UNIVERSAL ANCESTRY is the first album recorded and released in the United States by Slovak vocalist and lyricist HANKA G. She has previously released three albums in Europe. HANKA has lived in New York City since 2016 where she performs at all the local jazz hotspots. She produced UNIVERSAL ANCESTRY together with three stellar jazz musicians – JAMES HURT, SHEDRICK MITCHELL, and RODNEY KENDRICK. HANKA is a soulful singer who stretches the boundaries of jazz with her multi-cultural sensibilities. Her rich, warm tone, improvisational chops, and unique ability to fuse jazz, gospel, R&B, and Slovak folk music have drawn the attention of some of the top names in jazz.
HANKA says, “My latest project was framed through the lens of an immigrant in the USA trying to unite people with different musical heritages. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all dream about love, happiness, and freedom.” HANKA’s love of jazz grew out of her exposure to the great black American jazz masters, and on UNIVERSAL ANCESTRY, she pays particular tribute to the African American women singers that have influenced her. Joined by a truly stellar group of New York-based musicians, UNIVERSAL ANCESTRY is an opportunity for jazz lovers across the country and the world to appreciate HANKA’s unique blend of musical styles that have captivated New York audiences.
The album also features Grammy-winning artists SHEDRICK MITCHELL (organ, piano), JAMES HURT (piano, Fender Rhodes), RODNEY KENDRICK (piano), DAVID GINYARD (electric bass), RASHAAN CARTER (electric and double bass), TARU ALEXANDER (drums), and NATHANIEL TOWNSLEY (drums), as well as MARVIN SEWELL (guitars), SHERROD BARNES (electric guitar), ANTOINE RONEY (tenor and soprano saxes), and background vocalists KEESHA GUMBS and TERELLE TIPTON. The album also features Slovak artists SISA MICHALIDESOVA (flute) and VERONIKA VITAZKOVA (fujara).
Born in Slovakia, HANKA spent her childhood years in the Mongolian desert with her parents, who were professors of geology. Prior to moving to the US, HANKA opened for Kurt Elling and toured with Rodney Kendrick’s trio in South Africa. When Cassandra Wilson was touring Europe, HANKA’S album Essence caught her attention, and she hired her as an opening act for her concert in Slovakia. The two became friends, and Wilson became HANKA’s mentor and invited her to come to the U.S.
During her most recent European tours, she performed with NEA Jazz Master bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Taru Alexander, and Grammy award-winning bassist Michael Bowie. HANKA has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Slovak lifetime achievement award in the jazz category in 2017, being the second female jazz artist ever to receive this honor in the 31 years of the award’s existence.
"Hanka's new album is a sophisticated mix of Slovak folk songs, classic jazz tunes, and a few crossover-oriented tracks, all held together by her impressive vocal skills." -Wulf Müller, legendary jazz A&R
“The Best of The Next Generation” - Cassandra Wilson
“When you listen to this breathtaking album, you’ll be more than grateful this bird started to sing!” – Jonathan Widran/JW Vibe/USA