Vanessa Paloma


VANESSA PALOMA is a singer, performer, scholar and writer specializing in Sephardic women's songs and their connection to women's spiritual expression.  Internationally known for this repertoire, she has performed on five continents.

See her singing a traditional Judeo-Spanish song, Moises salio de Mitzrayim

Paloma began her musical studies in childhood, later continuing at the Andes University in her native Bogotá, Colombia. After moving to the United States, she studied at Indiana University’s School of Music, where she received a Master of Music in early music performance, specializing in the music of medieval Spain.  In Los Angeles, she founded Flor de Serena, a Judeo-Spanish ensemble.

Currently Research Associate of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, Paloma was a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar and Artist in Morocco during 2007-2008.  Living for a year in the old walled city of Tangier, on a street where Jewish families had lived for a century, she “felt the pull of the wisdom of generations.” As she studied the songs of the Romancero tradition, she was soon traveling and performing them throughout Morocco, introducing many Moroccans to this powerful and haunting repertoire.

Of Spanish Moroccan ancestry herself, Paloma is now based in Casablanca and is the founder and director of KHOYA: Jewish Morocco Sound Archive, which serves as a repository of the memory and music of Morocco’s Jewish community and is available to the public at their site in Casablanca.

Paloma’s performances have taken her from the United States and Morocco to the UK, Spain, France, Portugal, Israel, Colombia and China.  She has appeared on television and radio in the US (the Hallmark Channel, NPR and PRI), Colombia, Morocco, Spain and Italy.

Paloma has performed from the World Festival for Sacred Music in Los Angeles to the Tangier American Legation Museum; from Cambridge University to UC Berkeley; from the Abdelmalek Esaadi University in Tetouan to the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles; from the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis to the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe; from the Xinjian University in China to the Women’s Voices Festival in Morocco.  Her “Seas of Change” program, which addresses migration experiences, has been performed to great acclaim in dozens of venues throughout the US and Israel.

Recent academic conference participations have been the International Council for Traditional Music’s study group on Andalusia and its Jewish Diasporas at Cambridge University, England, Musiques en Méditerranées rencontres et échanges au Moyen-Age et au delà at St. Guilhelm le Desert, France and Jews of Morocco at University College London.  Other recent conferences include European University Institute in Florence, Italy, Migrations au Maghreb in Essaouira, Morocco, Association for Jewish Studies in Washington DC, Crypto-Jewish Studies Association, Sephardic Memory in Colorado Springs, Grupo de Estudios de la Mujer en España y Latinoamerica antes de 1800 and Performing Tangier among others.

A recording artist and writer, Paloma is the author of Mystic Siren:  Woman’s Voice in the Balance of Creation, a book that addresses women’s issues and spirituality.  Her most recent book is a collection of short mystical stories entitled The Mountain, the Desert and the Pomegranate: stories from Morocco and beyond.

She is currently a doctoral candidate at the Sorbonne (INALCO) in Paris preparing a dissertation on Judeo-Spanish women’s songs from Northern Morocco and has been selected for the prestigious Fellows program of the Posen Foundation.

For more information go to:
Vanessa Paloma - YouTube
Vanessa Paloma - Facebook

Awards and Recognitions
Senior Fulbright Research Scholar and Artist Morocco 2007-2008
Posen Scholar

Research Associate
Hadassah Brandeis Institute
Women's Studies Research Center
at Brandeis University

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Translated by
Vanessa Paloma Elbaz