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Nubya Garcia

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Garcia was born in 1991 in Camden Town, London to a Guyanese mother, a former civil servant, and a British Trinidadian filmmaker father, the youngest of four siblings. Her uncle is John R. Rickford, who is the J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University. Garcia followed her three older siblings to the local Saturday music center at the age of 5, where she first learned the violin and later played the viola in the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO).

Garcia has said her home life with her stepdad, a brass player with a vast collection of instruments, and her mother a keen collector of all genres of music from reggae and Latin to classical and soul, coupled with the music activities at school, Camden School for Girls, meant she was saturated with music of all genres. Garcia began learning the saxophone at the age of 10, with Vicky Wright. She became a member of the Camden Jazz Band, directed by jazz pianist Nikki Yeoh, before joining the junior jazz program at the Royal Academy of Music. She also attended the workshops of Tomorrow’s Warriors under the direction of Gary Crosby.

While still in high school, she received a scholarship for a five-week summer program at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. During her gap year she studied with former Jazz Messengers member, Jean Toussaint. In 2016 she graduated with honours from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, in Jazz Performance. In 2017, Garcia released her debut EP Nubya’s 5ive via the label Jazz re:freshed. That year, her band was an opening act at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in Sète; the following year she played at the NYC Winter Jazz Festival and the JazzFest Berlin. In her 2018 EP When We Are, Garcia explored how electronics can be used in a live jazz environment; the EP was created with the support of the Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award, a development project between PRS Foundation and Steve Reid Foundation. She is also a member of the collective Nérija and the Afro-jazz ensemble Maisha.

In addition, she is a collaborator on albums by Makaya McCraven, Theon Cross, Moses Boyd, and Sons of Kemet to Shabaka Hutchings; contributions from her can be found on five tracks of Brownswoods We Out Here, a sampler album from the modern London jazz scene. Garcia tours internationally, in Europe, India, Australia, and North America. She regularly performs at festivals in the UK including Love Supreme Jazz Festival and NN North Sea Jazz Festival. She has headlined sell-out shows at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Garcia also has a burgeoning reputation as a DJ, with a monthly radio residency on NTS Radio since November 2017. Garcia was supposed to perform at the Glastonbury Festival, which had to be cancelled due to the increasing concerns over the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.

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