Artist Statement, Bio, & CV

Artist Statement:

If I give a name to the humming of your body, 
Your morning, 
Your willpower, 
Will it change your song? 

  
My work utilizes immersive, multisensory, multidisciplinary experience as a means to blur the boundaries in relation to art as ritual and ritual as art. My work examines the relationship between the evolution and devolution of archetypal female figures and the identification with these chimerical forms. I also examine the intimacy and surrender that can be experienced in the state of acknowledged unknowing. 

I work in a number of different media but primarily as a performance and sound installation artist; building sound-scapes that utilize narrative, musical performance, and layered textural resonance. The pieces contain installations (primarily audio and video) that are coupled with live performance that is capable of remaining in the space after the performance has finished; acting as the enduring reverberation of live action in dead space. 

Specifically, in its invisible and physically non-dependent capabilities, sound characterizes the dynamic tension that our bodies convey as bearers of our personal histories (and the histories of our ancestors), while existing in the fragile and terrestrial present tense.  In my work, the reckless vulnerability of that temporality is expressed in the dynamism and power of live performance coupled with remaining sound installations; the trance-like states that are elicited in the audience are critical to the work. 

Humans continuously hunger for ritual that induces trance and, throughout time, these experiences have been appropriated into religious dogma. My work creates a context for that experience within a different paradigm.

In addition to this interdisciplinary work, I am the lead singer, keyboardist,  and main composer for the musical group HuDost.



Bio:
 

Moksha Sommer is a full-time artist who is active in Music Performance and Composition, 2D and 3D media, Interdisciplinary Intermedia Studies and Practices, Arts Production, Performance/New Genre Art, Feminist Art and Theory, and Social Activist Art. She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BFA from Montreal’s Concordia University; both received with Great Distinction. In the last two years she has received two grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and one from the Kentucky Women’s Foundation. Her work utilizes immersive, multi-sensory, multidisciplinary experience as a means to blur the boundaries in relation to art as ritual and ritual as art and the intimacy and surrender that can be experienced in the state of acknowledged unknowing. Her primary and ongoing musical project is ‘HuDost’. 

The music of HuDost, the Neo Folk World Rock Ensemble from Montreal and KY, weaves a seamless tapestry of sound that renders tears and laughter in listeners, cultivating the nameless longing that abides somewhere in all our hearts and invokes total celebration.  HuDost’s core musicians are Moksha Sommer and Jemal Wade Hines. Having toured the US, Canada, and Europe constantly since April 2006, HuDost has grown and expanded, travelled rocky and glorious terrain and marveled at all they can learn and explore. Moksha and Jemal Wade, in this time have grown as artists, as seekers, as a couple and as a family. In 2013 their amazing son was brought into the world. 

HuDost is currently in the studio recording a new album and also have a larger project in the works. The new album will be released in 2018. Their last two records were a World Chant ‘Sufi Kirtan’ album as well as a collaborative record with Steve Kilbey of the Australian band The Church with special guest Jon Anderson of YES. Both received rave reviews. On past albums HuDost has worked with Grammy Winner Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel) and Grammy Winner Oz Fritz (Tom Waits, Bill Laswell, Primus).  

HuDost often collaborates with musicians, dancers, and artists of varying sensibilities and backgrounds. Their instrumentation includes vocals, harmonium (Indian Pump-Organ), Shahi Baaja (Electric Indian Auto-Harp), guitars, Bazouki, Dulcinet, percussion, and a slew of sonic ambient effects. Their music is a rich, eclectic blending of Pop and Rock with traditional Sufi music, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian and Balkan folk music, Farsi, Turkish, Arabic, and Folk. Their sound crosses all borders and barriers, taking the listener on a journey they will never forget. 

Highlight Performances Include Bonnaroo, Resident band at FloydFest, BhaktiFest, World Café Live, Blissfest, The ARK, Alex Grey’s CoSM, the Salvador Dali Museum, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, headlining The Islands Folk Fest (Vancouver), WMNF’s Tropical Heat Wave Festival, The Levitt Pavilions, WoodSongs at the Kentucky Theater (on PBS), Nashville’s Bluebird Café, Music City Roots, Tim Robbins’ WTF?! Fest, The Montreal Folk Festival, The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, and many more… 

Highlight Collaborations/ Opening for other artists Include Ani DiFranco, Philip Glass, Jon Anderson, Joan Osborne, Snatam Kaur, Steve Kilbey, Marty Willson-Piper, Ramy Essam, California Guitar Trio, Bell Orchestre, Neko Case, Jim Lauderdale, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Mercan Dede, and many more…

