Quality time spent with Alita Moses means baked goods, champagne, and animated movies from childhood...if you’ve known her for the better part of a decade, like I have. For us mere mortals, this 6-ish ft tall powerhouse of a jazz singer from New York is a blessing to have in your life, whether you know her as an artist, bandmate, or friend.
Taking the stage in West Hartford, CT, Alita began performing jazz solos her freshman year of high school. From then on she knew “a career in music was like choosing to breathe - it came naturally.” All four years, she dominated the annual variety show with an unintentional balance that radiated talent, but her humble semblance didn’t make you second guess telling her what a wonderful performance she had after the show.
Then there was college - specifically University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA earning a BM in Jazz Vocal Performance. “Being in Philly gave me a greater love and understanding for soul and R&B” as well as giving her a range of genres to apply her voice to. She performed with Ill Doots at World Cafe Live, The Voice contestant Matt McAndrew (plus 7 glorious seconds in this Vine) and showed off her stellar vocal range at her senior recital in 2015. She gave me a shout out during her thank yous. I cried.
Eight years of experience doesn’t just come from the Northeast of the United States, you need to move around a little bit. Alita’s voice has echoed all across the globe. From the Fringe Festival in Scotland, to winning the internationally renowned Montreux Jazz Vocal Competition in Switzerland. It was there she opened for the late Al Jarreau in a welcoming, magical performance as if you were there with family.
Alita’s credentials and life experience could inspire a book. Her story has the ability to make you cry. However, she will easily carry a conversation that leads to her snorting mid-laugh. She is the type of person that makes a living off of being a jazz singer at 23, and the assumption is that she still has a side-hustle. No. Singing as absolutely not a side thing. She is just that damn good.
Being a woman, (and a woman of color, at that) Alita has also seen her rounds of sexism and misogyny throughout her career. From the rage inducing “no offense, but…” to ridiculing her relationships, or lack of, with other artists. These accusations and discriminatory language doesn’t only come from male peers that are artists and musicians, but audience members, too. Standing up to this treatment isn’t always an option, because losing a gig or threatening an important connection is a risk not everyone has the liberty of taking.
Women of all shapes, sizes, colors, in every industry sees this. There are actions you cannot take because too much is on the line. Frustration fills up inside you when these situations present themselves, especially if you find yourself silenced by self control. Luckily, Alita has an incredible support system of women who can empathize and stand with her in solidarity. When asked about the role women have played in her life, she articulates the need for all-around support from women perfectly:
“I always say that I have about 5 different moms and 10 sisters because of the incredibly strong, caring community of women who have helped get me where I am now. Whether it was driving me to choir rehearsals, flying across the world to see me perform, teaching me how to sing correctly and healthily, giving me vintage gowns and dresses for performances, housing me, and so much more, I am in complete debt to the female tribe of family, friends, teachers, mentors, and peers in my life. They know who they are and they know I love them dearly and thank them to eternity.”
Her drive comes from her mother’s run on Broadway and father’s musical background at The Hartt School. Creative inspiration stems from female role models such as Janelle Monae, Ella Fitzgerald, Lianne La Havas, St. Vincent, Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote, and Kimbra. “All goddesses. All geniuses. All humanitarians. All generally wonderful.” Just like Alita.