Amirtha Kidambi is invested in the creation and performance of subversive anti-hegemonic music, from free improvisation and avant-jazz to experimental bands, noise and new music. She is an educator, activist and organizer working to challenge systems of white supremacist, colonial, capitalist, and patriarchy, and is co-founder and co-organizer of South Asian Artists in Diaspora and Musicians Against Police Brutality.
As a bandleader and composer, Kidambi is the creative force behind the incendiary protest group Elder Ones and has received critical praise for dual releases on Northern Spy records from the New York Times, Pitchfork, Wire Magazine and Downbeat, topping Critics Poll in the categories of "Rising Star Vocalist," "Rising Star Composer" and "Rising Star Jazz Group." Kidambi is active in several improvising duos with bassist Luke Stewart, guitarist Matteo Liberatore and Neti-Neti with percussionist Matt Evans, with releases on Astral Spirits, Tripticks Tapes and Dinzu Artefacts. Kidambi is a key collaborator in MacArthur “genius” Mary Halvorson's sextet Code Girl, the duo Angels & Demons with saxophonist Darius Jones (setting the poetry of Sun Ra) and various collaborations with bassist William Parker. She had the honor of working with late elders Muhal Richard Abrams, founder of the AACM, and new music opera composer Robert Ashley.
Kidambi has performed and presented her music in the U.S. and internationally at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, The Kitchen, Whitney Museum, MoMA PS1, Berlin Jazzfest, Big Ears Festival and various DIY and punk spaces. Kidambi has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Mid-Atlantic Arts and artist residencies at EMPAC, Roulette, Pioneer Works and Bucareli 69 in Mexico City. She holds degrees in vocal performance, musicology and ethnomusicology from Loyola Marymount University, Brooklyn College and Columbia University, and has been engaged with decolonizing curriculum, teaching courses and ensembles at The New School and Brooklyn College. Kidambi is a visiting faculty member at Bennington for Fall 2023.
Photo credit: Acudus Aranyian