Jana Herzen is a singer-songwriter with folk, world, rock and jazz influences who founded Motéma Music, a Harlem-based record label focused on virtuosic jazz and world music. Prior to founding the label in 2003, she worked as a musician (her CD, Soup's on Fire, was the first CD on the label), an art agent for Winston Smith, who designed the logo for Motéma. Herzen was instrumental in the publishing of Artcrime, Smith's 2nd volume of collected works on the Last Gasp publishing imprint.


Born of world renowned scientists, Professors Leonard and Leonore Herzenberg, Herzen was raised on the campus of Stanford University, attended Stanford from 1977-79, and New York University from 1980 to 1982 where she completed an undergraduate degree in drama. While at NYU, she met Bernard Telsey and Robert LuPone. Together with Lupone and Telsey, and 5 other NYU graduates, she participated as a founding member of the award-winning theatre production group Manhattan Class Company, for which she served as a dramaturg, script doctor, lighting designer, actor, and director for 10 years. In 1991, she left Manhattan to travel to Japan, Bali, and Australia where she worked on songs for her first album, which was eventually recorded in San Francisco and Paris from 1994 to 1997, as produced by Congolese expatriate and worldbeat bassist and producer Shaka Ra Mutela, who had served as bassist and musical director for international music stars from Congo, Papa Wemba & Ray Lema and whose song, "Yaleo," appeared on the album, Supernatural by Carlos Santana, in a deal negotiated by Herzen just prior to the forming of the Motéma label.

As A&R Director and President of Motéma, she has grown the label from its early days in San Francisco, where it would release 2 to 3 albums in a year, to an internationally-distributed imprint with over 80 releases by 40 artists including some of the worlds top jazz touring acts such as Randy Weston, Geri Allen, and Monty Alexander.