Curriculum Vitae- 

Moksha Sommer 

518-210-7731  mokshasommer@hudost.com   

118 Orchard St, Morgantown, KY 42261 

HuDost (Primary Project): www.hudost.com  

Artist Website: www.mokshasommer.com 

 

AREAS OF FOCUS 

Music Performance and Composition; 2D and 3D media; Interdisciplinary Intermedia Studies and Practices; Arts Production; Performance/New Genre Art; Feminist Art and Theory; Social Activist Art 

 

EDUCATION  

Vermont College of Fine Arts- Montpelier, VT 

MFA: Completed February, 2017 

Concentration in Interdisciplinary and Intermedia Performance Art 

Concordia University- Montreal, QC 

BFA in Studio Arts: Completed May, 2006 

Concentration in Sculpture (large scale installation, video work, and multimedia performance) and Chamber Music for Voice 

Degree Conferred With Great Distinction 

Final Graduation GPA In Program:  4.06  

Dawson College- Montreal, QC 

Collegiate degree in Creative Arts: Completed May, 2001 

 

APPOINTMENTS 

HuDost – 2006 - Present 

Composer, lyricist, songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist and primary performer for all HuDost releases and performances. 
Creator of all video and sculptural installations used for HuDost performances. 
Visual Artist for HuDost releases. 
Responsible for performance production, management, web design, and bookings. 

ONE (Non-Profit Organization)- 2015- Present- Congressional District Representative (for KY-2); Working to end extreme poverty. 

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS AND PERFORMANCES 

Note: Highlight Performances Include Bonnaroo, FloydFest, BhaktiFest, World Café Live, Blissfest, Alex Grey’s CoSM, the Salvador Dali Museum, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, The Montreal Folk Festival, The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, The Islands Folk Festival (Vancouver), The Levitt Pavilions, WoodSongs at the Kentucky Theater (on PBS), Nashville’s Bluebird Café, Music City Roots, Tim Robbins’ WTF?! Fest, and many more. Additional dates are detailed below. 

Highlight Collaborations/ Openings for other artists include Ani DiFranco, Philip Glass, Jon Anderson, Joan Osborne, Snatam Kaur, Steve Kilbey and Marty Wilson-Piper (Australian Hall of Fame band ‘The Church’), California Guitar Trio, Bell Orchestre, Neko Case, Jim Lauderdale, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Mercan Dede, Ramy Essam, Coleman Barks (primary Rumi translator), and many more. On past albums HuDost has worked with Grammy Winner Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel) and Grammy Winner Oz Fritz (Tom Waits, Bill Laswell, Primus). 

 

PRIZES/AWARDS/GRANTS 

2017- Canada Council For the Arts- Artists Abroad Grant 

2016- The Kentucky Foundation for Women- Artist Enrichment Grant 

2015- Canada Council for the Arts- Travel Grants to Artists 

2015- Successful IndieGogo Campaign- (In this campaign, $40,000 was raised in order to complete two recording projects) 

2007 - The Whole Foods Artist’s Travel/Study Grant: This grant enabled travel through India and Turkey, studying with master musicians from various traditions. 

2009 - The Rising Tide International Recording Grant 

 

HIGHLIGHT PERFORMANCES 

2017 HIGHLIGHTS- 

Lowe Mills ARTS- Huntsville, AL- September, 2017 

Levitt AMP Berea Music Series- Berea, KY- September, 2017 

Levitt AMP Utica Music Series- Utica, NY- August, 2017 

Levitt AMP Music Series- St. Johnsbury, VT- August, 2017 

Pentangle Arts- Woodstock, VT- August, 2017 

Stan Rogers Folk Festival- Chester, NS, Canada- July, 2017 

Festival Folk de Montreal- Montreal, QC, Canada- June, 2017 

The Woody Guthrie Center- Guthrie Green- Tulsa, OK- April, 2017 

The South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center- Cutler Bay, FL- April, 2017 

String Break Music Festival- Brooksville, FL- April, 2017 

 

2016 HIGHLIGHTS- 

Ahimsa Music Festival- Windham, NY- November 5-6, 2016 

69th Annual Original Ozark Folk Festival- October 14-15, 2016 

The ARK- Ann Arbor, MI- August 14, 2016 

Blissfest- Harbor Springs, MI- July 8-10, 2016 

ONCE Ballroom- Somerville, MA- June 25, 2016 

Nomades- Cycles des Saisons- Stoneham-Et-Tewkesbury, QC, CA- June 18, 2016 

FLOW, Loyola Chapel, Concordia University- Montreal, QC- June 17, 2016 

CoSM (collaborating with visual artist Alex Grey)- Wappingers Falls, NY- June 12, 2016 

