ROYA is a songstress blending pop, jazz and her eastern roots into a soulful, spirited expression of truth. Her voice, both sweet and sultry, pairs well with an acoustic guitar and the midnight sun.
For Roya, music is a powerful gateway for the expression of personal truths and reflections on spirituality and love. The power of Roya’s music emanates from the enduring sincerity and tenderness of her lyricism, which testifies to her spirited, sometimes genre-defying sense of creative possibility. Whether performing solo, as an acoustic duo, or with her five piece band, she brings a depth of musicality and energy to the stage. Roya was recently awarded the Edmonton Arts Council Cultural Diversity in the Arts grant to record her debut album Breath & Being, set to release in 2021.
My earliest recollections of song came from hearing my father chant prayers in his native tongue, Farsi. Hearing my father’s invocation, his voice cry out in song, would often move me to tears. It was the rawness of his expression, the longing of being an immigrant displaced from home, and the cry out to his creator, that introduced me to the concept of music being used as a higher form of connection to and expression of the Divine. My father escaped his home country of Iran at the age of twenty-one, and moved to Canada as a religious refugee. He moved to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for work, after marrying my mother, of Ukrainian descent. My sister and I were born and raised in Yellowknife and my parents have lived up north for over thirty years. It is interesting that I feel such a strong connection to my Persian and Ukrainian heritages, having grown up in an isolated community far away from our family and culture.
I began singing as a young girl and on my musical journey have discovered that my voice inherently possesses the cultural memories of my Persian and Ukrainian heritage. These sounds, invocations and melodies come from a deep part of me I do not fully understand. I feel a responsibility and a deep desire to weave these cultural traditions into my creative work. It is my mission to express and reimagine these narratives into new contemporary musical expressions by mixing Eastern influences with the cultural practices of jazz, folk and pop music, to create my own expression of being.
I often struggle to find a place of belonging – I do not fully fit into a singular cultural community. Rather, I find myself weaving between my Middle Eastern, Ukrainian, Canadian and Baha’i communities in a multi-faceted way. I am constantly searching for a place, a genre, to explain and express myself. The question of who I am and where I belong is at the core of my artistic practice. Through music, poetry, and dance I explore these dualities within myself and seek to capture facets of my identity. Through my artistic practice, I am constantly discovering who I am and sharing it with the world, in hopes that I will find some sense of belonging in the music, in the act of creation.