Sultana is an award-winning film composer, violinist, writer and scholar based in New Orleans, LA, merging minimalist pedagogy with the electronic.

Sultana's film composer credits range from avant-garde, horror, fantasy, and archival. Sultana was a researcher and the composer for the documentary “All Skinfolk Ain't Kinfolk'' about the historic mayor race between two Black women in New Orleans directed by Emmy-nominated Angela Tucker, which premiered on PBS. She was the additional composer for “Ailey” directed by Jamila Wignot, which premiered at Sundance Festival 2021. Her upcoming film score, “The Neutral Ground,” is a feature film about the removal of confederate monuments, directed by CJ Hunt. Sultana is a composer fellow with Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound Design Lab 2020. 

 

She is a member of Les Cenelles, a contemporary string+ ensemble preserving creole folk tunes and works by composers of color combined with technology. As a member of Les Cenelles, she has recorded with The Neighborhood Story Project and collaborated with many arts organizations such as A Studio In The Woods, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and New Orleans Museum of Art. In addition to being a member of this research-based group, Sultana is an educator and published scholar and has spoken at conferences and universities to share her research with a psychoanalysis of sound, lineage, and memory. 

 

Sultana and free feral are the co-founders of Alphabet Sound Observatory, an audio engineer library for Black and Indigenous women and gender variant artists of color based in New Orleans, LA. ASO provides access to quality recording equipment and audio engineering training for all sonic architects to expand our skills, aesthetics and collaborative capacities for our broad yet specific demographic. We also highlight the legacy of our pioneers through interviews, lectures, masterclasses and archival studies.

 

​As a solo artist, Sultana was invited to perform at Art Basel Miami 2018 by Afro-Future Society at The Urban, and has played live with musicians such as Miri Ben-Ari, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, John Mayer and Pink Floyd, and has recorded for artists such as Ambré. Released in 2017, her EP Blood Moon is described as "a musical journey of transmutation," and has appeared on local and international stations including NTS Radio in London.

__________________________

sultana.isham69@gmail.com

@sultana.isham

EDUCATION

2013,  B.M. in Violin Performance, Syracuse University, Setnor School of Music, Syracuse, NY

 

FILM COMPOSER

2023, ‘Stax Records’, HBO docu-series directed by Jamila Wignot (in-production)
2022, ‘House of Tulip’, directed by Cydney Tucker (post-production)
2022, ‘BENEDICTION’, directed by Zandashé Brown (post-production)
2022, ‘Sol In the Garden’, directed by Emily Cohen Ibañez and Débora Souza Silva (post-production)
2022, ‘Making Black America’, PBS mini-series directed by Shayla Harris & Stacey Holman hosted by Dr. Henry Louis    Gates Jr. 
          - Television broadcast premiere on PBS fall 2022
2021,  ‘The Trees Remember’, REI series directed by Angela Tucker 
          - Winner for Best Video Series,  The Webby Awards
2021, ‘The Neutral Ground’, directed by CJ Hunt 
          - Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2021
          - Television broadcast premiere on POV / PBS 2021
          - Nominated for Best Score, International Documentary Association (IDA)
          - Emmy NominatIon for Best Historical Documentary 2022 (*pending)
2021,  ‘Ailey’, directed by Jamila Wignot (*additional composer)
          - World Premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2021
          - Television broadcast premiere American Masters / PBS 2022
2019,  ‘Sacred’, directed by Luisa Dantas
           - Premiere at New Orleans Film Festival 
2018,  ‘All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk’, directed by Angela Tucker (*also credited as researcher) 
           -Television broadcast premiere on PBS’ South Reel, 2020
2018,  ‘Goddess House’, directed by Marion Hill
           -Winner for ‘Best Musical Score’ by 48Hour Film Project
2018,  ‘BLOOD RUNS DOWN’, directed by Zandashé Brown
           -Nominated for ’Best Score’,  Women in Horror Film Festival, Peachtree City, GA
2017,  ‘Nii Journal II’, directed by Campbell Addy
           -Premiere at Protein Studios, London, UK

