Amikaeyla Proudfoot Gaston has been guest performing with KIVA for many years and she went to England with us in 1998.
Born Amy Marie Gaston in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1968, Amikaeyla moved with her family to Potomac, Maryland, at age 6. She'd already begun piano studies with her mother, Dr. Marilyn LuAnne Hughes Gaston, and continued with a private teacher in Maryland, performing youth recitals with the National Symphony through high school.
Her father, Alonzo DuBois Gaston, played bass and conga drums with such artists as James Brown, Fats Domino, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk before becoming a professor at Howard University. There he served as the university's liaison to Africa, and often the whole family went along on trips to Africa as well as Israel, Greece, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico.
Dr. Gaston, a pioneer in screening children for sickle cell disease, served as Director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration from 1990 to 2001, working under three Surgeons General. "These are people who were always in my life and in my thinking, which is why music as medicine plays such a strong role in my life," Amikaeyla says.
As a young woman, Amikaeyla performed around the DC area with West African, R&B, South Indian, Celtic, straight-ahead jazz, and Americana folk groups (including KIVA), winning eight Washington Area Music Association Awards in the process. In a 1999 Washington Post review of a CD by Bottomland, an R&B band in which she was featured, Mike Joyce wrote, "...best of all, singer Amikaeyla Gaston's sinuous voice, sultry and spirited by turns."
In 2003 in Michigan, Amikaeyla encountered five white men who screamed racial epithets at her, then ran over her with a truck, crushing her ribs into her lungs and causing third-degree burns over 70 percent of her lower body. She spent three months in intensive care, following by nearly a year in recovery. "I died and came back," she says. Musician friends from many cultures gathered in her room at Bethesda Naval Hospital to play and pray for her recovery. "The blessing of all that is it allowed me to explore medicine in a way that was larger than what I'd been exposed to as a child, which was just Western medicine," she reflects. "I experienced the power of music as medicine and I experienced the power of intentional prayer. It changed my life."
Amikaeyla recorded her debut album, Mosaic, in Washington in 2004 following her recovery, and since 2007 has been dividing her time between Washington and Oakland. In 2006, she traveled to New Delhi, India to sing for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his request and founded the International Cultural Arts and Healing Sciences Institute shortly thereafter. She has since traveled throughout the world on its behalf. In 2010, she worked in the Middle East with Iraqi and Palestinian refugee children to help alleviate the pain and trauma caused by war. This year, she traveled to Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. "I'm so blessed to travel as a cultural ambassador," says Amikaeyla. "I've seen people coping with the stress of living and keeping their families together through war, poverty, and so much more yet we always connected through music. Music and love are always present."
News: Amikaeyla was the winner of 5 Wammy Awards for 2004 -- best jazz vocalist, best urban contemporary vocalist, best jazz recording, best world music recording, & best debut album for "Mosaic"!
Eve has recently moved to NYC to pursue her happiness and has become a satellite member of KIVA. Eve grew up in a musical family -- she started taking piano lessons when
she was 7 years old and flute when she was 10 while also taking ballet and
drama. When it became clear that she was a mesomorph and wouldn't have the
classical ballet body she moved into the modern dance style. In her early
20's Eve started taking drum lessons with Glenn Weber in the Latin/Caribbean
styles of percussion as well as every drum workshop she could get into which
added African percussion styles to her repertoire. As you can hear on the
albums with KIVA she has done very well with those lessons.
Eve has worked on "Alchemy", "Mother Wisdom", "Finding the Balance Within", "Live at the Forest Inn (v1)", "Fairy Gifts: Celtic Folk Tales", "Songs of Mysts and Moon" (Amergyn & KIVA), "KIVA's Excellent English Excursion", "A Call to Beauty", and "Armageddon Calling".
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Revision Date: August 3, 2012