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Itia Shapira, Band Leader

World Musician and Producer Itai Shapira

Following your dreams may not guarantee fame and fortune, but giving up on them guarantees failure. Itai David Shapira, a 24 year-old musician, has been following his passion for music around the world and successes and triumphs have come with every step along the way. Graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in Ethnomusicology, Itai has used his knowledge of Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Middle Eastern, African and Indian music to learn more about the art he loves and express them in the music he makes. As a producer, Itai has worked with other songwriters and vocalists to improve their musical messages. He has even helped to put together a concert at UCLA’s Fowler Museum which featured ethnically diverse musicians coming together to perform Middle Eastern music. Itai’s education and world travel have instilled within him a love of diversity which has permeated throughout his life and work. Diversity within musical tastes, within his band Elevaters and even the instruments he plays (guitar, bass, sitar, and the Mbira thumb piano) testify to his belief in music as a world language that is meant for all willing to listen. Read more about Itai David Shapira in our Young & Professional Profile.




Itai David Shapira, Musician




Culver City, CA

Current residence

Culver City, CA


B.A. Ethnomusicology, UCLA, 2004.

Work Experience

Hear Music Coffeehouse, 3rd St. Promenade, Santa Monica. World Music Specialist.



What’s your story?

My mother is Sephardic and my father is Ashkenazi. Her parents migrated to Israel from Hungary and his parents came from Lithuania but traveled through Norway and Sweden before settling in Israel in the late 1940’s. My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor who escaped from a concentration camp in Northern Germany.

I was born in Los Angeles (Culver City to be exact) after my parents left Israel for graduate studies at UCLA in the 1970’s. Soon after I was born, they decided to try living in Israel again, and we stayed there for about five years before moving back to LA in 1988. I have been living here in the U.S. ever since. It’s been 18 years! I went to a High School called LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts) in East LA This unique school is located on the Cal State LA campus and is an academic and art disciplinary school that nurtures the creative talents of its students. My fields of study include dance, theater, visual arts and music. I studied visual arts, although music has always been my passion.

After graduating high school in 2000, I decided to save money and travel. My planned destination was India. Why India? Because I began learning Hindustani music – also known as North Indian Classical Music – on a stringed lute known as the sitar. After spending six months traveling throughout India and Europe, I decided it was time to continue my higher education at a highly acclaimed institution—UCLA. UCLA has a very unique program called ethnomusicology. It was founded in the 1950’s and is the premiere program in the world for international music and culture. While there, I studied Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Middle Eastern, African and Indian Music with master musicians and instructors.

I graduated from UCLA in 2004 with a B.A. in ethnomusicology. Since then, I have utilized my knowledge and musical talents in my current job at Hear Music Coffeehouse where I help customers to discover new music from around the world and from different cultures as the World Music Specialist for the store. I have also produced a concert of Middle Eastern music at UCLA’s Fowler Museum in February of 2005 with the Yuval Ron Ensemble, a unique and ethnically diverse group of musicians led by Israeli oud player Yuval Ron and joined by Palestinian, Armenian, Arab and Jewish musicians from around the world. Most recently, I have been focusing on the growing success my band Elevaters, a Hip-Hop/Funk/Soul band. We met while at UCLA and have been friends ever since. We began to focus seriously on the band in March of this year, and now we play to capacity crowds at venues all over L.A, from the Sunset Strip to Santa Monica. The music is uplifting and has a positive message that reflects our own ethnic diversity.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Band rehearsals, recording, performing on stage and at work.

Most notable milestones

Traveling to India, graduating from UCLA, producing a concert of Middle Eastern music at UCLA.

What’s the niche?

My band Elevaters is a unique commodity in the industry today because of our refreshing sound, stage presence and performances and most notably because of our ethnic diversity. We are equal parts Israeli, African American, Persian and Caucasian.

What’s in store for the future?

We are currently in the studio working on a full length album due early next year. Following the release of our album, we will continue performing in LA at premiere venues and also try to get into some music festivals and touring opportunities. Be on the lookout for Elevaters in a town near you! I am also currently working on my own musical endeavors as a producer for vocalists and other songwriters. I have been building a home studio for a few years now and plan to have a fully operational recording studio to work from for these projects in the years to come.

Who would you like to be contacted by?

Elevaters will soon need a publicist as well as a business manager. Also, if you have any contacts in the music industry, please send them my way! A costume designer for our live shows would be an additional bonus!

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Best way to stay ahead

Always imagine where you wish to be and a path will be created for you to step onto so you can make your dreams a reality.

Guiding principle in life

Follow your bliss.

Yardstick of success

Set aside a time out of your day to pursue contacts, follow up on them, and be diligent, determined, disciplined, dedicated, and persistent.

Goal yet to be achieved

To play a concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

Best practical advice

Trust your intuition and logic will follow. In other words, make the right choice in the moment and you will bring efficiency and longevity to your future outcomes.

Most memorable business experience

Getting an all-expense paid wedding gig in India last January.


My heart.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I don’t think that I thought that far ahead back then.

What was your first job?

Westside Women’s Health Center. I was a teen health care counselor.

Biggest pastime outside of work

Playing soccer with my friends, dancing at clubs, camping and hiking in nature.

Person most interested in meeting and why?

Caetano Veloso, a Brazilian composer. He was and is a cultural icon in Brazil. I would like to ask him what it feels like to have gained such a dignified role as an artist and interpreter of his own culture. I wish to attain that level of achievement in my lifetime.

Leader in business most interested in meeting and why?

My dad has taught me a lot about business, so there is no other leader in business I care to meet at this point. However, my band Elevaters is looking for investors to support our cause and help spread our music across the globe.

Three interesting facts about yourself

1. I play guitar, bass, sitar and a thumb piano from Zimbabwe called Mbira.
2. I am often mistaken for a Puerto Rican or a mulatto by the way I look.
3. My name means “ouch” in Japanese and “just do it” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe.

Three characteristics that describe you

1. I am honest. 2. I am professional. 3. And I am a “go-getter.”

Three greatest passions

1. Music 2. Travel 3. Family History (ancestors)

Favorite book

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Favorite cause

The Environment: Organic Agriculture, Local Farming, Global Warming.

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Interview by Myriam Bouaziz
Introduction by Charlie Mulvey

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