Omega Institute- Rhinebeck, NY- June 11, 2016 

The Whitney Center for the Arts- Pittsfield, MA- June 10, 2016 

Eddie Owen Presents at Red Clay Theater- Duluth, GA- May 22, 2016 

Scruffy City Hall- Knoxville, TN- May 21, 2016 

Blood:Water- Nashville, TN- May 13, 2016 

Music City Roots- Franklin, TN- May 11, 2016 

Stringbreak Music Fest- Brooksville, FL- April 9, 2016 

WMNF 88.5FM Live Music Showcase- Tampa, FL- April 8, 2016 

Thomas Center for the Arts- Gainesville, FL- March 31, 2016 

Folk Alliance International- Kansas City, MO- February 18-20, 2016 

 

2015 HIGHLIGHTS- 

Healium Center- Atlanta, GA- November 19, 2015 

Michigan Festival of Sacred Music- Kalamazoo, MI- November 7, 2015 

Islands Folk Festival- Duncan, BC- July 25-26, 2015 

Blissfest- Harbor Springs, MI- July 11-12, 2015 

Pinnacle Mountain Art Center- Frelighsburg, QC- July 3, 2015 

FLOW, Loyola Chapel, Concordia University- Montreal, QC- June 26, 2015 

Pur Ete- Cycles Des Saisons- Quebec, QC- June 20, 2015 

Gaia-Danse Quebec- Quebec, QC- June 19, 2015 

Pentangle Arts Council- Woodstock, VT- June 14, 2015 

Omega Institute- Rhinebeck, NY- June 13, 2015 

Kripalu Center- Stockbridge, MA- June 10, 2015 

Thomas Center for the Arts- Gainesville, FL- April 19, 2015 

The New Orleans Sacred Music Festival- New Orleans, LA- March 14, 2015 

Plantation Galleries- Mobile, AL- March 12, 2015 

Chantlanta- Atlanta, GA- March 10, 2015 

 

2014 HIGHLIGHTS- 

Irvinton Town Hall Theater w/ Philip Glass- Irvington, NY- October 23, 2014 

The Whitney Center for the Arts- Pittsfield, MA – October 11, 2014 

FloydFest- Floyd, VA- July 24-26, 2014 

Mason District Amphitheater- Annandale, Va- July 18, 2014 

Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts- State College, PA- July 12, 2014 

BhaktiFest Mid-West- Madison, WI- June 21, 2014 

World Café Live at the Queen w/ Ani Difranco- Wilmington, DE- April 25, 2014 

Loyola Chapel- FLOW- Concordia University- Montreal, QC- March 28, 2014 

 

2013 HIGHLIGHTS- 

Tennessee Shines on WDVX- Knoxville, TN- October 14, 2013 

The Bluebird Café- Nashville, TN- October 6, 2013 

NECAT Studios- Nashville, TN- September 29, 2013 

The Eastern Townships Film Festival- Lac Brome, QC- August 15, 2013 

The Live Music Showcase on WMNF- Tampa, FL- April 19, 2013 

Music City Roots- Nashville, TN-  April 10, 2013 

 

2012 HIGHLIGHTS – 

CoSM- in collaboration with visual artist Alex Grey- Wappingers Falls, NY- November 4, 2012 

Scruffy City Roots- Knoxville, TN- September 30, 2012 (this performance was aired on NBC, PBS, and NPR) 

The Bluebird Café- Nashville, TN- September 16, 2012 

The Levitt Pavilion- Westport, CT- August 23, 2012 

Levitt Pavilion Steelstacks- Bethlehem, PA- August 19, 2012 

WXPN- Philadelphia, PA- August 17, 2012 

Musikfest- Bethlehem, PA- August 10, 2012 

The Islands Folk Festival- Duncan, British Columbia, Canada- July 21 & 22, 2012 (HuDost headlined this renowned festival) 

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival- Manchester, TN- July 7, 2012 

Tennessee Shines on WDVX- live broadcast performance with Joan Osborne- Knoxville, TN- April 12, 2012 

Music City Roots- Nashville, TN- April 11, 2012 (This was aired live on PBS, NPR, and NBC) 

Anaheim Convention Center- Ananheim, CA- January 20 & 21, 2012 

 

2011 HIGHLIGHTS – 

Northampton Center for the Arts- Northampton, MA- October 9, 2011 

Thomas Center for the Arts- Gainesville, FL- September 15, 2011 

Academy of Music Theatre- Northampton, MA- June 1, 2011 

St Paul’s University Auditorium-Ottawa, Ontario, Canada- May 29, 2011 

WMNF Tropical Heatwave Festival- Tampa, FL- May 14, 2011 

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival- Silk Hope, NC- April 23, 2011 

