Ester Rada Ester Rada Ester Rada recently wrapped up a 40-city tour of North America. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Introducing Ester Rada, the jazz singer who will make your soul swoon

Singer who sounds like a mix of Aretha Franklin and Lauryn Hill is quickly gaining international acclaim.

Ester Rada, the world is yours.

The 29-year-old singer and actress, who just completed a 40-city tour of North America, including headlining the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in May, has gained worldwide acclaim with her music that is a testament to her cross-cultural upbringing (she was born in Israel to Ethiopian parents).

Her performances pay homage to soul and jazz legends Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, but her singing style also evokes contemporary R&B powerhouses such as Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.

Rada said she struggled as a child to forge an identity that diverged from both her Ethiopian parents and her Israeli friends. Around age 10, she discovered MTV, and her world suddenly opened.

"When I was young I was very much confused," Rada told The Star-Ledger. "I didn't know who I was – at home I had an Ethiopian culture, language and mentality, and outside I had a completely different thing. I thought I would have to choose a side. Only when I grew up did I realize I don't have to choose. I am a lot of things, and that is the beauty of us as human beings."

Ester Rada performingEster Rada was born to Ethiopian parents and grew up in Israel. (Photo: Tal Peled/Flickr)

Rada has recently broken onto the international stage, earning critical praise for her combination of R&B, Ethio-Jazz, reggae and classic funk. Having performed at the Glastonbury Music Festival in the United Kingdom and opened for Alicia Keys, she released her first full-length album, "Ester Rada," in March.


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows