Geila Zilkha is a successful and highly recognized singer in Japan. With a solid background in jazz and additional essence of strong soul music, her vocal performances delight the audiences’ ears and hearts wherever she sings.
Born and raised in Kobe to an Israeli father and Japanese mother, Geila attended the international school Canadian Academy from kindergarten through high school and is fluent in both English and Japanese. She showed a strong interest in the arts and music from an early age, and studied ballet from the age of three. When Geila was nine years old, she was diagnosed with scoliosis and underwent surgery during which a metal rod was implanted in her back. This operation meant that she could no longer dance or play sports, and ever since then Geila knew that she would pursue a career in music.
Soon after the operation, Geila began learning how to play the alto saxophone. When she felt the need to deepen her understanding of music, she also began playing the keyboard. She played in bands in high school and led a jazz big band. Geila was then accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston to study the alto saxophone. Shortly afterwards, she realized that her voice was the instrument she should pursue, and changed her major to singing from her second year.
During her time at Berklee, she participated in Vocal Jazz Ensemble taught by her vocal mentor April Arabian, Vocal Summit taught by Bob Stoloff, and Reverence Gospel Choir led by Orville Wright and Dennis Montgomery III. She graduated from Berklee in 1991.
Geila returned to her hometown of Kobe following graduation and worked as a TV and radio personality. At FM802, a leading Osaka radio station, she hosted her own program for almost three years. She also co-hosted a morning show for ABC Television.
In 1995, the great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred and interrupted the course of her career as a well-known personality and singer, forcing her to take a leave of absence.
However, Geila was not ready to give up her dreams of becoming a successful musician. She moved to Tokyo, the cultural center of Japan. There, she sang in TV commercials and worked as a radio personality for InterFM. She worked as a voice actor for Benesse, a major correspondence education and publishing company, which earned her more spots narrating and singing in TV commercials for companies such as Mazda, All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Haagen Dazs. In the case of ANA, the commercial was so popular that audiences requested the company disclose the singer's name.
In 2002, she began an all-female gospel choir named Voissalot Choir. The group released three albums, sang in TV commercials and performed at Tokyo Disney Sea, JZ Brat and Sweet Basil as well as other renowned clubs. In 2004, Geila gave birth to a son. Six months later, she started singing again. In 2006, she was invited to teach at a high-ranking jazz school. In 2007, she met the highly acclaimed male vocalist Ayumu Yahaba, and they started singing duo shows entitled SOLO-DUO.
In 2009, after successfully leading Voissalot Choir to the Apollo Theater in New York, Geila decided to concentrate her efforts on solo shows. In 2010, she earned the Grand-Prix title for the annual Kobe Jazz Vocal Queen Contest which entitled her to sing a highly acclaimed show at the renowned jazz club Jazz Alley in Seattle. In October of the same year, she released her first solo album, all Me, which surprisingly became a megahit among jazz audiences although many people had never heard of her before. Print media feedback has also been very positive: the top jazz magazines in Japan, Jazz Japan, Jazz Life and Jazz Hihyo [Jazz Review], gave high praise, and the national newspaper Asahi Shimbun dedicated two feature articles.
On September 21, 2011 Geila released her second solo album appearance and went on tour throughout Japan with her band, sharing her music with warm and welcome audiences. Her final live performance at JZ Brat in the Shibuya district of Tokyo was sold out and full of fans anxious to hear songs from the second album.
Currently, Geila performs regularly at top jazz clubs and concert halls throughout Japan. She also teaches jazz vocals at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music on a regular basis.