Janam ( My Soul ) blends Balkan, Near Eastern and American roots and original music, creating rapturous acoustic textures, whirling rhythms and stunning vocal harmonies. Led by Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble veteran Juliana Graffagna, Janam unites some of the San Francisco Bay Area's most imaginative and devoted practitioners of Balkan and Near Eastern music, who weave together Eastern exoticism, gritty Appalachian folk melodies and their own inspired compositions.
Janam’s founder Juliana Graffagna (julianagraffagna.com) fell in love with Balkan and Eastern European folk music in the late 80's and hasn't stopped singing it since. As a veteran vocalist and music director of the internationally acclaimed Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble (kitka.org), Juliana has performed extensively throughout the U.S. and Eastern Europe, appearing in projects as diverse as Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares 50th anniversary concert in Sofia, Bulgaria, and on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion". She has studied vocal technique with master singers Tzvetanka Varimezova, Mariana Sadovska, Merita Halili, Donka Koleva, Carl Linich and Christos Govetas and has been featured on numerous recordings and film soundtracks. Juliana also performs with True Life Trio (truelifetrio.com).
Multi-instrumentalist and occasional vocalist Shira Kammen has spent well over half her life exploring the worlds of early and traditional music. A member for many years of the early music Ensembles Alcatraz and Project Ars Nova, and Medieval Strings, she has also worked with Sequentia, Hesperion XX, the Boston Camerata, the Balkan group Kitka, the King’s Noyse, the Newberry and Folger Consorts, the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals, Rose of the Compass, Anonymous IV, the California Revels, and is the founder of Class V Music, an ensemble dedicated to providing music on river rafting trips. She has performed and taught in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Morocco, Latvia, Russia and Japan, and on the Colorado, Rogue, Green, Grande Ronde, John Day, East Carson and Klamath Rivers.
Shira happily collaborated with singer/storyteller John Fleagle for fifteen years, and performs now with several groups: a medieval ensemble, Fortune’s Wheel: a new music group, Ephemeros; an eclectic ethnic band, Panacea; an English Country Dance band, Roguery, the early music ensembles Cançoniér and In Bocca al Lupo, as well as frequent collaborations in theatrical and dance productions. She has worked with students in many different settings, among them teaching summer music workshops in the woods, coaching students of early music at Yale University, Case Western, the University of Oregon at Eugene, and working at specialized seminars at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, Italy and the Scuola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland, and recently joined the music faculty of Mills College in Oakland, CA.
She has played on several television and movie soundtracks, including ‘O’, a modern high school-setting of Othello and ‘’The Nativity Story’, and has worked with many diverse artists in diverse projects, among them singers Azam Ali and Joanna Newsom, poet Jane Hirshfield, storyteller/harpist Patrick Ball, medieval music experts Margriet Tindemans and Anne Azema, percussionists Peter Maund and Glen Velez. Some of her original music can be heard in an independent film about fans of the work of JRR Tolkien. The strangest place Shira has played is in the elephant pit of the Jerusalem Zoo.
Tom has been playing in Bay Area Balkan rhythm sections since 1994. He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays a variety of stringed instruments and drums. He was a long time member of The Helladelics, Brass Menažeri, Anoush, and Top Dog Run. In addition to Balkan music, Tom also writes and records his own folk-rock songs.
It was love at first sight 30 years ago when Dan Auvil saw the large, two-headed drum called the tupan, which is one of the drums he plays in the band. Dan has toured and taught internationally and was a founding member of the Balkan groups Édessa and Ziyiá. He currently plays with the Bulgarian grupa Trio Zulum.
An extraordinary and soulful musician, Gari Hegedus plays violin, viola and a variety of stringed instruments from Greece and Turkey including lauoto, oud, saz and hand drums. Gari plays in the duo Teslim with violinist Kaila Flexer (kailaflexer.com/teslim), and performs with world music group Stellamara (stellamara.com) and Persian vocalist Hamed Nikpay (hamednikpay.com). He has studied with oud master Naseer Shamma and has recorded and performed with Ross Daly. He has toured with the Mevlevi Dervish (Sufi) Order of America and continues to participate in Turkish ceremonial and devotional gatherings around the country.