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Shara Nova

Detroit, MI         

Shara Worden is an internationally renowned composer and vocalist whose versatility moves her seamlessly from opera halls to black box theaters to marching band festivals around the world. A classically trained opera singer, Worden has built a body of new classical music that reflects the breadth of her vocal mastery while surging forward into the fresh spaces of the today’s contemporary music landscape.  


Born in diamond-rich Arkansas and raised all across the United States, Worden came from a musical family of traveling evangelists who were classically trained professional musicians.  At home, Chopin was performed right after Andre Crouch, Manhattan Transfer played after Michael Jackson, Bach after Nat King Cole.  The juxtaposition of popular music, classical and gospel were the families’ norm.  As a high school student in Michigan, Shara was exposed to Detroit radio of the late 80’s and early 90’s, listening to rap, hip hop and R&B greats on the way to school, where she was in an internationally competitive classical choir singing Debussy, Honegger and Samuel Barber.  She went on to study operatic voice, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Vocal Performance from the University of North Texas. Later moving to New York, studied classical composition privately with Padma Newsome.


Worden’s growing body of work fills a unique space in contemporary classical music. As the songwriter/performer/composer/singer/instrumentalist known as My Brightest Diamond, Worden has developed a new sound entirely, melding traditional Italian opera techniques with the tools and textures of digital technology. The unity of her approach transforms the rigor and complexity of her compositions into a pop synthesis of riveting technique and irresistible sonic turns. A series of exciting collaborations and cross-pollination continue pushing her work and sound into new territory.


Worden’s multi-faceted career includes: international acclaim as a prolific and gifted vocal and instrumental composer, commissioned by such entities as the Kresge Foundation, for whom she wrote instrumental music for a Detroit marching band; featured performances in multiple works written specifically for Worden’s voice by award-winning composers such as Pulitzer prize winner David Lang; and worldwide popularity as My Brightest Diamond.


In 2013, Worden completed the chamber opera You Us We All, with libretto by Andrew Ondrejcak. The work was composed for the Belgian baroque ensemble BOX, four singers (including Worden), and one actor.  The fully staged opera was performed at deSingel, Hamburg Summer Festival (2013) and the Holland Festival (2014) and will have its US premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater as part of the Next Wave Festival in 2015.  


Under the moniker My Brightest Diamond, Worden has released 4 albums on Asthmatic Kitty Records – Bring Me The Workhorse, A Thousand Sharks’ Teeth, All Things Will Unwind, featuring songs written by Worden for the chamber ensemble yMusic, and This Is My Hand. The primary focus of the project is to play within pop forms using classical instrumentation and arrangements.  The most recent album, This Is My Hand, is based upon themes from Daniel Levitan’s book, "The World In Six Songs" and is arranged for marching band with a keen emphasis on audience participation.  


Worden has composed multiple chamber works for mixed ensembles, string quartet, orchestral arrangements and choral works for such ensembles including:  So Percussion, Eighth Blackbird, yMusic, the BBC Concert Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Clara Schumann Children’s Choir and the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus.  She has toured extensively throughout Europe, the UK, The United States, Japan, Singapore and Australia for the past ten years.

In addition to the development of her own compositions, Worden has collaborated and appeared on dozens of recordings with such artists as David Lang, Steve Mackey, Nico Muhly, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, David Byrne, Justin Vernon (Grammy Award Winner) Bryce Dessner (of The National), The Blind Boys of Alabama (Grammy Award Winner), Sarah Kirkland Snider, Gabriel Kahane, and artists Matthew Barney, Matthew Ritchie, and Laurie Anderson. Worden has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.

This Is My Hand: “Pressure”

Composed and arranged by Shara Worden

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All Things Will Unwind: “Be Brave”

Composed for the chamber ensemble yMusic: Rob Moose, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Alex Sopp, piccolo; Hideaki Aomori, bass clarinet; CJ Camerieri, trumpet and French horn and dancer, Jessica Dessner.

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You Us We All preview

Promotional video for Worden’s 70 minute, contemporary chamber ensemble piece based on 17th century masques, composed for 10 piece baroque ensemble, four singers & one actor entitled “You Us We All”.

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