Narrows Center for the Arts (with the California Guitar Trio)- Fall River, MA- March 4, 2011 

 

2010 HIGHLIGHTS – 

Hawaii NPR- Wailuku, HI- December 8, 2010 

City of Hope Hospital- Los Angeles, CA- November 2, 2010 

Silco Theatre- Silver City, NM- October 22, 2010 

Tour des Arts- Frelighsburg, Quebec, Canada- July 11, 2010 

Woodsongs Radio Hour- Lexington, KY- June 14, 2010 

WMNF Center Stage- Tampa, FL- May 13, 2010 

Florida Music Festival- Orlando, FL- April 24, 2010 

International Folk Alliance- Memphis, TN- February 18-21, 2010 

Center for Southern Folklore- Memphis, TN- February 19, 2010 

 

2009 HIGHLIGHTS – 

WTF!!? Festival- The Actors Gang- Culver City, CA- November 28, 2009 (This festival included Jackson Browne, Tenacious D, Sarah Silverman, Tom Morello and Ben Gibbard) 

Omega Institute- Rhinebeck, NY- August 22, 2009 

Word x Word Festival- Pittsfield, MA- August 19, 2009 

Floydfest- Floyd, VA- July 24-26, 2009 

Levitt Shell- Memphis, TN- June 14, 2009 

Levitt Pavilion- Arlington, KY- June 11, 2009 

Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center- Tarpon Springs, FL- May 16, 2009 

Kripalu Institute- live performance with Alex Grey- Lenox, MA-February 7, 2009 

 

ADDITIONAL EARLIER HIGHLIGHTS – 

Eckhart College, FL- October 30, 2008 

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts- Philadelphia, PA- September 28, 2007 

European Tour- Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Holland- August, 2006 

The Salvador Dali Museum- St. Petersburg, FL- December, 2004 

 

ALBUMS/SOUND PUBLICATIONS 

2015- Sufi Kirtan: Sufi Kirtan delves into the depth of the human heart and how phenomenally accessible it is through music. Zikr is the Sufi term identifying a practice of chanting and singing; it literally means remembrance of breath, sound, love, consciousness, and of people, places, and situations needing one's awareness. This album was up for a Grammy and was ranked in the top 10 Consicuous albums of 2015.  

2015- The Word Is…: This album is a collaboration with Steve Kilbey (lead singer & bassist of The Church) for an experimental album. The record also features Jon Anderson of YES as a collaborator and performer. 

2013- 4th Way Folk: Album of songs. Sommer is the composer of all the works and is the primary performer. (Audio Publication) 

2012 - Good Morning Quantum Police: Collection of live performance improvisational work done in collaboration with artist E.J. Gold. (Audio Publication) 

2011 - Live at North Avenue: Live performance. (Audio Publication) 

2010 - Waking the Skeleton Key: Album of songs. Sommer is the composer of all the works and is the primary performer. (Audio Publication) 

2009 – CBC Outfront Program: This creative tapestry of Sommer’s music, interviews with surgeons, and storytelling, weaves the story of having non-physical seizures, the diagnosis of a brain tumor, the creation of the Trapeze album, and brain surgery. It was aired on CBC and NPR. Sommer co-produced it with Carma Jolly. 

2009 - Trapeze: Album of songs. Sommer is the composer of all the works and is the primary performer. (Audio Publication) 

2008 - Royal Mountain EP: Album of songs. Sommer is the composer of all the original works and is the primary performer. Also included on this EP are Turkish and Persian pieces learned through Sommer’s research from the Whole Foods Artist’s Travel/Study Grant. (Audio Publication) 

2007 - Archive Anomalies: Collection of experimental pieces, live performance, traditional Eastern European pieces and Appalachian folk songs. Sommer is the composer of all the original works and is the primary performer. (Audio Publication) 

2006 - Seedling: Album of songs. Sommer is the composer of all the works and is the primary performer. (Audio Publication) 

2005 - In an Eastern Rose Garden: Album of traditional and original compositions in the Sufi musical tradition of Hazrat Inayat Khan and the Rafai Marufi schools. (Audio Publication) 

 

RESIDENCIES AND TEACHING 

Guest Artist Teacher at Watkins Art Institute, Nashville, TN- February, 2018 

Guest Artist Teacher at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN- March, 2017 

Guest Artist Teacher at Watkins Art Institute, Nashville, TN- May and November 2016 

The Dome Theatre and Performing Arts Center, Loveland, CO – July, 2012 

The Zenith Camp, Campra, Switzerland – Summers of 2004 and 2006 

The Abode Camp, New Lebanon, NY – Summers of 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 

ADAM Art Center and Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico – February – April, 2002