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Crystal Salt

WELCOME
Let's celebrate creative expressions 
connections & collaborations. 

About Me

Peace and Blessings, I am Zahra.  a vocalist, ritualist, performer and teaching artist. As a folk, and experimental vocalist, dramatic actor, and an engaging storyteller, working over the past 35 years in Chicago,  I am honored to have collaborated with phenomenal musicians, poets, dancers, artists, filmmakers, storytellers and wellness practitioners.

Born in Colfax, Louisiana, singing was a place I found comfort and self-expression.  My first experiences with music were with my grandmother. Whether preparing food, sewing quilts, attending church, or sitting on the porch, she sang through her daily life.  After her death, my family experienced episodes of trauma and I I was relocated to Indiana. My world was turned upside down and I found nothing familiar or welcoming about my new environment until I attended a Baptist Church and felt the music dance in my bones. It lifted my spirit. It reminded me of home. I started singing so loudly that I was invited to join the adult choir at five years old.

Music became my outlet for expressing both joy and sorrow.  It became the place i could turn to for comfort and compassion.   I came  to realize that the folk songs of my childhood had helped me to overcome my challenges.  This realization led me into self- discovery and the study of African American music and story.  I became driven to discover and validate the legacy of African American oral traditions. What began as a personal experience has evolved into the independent study of African American people and our relationship with sound.

 

i am a member of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and the National Association of Black Storytellers and a 3Arts Make A Wave recipient. My performance history includes “In the Spirit,” (Storytelling duo of African American stories and songs); Shanta Nurullah’s Sitarsys,

Moment to Moment with Hamid Drake, Classic Black (Jazz and Storytelling Ensemble) and Freedom Song Leaders (Communal singing ensemble). Performance venues include M3 Festival, Constellation Chicago, The Old Town School of Folk, The Chicago Jazz Festival, The National Association of Black Storytellers Conference and Festivals, The Guild Complex, The Chicago Cultural Center, Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival, Rhode Island Black Storytelling Festival and countless Schools, Museums and Festivals.  

 

My deepest desire is to explore sound in a way that finds ways to connect with our true sense of self, with each other, with nature, with the supreme being, and with the past, present and future.  

I hope to honor my ancestry through the preservation of this living tradition of vocal expression.

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