By Claudia Guedes
Brazilian music is popular wherever you go. Bossa Nova, Brazilian funk, samba, Brazilian pop rock songs, or ballads; it doesn’t matter. The music is full of energy and warm feelings transmitted through chords, solos, and voices. In Brazil we can appreciate concerts by Marisa Monte, Gal Costa, Simone, Maria Bethania, and others. However, once outside of the tropical home country, we have to wait for events such as jazz festivals or other producers to bring our “divas” to sing for us. Lately I have been giving my attention especially to female voices because they are often hidden behind a band, yet at the same time, they can be the high point of the concert.
Historically, Brazilians or not, it can be seen that bands are formed by boys and men, who, playing guitar and screaming into microphones found a logical place to purse a career. For generations, the stigma of being a singer marked women of incredible talent who often abandoned their passion for music to marry, have babies and spend the rest of their existence in stable lives. Music careers, like other professional artistic paths, were not often considered acceptable for women. Fortunately this has changed, and many women pursue music today as a popular career.
In San Francisco, I usually search for incredible musicians and remarkable voices to appreciate. I found out about many female bands, singers, guitar and drum kit players, and rock’n rollers; beautiful and talented women who sing with their heart and soul. Most of them are Americans and some are Brazilians. This article, first in a series called “Female voices from San Francisco,” is especially dedicated to two Brazilians: Sarah Cabral and Dandha da Hora, and two Americans, Maria Stanford and Stephanie Teel. All of them are gifted with and remarkable voices. Dandha da Hora came from Bahia to join the band called SambaDa (founded by Papiba Godinho); Sarah Cabral came from Londrina and sings with her band called Macabea; Maria Stanford came from Texas and has formed the bands Color Puddy and Black Betty; and Stephanie Teel is one of the rare San Franciscans, she is part of the band called The Fabulous Cruise Tones.
The music of Sarah Cabral is intimate, Brazilian Popular Music or MPB. Like her astrological sign, Aries, her voice is strong, remarkable and at the same time sweet. This small, blonde Brazilian girl fills the stage with her presence and brings to us a little of our native voice. Passionate for life, Sarah Cabral plays with words that match politics and love, beaches and arts. She lives in Berkeley and sometimes shows up in the City.
Dandha is a singer and dancer who came from the lineage of Ilê Aiyê (meaning the house of life in Yoruba). Ilê Aiyê is a musical group and a way of thinking and appreciating the black way of life in Bahia/Brazil. Vovô is its founder, director, and its inspiration. With Ilê Aiyê, Dandha learned how to sing, dance and to be a warrior for love and compassion. She arrived in the United States for the first time when she was 16 years old. She came for an Ilê Aiyê presentation in Santa Cruz. The group was brought by Renato Frota, at that time a producer of Brazilian cultural events. Today Renato is married to Dandha, and there is a union of life, interests, music, faith and love. Renato is a filmmaker while Dandha sings dances and teaches (to see the schedule please visit www.dandha.com).
Dandha (like Vovô for Ilê Aiyê) is also an inspiration for SambaDá – a musical band for which she is the lead vocals and dancer. SambaDá includes five other musicians: one Brazilian and four Americans: Papiba Godinho (lead vocals, guitar & percussion), Anne Stafford (saxophone, flute & percussion), Kevin Dorn (bass & percussion), Will Kahn (drums, percussion, and vocals), Gary Kehoe (drums, percussion, vocals) and Marcel Menard (percussion & vocals). In the band’s bio we can find the following words: “SambaDá is AfroBraziLatinSambaFunk — a unique, creative fusion of powerful music flowing from the roots of Afro Brazilian Samba and incorporating elements of reggae, funk, salsa, jazz and hip hop.
Ocean Beach brings waves to Stephanie Teel, a surfer, a singer, a musician and extraordinary teacher. I had the honor to receive as a gift her first CD and I was touched by the lyrics, music and voice. Stephanie is one of these figures who inspire you to understand music not only as an entertainment, but as language, as expression, as part of yourself. To listen to her CD or to her performance with the guitar is to listen to a speech of art. It is beautiful and reflects her personality. Her music identifies who she is.
Stephanie is the daughter of Mark Teel, a well known sax player in San Francisco. With him she learned the passion for music and started her career playing in private parties for celebrities in San Francisco. As a band leader and drummer with the Al Bellow Revue (with TV talk show host Jenny Jones) she was on the road for two solid, heavily booked years giving concerts in Las Vegas, Reno, Tahoe, New Mexico and part of Canada. Stephanie also gave solo concerts in Great Falls, Montana, New Orleans, San Francisco, at Oakland’s Art and Soul Festival, and in Arizona. In 1980 she came back to San Francisco and formed a band under her name. In 1990 she was the lead guitar player for the Zasu Pitts Orchestra and she played with Linda Tillery at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. During 2002, Stephanie was on tour across northern Italy with Gwen Avery and the Blue Sistahs. Currently Stephanie plays with “The Fabulous Cruise Tones”, teaches guitar, and surf. (Stephanie’s next gig? Visit: www.stephanieteel.com)
In March 2006 I had the pleasure of being among the audience of a show given by Maria Stanford and her Black Betty Band at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. I arrived before the show started and I saw how the stage was set for a small place and the care taken with the quality of the sound. When the show started I could not believe how tight the band was; I closed my eyes and heard each song as it sounded on my original albums. Maria Stanford as the lead vocal gives a unique and remarkable tone of professionalism. Before arriving in San Francisco, Maria played in many cover bands in Texas and she had previously toured with Big Brother & The Holding Company; with her talent she re-created the unforgettable style of Janis Joplin.
Maria has produced and recorded two CD’s, one solo that brings the strength of her talent as singer and songwriter, and the Color Puddy CD, with her first original band. Maria’s voice comes from the heart, fills space and takes you to wherever your inspiration can achieve the highest point. Your sensitivity will be touched even though you are spaced out with the beauty of her tone of voice. Lately Maria can be seen with the Judea Eden Band around the Bay Area; another extraordinary female presence in voice and soul. To learn more about their gigs visit www.judeaeden.com.
To write about music is my hobby, to find something extraordinary is my passion.