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

2023, Composer and Conductor debut, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, New Orleans, LA 
2022, Presentation, Mémwa Nwa: Agency, Sound and Women in AfroCreole Louisiana Folk Music, Imagining America Conference, New Orleans, LA
2022,  Co-Author, Scholarly Essay, Mémwa Nwa: Agency, Sound and Women in AfroCreole Louisiana Folk Music, UNC press Southern Cultures, Charlotte, NC
2022,  Residency, Sundance Institute Artist Residency at UCross Foundation, Ucross, Wyoming 
2022,  Lecture, Scoring for Film, Reed College, Portland, OR 
2021,  Honoree and Guest Speaker, LA Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Music USA and SESAC, Los Angeles, CA
2021,  Nominated for Best Score ‘The Neutral Ground’, International Documentary Association (IDA), L.A., CA
2021,  Interdisciplinary Fellow, Sundance Institute Interdisciplinary Program, Los Angeles, CA
2021,  Grantee, Reel Change: Fund for Diversity in Film Scoring, SESAC, Christophe Beck & New Music USA.
2021,  Author, Scholarly Essay, Noise Is The Nigga of Sound, e-flux journal, New York City, NY
2021,  Grantee, Sundance Institute Interdisciplinary Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
2020,  Lecture, ‘Bloodflow: Memory & The Racialization of Sound and Gender,’ Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 
2020,  Co-Founder, Alphabet Sound Observatory, audio engineer library for BIQPOC women
2020,  Composer Fellow, Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound, Film Music and Sound Design lab
2019,  Grantee, Community Partnership recipient with Les Cenelles, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation
2019,  Composer Fellow, New Orleans Film Festival Music Initiative, New Orleans, LA
2019,  Presentation, Cultivating Creative Agency: A Platform on Diversity in Art & Design, ALL CAPS, Rochester, NY
2019,  Residency with Les Cenelles, A Studio in the Woods, New Orleans, LA
2018,  Presentation, Bloodline: A Psychoanalysis of the Black Presence in Classical Music and its Relation to Memory,    ASAP/10 Conference, New Orleans, LA 
2018,  Author, Scholarly Essay, Bloodline: The Power of Music and Memory, Antenna Works, New Orleans, LA 
2018,  Performance, Afro-Future Society at The Urban, Art Basel, Miami, FL
2018,  Nominated for Best Score ‘BLOOD RUNS DOWN’, Women in Horror Film Festival, Peachtree City, GA
2018,  Winner for Best Score ‘Goddess House’, 48 Hour Film Project, New Orleans, LA  
2018,  Alumna of Bass Camp, Red Bull Music Academy, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Memphis, TN 
2017,  Residency, The Embassy Studio, New Orleans, LA
2016,  Residency, Ace Hotel, New Orleans, LA
2015,  Residency,  International House Hotel,  New Orleans, LA
2007,  Appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine, November 2007 issue

CONCERTMASTER

2018,  ‘Les Lions de la Reconstruction’, Opera Creole, Marigny Opera House, New Orleans, LA 

2017,  ‘The Last Five Years’, Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans, LA


 

TEACHING

2018 - 2020,  Teaching Artist, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA

   As a guest educator I developed creative writing workshops with 4th and 5th grade students from Audubon and KIPP Charter Schools as a part of the Spring Artist Exchange education program. In an effort to coincide with the current exhibition at the CAC, we focused on the historical context of the usage of communicating through objects and symbols. Retained interest and maximize receptive learning by educating students utilizing hands-on instructional techniques by relating the topic to everyday encounters. 

 

2018 - 2020,  Music Theory and Violin Teacher, Make Music NOLA, New Orleans, LA

   As the head of the music theory department I concentrate on teaching youth from ages 5-12 how to read and write music, music history and beginning violin technique. I also co-facilitate community outreach opportunities such as free access to live performances that explore beyond the limitations of what one thinks of classical music. I’m exceptional with producing accurate and up-to-date records and reports as required as well as organizing and maintaining books, learning materials and resources in preparation towards a comfortable learning environment.

 

est. 2013 - present,  Founder, Siren Violin Studio

   I founded this private violin studio to create a space for people of all ages to dive into their musical abilities. I assist them to develop basic technique which allows one to play any genre they’re interested in while simultaneously increasing their musical literacy. I also aid them in finding the best affordable instrument as well as teaching them how to care and clean for them. In addition, I organize cultural and educational trips and activities to enhance mental stimulation and social well-being.