Matana Roberts is a sound experimentalist, jazz saxophonist and clarinetist, composer and improviser based in New York City. She has previously been an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The Jazz Journalists Association selected Roberts as a finalist nominee for the 2008 "Up and Coming Musician of the Year" award (which Lionel Loueke ultimately won).
Born in 1978 in Chicago, Illinois, Roberts was raised on the city's South Side and studied classical clarinet during her youth. She formed a trio, Sticks and Stones, with bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor, with whom she regularly performed at the Velvet Lounge. In 2002, Roberts moved to New York, initially busking in subways and publishing a zine, Fat Ragged, about her experiences.
Roberts is the composer of Coin Coin, a multichapter musical work-in-progress exploring themes of history, memory and ancestry. Roberts performed at the London Jazz Festival in 2007. In 2008, Central Control released Roberts' The Chicago Project. The album, produced by Vijay Iyer, includes performances by members of Prefuse 73 and Tortoise along with AACM saxophonist Fred Anderson.
In January 2010, Roberts was the guest curator at The Stone. Roberts has been chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he curated in March 2012 in Minehead, England. Roberts received a 2013 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.