Luciana Souza

"Ms. Souza is once again at the top of her game, her voice more than merely a device for the lyrics, but a true instrument in itself." — Jeffrey Siegel, Straight No Chaser
a curly-haired woman in a white shirt sits with her arms casually crossed

Luciana Souza was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1966. Ms. Souza grew up in a family of Bossa Nova innovators - her father, a singer and songwriter, her mother, a poet and lyricist. Her work as a performer transcends traditional boundaries around musical styles, offering solid roots in jazz, sophisticated lineage in world music, and an enlightened approach to new music.

As a leader, Luciana Souza has been releasing acclaimed recordings since 2002 - including her six Grammy-nominated records Brazilian DuosNorth and SouthDuos IITideDuos III, and The Book of Chet. Her debut recording for Universal, The New Bossa Nova, was produced by her husband, Larry Klein, and was met with widespread critical acclaim. Luciana’s recordings also include two works based on poetry - The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop And Other Songs, and Neruda. Of her 2015 release, Speaking in Tongues, The New York Times said: “Luciana Souza has used her voice as an instrument of empathy and intimacy, cultural linkage and poetic disquisition… singing wordlessly but with full expressive intent.” Her critically acclaimed recording, The Book of Longing, saw Ms. Souza immersed in the world of poetry again. She set poems by Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Christina Rossetti to music. Her 2020 recording, Storytellers, had her collaborating with Grammy Award Winning composer and arranger Vince Mendoza, and the Cologne-based WDR Big Band, on a tribute to the great songwriters of Brazil, including Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Chico Pinheiro, Djavan, Guinga, and many others.

Luciana Souza’s latest recording, Cometa, is Ms. Souza’s first recording with a piano trio - the Brazilian ensemble Trio Corrente. Together for twenty years, Trio Corrente is unparalleled in their ability to translate the traditional Jazz trio language into the Brazilian lexicon. With Luciana, they create a rich journey into old Sambas and original music composed by each member of the ensemble. Cometa is a celebration of the Brazilian resilience - after four years of an inhumane and tyrannic presidency, the country returns to a place of hope and joy. Recorded in the first few days of 2023, Cometa is a much anticipated recording, with heavy touring already slated for the US in April of 2024.  Concerts are already confirmed for New York, Boston, St. Louis, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. 

In July of 2022, Luciana Souza was awarded a New Jazz Works Grant by Chamber Music America, with funding through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Ms. Souza composed a piece for trio featuring Chico Pinheiro and Scott Colley. Twenty Four Musical Episodes loosely tracks a day in someone’s life. From 2020 to 2023 Luciana was a fellow with the Massachussets Institute of Technology helping curate Hearing Amazonia, a major music, culture, science, and sustainability project led by Dr. Fred Harris, which culminated on a trip to the Amazon in March of 2023 and a concert at the famed Teatro Amazonas with Anat Cohen, Evan Ziporyn, the indigenous artist Djuena Tikuna, and the M.I.T. Wind Ensemble.

Ms. Souza has performed and recorded with musical luminaries including Herbie Hancock (on his Grammy winning record, River – The Joni Letters), Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Danilo Perez, and many others. Her longstanding duo work with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo has earned her accolades across the globe, and her complete discography contains more than seventy records as a side singer. Luciana Souza’s singing has been called "transcendental, "perfect, " and of "unparalleled beauty. " Entertainment Weekly writes, "Her voice traces a landscape of emotion that knows no boundaries.” Of her work with the chamber music ensemble, A Far Cry, the Boston Globe said: “Her performance was more than beautiful. It was consolatory, and true to the work’s air of ultimate things.”

Luciana Souza has been a prominent soloist in two important works by composer Osvaldo Golijov – La Pasion According to St. Mark, and Oceana. She has performed with the Bach Akademie Stuttgart, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Other orchestral appearances include performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra. She has performed under the expert and inspired baton of conducting greats Robert Spano, Roberto Minczuk, and Jeffrey Kahane. Her work in chamber music includes a fruitful collaboration with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, composers Derek Bermel, Patrick Zimmerli, and the five composers of The Blue Hour - Rachel Grimes, Angelica Negrón, Shara Nova, Caroline Shaw, and Sarah Kirkland Snyder - a setting of a poem by Carolyn Forché.

Ms. Souza began her recording career at age three with a radio commercial, and recorded more than 200 jingles and soundtracks, becoming a first-call studio veteran at age sixteen. She spent four years on faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she received a Bachelor's in Jazz Composition. Ms. Souza earned a Master's degree in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory of Music and taught for four years at Manhattan School of Music, in New York City. Ms. Souza continues to teach Master Classes all over the world. In the last years she has taught at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Berklee College of Music, the Frost School of Music at Miami University, York University in Canada, and The Musik Akademie in Basel, Switzerland. Ms. Souza is currently on the faculty of UCLA, USC, and CalArts in Los Angeles. Luciana Souza is on the Board of Trustees of the BMI Foundation and is a member of NARAS.

From 2005 to 2010, Ms. Souza was the Jazz Artist in Residence with the prestigious San Francisco Performances. In 2005 and 2013 she was awarded Best Female Jazz Singer by the Jazz Journalists Association. Billboard magazine has said of Luciana: “She continues her captivating journey as a uniquely talented vocalist who organically crosses genre borders. Her music soulfully reflects, wistfully regrets, romantically woos, joyfully celebrates...”