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Vanessa Paloma
Hometown: Casablanca, Morocco
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Vanessa Paloma is active as a soloist, performance artist, writer and lecturer. She is currently a Research Associate at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University. Ms. Paloma was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar for 2007-2008 in Morocco. She leads a group based in Casablanca, which perform Judeo-Spanish Moroccan music with traditional rhythms and sonorities. She founded and co-directs Flor de Serena, a Judeo-Spanish ensemble based in Los Angeles. Recent solo performances were at the Tangier American Legation Museum, Autry National Center, Barnsdall Gallery Theatre for the World Festival for Sacred Music, International Association for Jewish Studies Conference (AJS), UC Berkeley, the San Fernando Mission, the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre as part of the World Festival for Sacred Music, at the Lensic theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis and at Cal State Long Beach. Paloma has toured her most recent solo project throughout California, Sephardic Songs of the Sea, a solo show combining Ladino songs and kabbalistic teachings. While in Morocco she toured throughout the country performing a program called 3 women, 3 voices, 3 religions – the Woman’s Path together with internationally known artists Begoña Olavide and Samira Kadiri. Paloma has appeared on US national television (Hallmark Channel) and on National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Radio International (PRI) as well as on Moroccan national television (2M) and radio and Colombian radio and television. Paloma has published in OLAM magazine and in Hadassah’s anthology on women’s prayer: Pray Tell. She recently published her first book entitled Mystic Siren: Woman’s Voice in the Balance of Creation. She presented papers at the Association for Jewish Studies, Abdelmalek Esaadi University’s conferences on Tetouan’s history and Culture and New Perspectives for Peace after 9/11, Performing Tangier, Festival Andalousies Atlantiques in Essaouira, GEMELA (Women in Spain and the Americas before 1800) and the Society for Crypto-Jewish Studies among others. Ms. Paloma leads workshops and gives classes on Jewish mysticism, Sephardic culture and women’s religious expression.

In addition to being the Founding Artistic Director of the SYNERGY ensemble of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity and its leader until 2003, Paloma was a soloist with Long Beach Opera, Camerata Pacifica Baroque, Ensemble Nuance (Jerusalem) and the St. Paul Early Music Society among others. Grantors such as the Righteous Persons Foundation, The Maurice Amado Foundation, American Sephardi Federation, the United States State Department, American Friends of the Marranos and the California Council for the Humanities have funded her projects. In 2007 she was invited to Portugal to perform, teach and do research with Crypto-Jewish communities in Porto, Lisbon and Belmonte.

Paloma began her musical studies at a young age at the San Juan Children’s Choir in Puerto Rico and later continued at the Andes University in her native Bogotá, Colombia. After moving to the United States, Paloma studied at Indiana University’s School of Music where she received a Master of Music in Early Music performance, specializing in the music of medieval Spain. She studied Jewish Mysticism in the Old City of Jerusalem and continues her studies with Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh.

Paloma’s recent projects are focusing on the links between women, spirituality and creativity. She is currently writing a book on gender relationships in Sephardic Romances from Northern Morocco and its connection to women’s spiritual expression.

Music, Video, Image and Lyric Samples:

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Vanessa Paloma
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