International Storytelling Festival, A(ugusta) Baker's Dozen Storytelling Festival, the Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska and Las Vegas Storytelling Festivals, and the National Festival of Black Storytelling on ten different occasions.
Shanta's children's recording, The Adventures of Shedoobee, has been used to teach English in some elementary schools in southern China and South Korea. She has appeared in instructional videos from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Children's Museum.
Shanta has received an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and a Parents' Choice Silver Honor Award. She has served as Teller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN. Other awards include grants from the Nevada Arts Council and the American Association of University Women. Shanta has an original story on permanent display at Brookfield Zoo (IL) and has been a storytelling teacher and mentor for many years.

Career Highlights:
National Storytelling Festival
National Geographic Society
Yukon International Storytelling Festival
Adler Planetarium
Chicago Humanities Festival
Arkansas State University
Weber State University Storytelling Festival
Nebraska, Illinois, Las Vegas, and Michigan Storytelling Festivals
The Art Institute of Chicago
University of Wisconsin
A(ugusta) Bakers Dozen Storytelling Festival
Toledo Museum of Art ~ Penn State University
African Festival of the Arts
Pontiac Correctional Center
Miami-Dade County Library District
DuSable Museum of African-American History
Smoky Hill River Festival ~ University of Chicago
Wild Onion Storytelling Festival
Childrens Memorial Hospital
Kentucky Centre for the Arts ~ Clarion University
The Saint Louis Art Museum ~ The Field Museum
Great River Traditional Music & Crafts Festival
Northwestern University ~ Blissfest
First Nights Chicago, Springfield, Evanston, and Aurora, IL; Battle Creek, MI; and Mobile, AL
Storytelling tours in the Peoples Republic of China

Mississippi Valley Blues Society (IA)
International Storytelling Center (TN)
North Dakota Museum of Art
Dixon Elementary School (IL)

Musical Ensembles:

Classic Black, ShaZah
Kelan Phil Cohrans Black Music Workshop
Shanta Nurullahs Insight
AACM Big Band , Dee Alexander's Evolution Ensemble, Saalik Ziyad Collective, Black Earth Orchestra

Band Members