MP3 Lua - La Sirena
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12 MP3 Songs
WORLD: World Fusion, LATIN: General
Estela Knott--Vocals, Jarana, Guitar
Estela grew up in a bi-lingual household in Luray, Virginia, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, long a center of traditional Appalachian culture. Her mother is from Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua, Mexico and she grew up surrounded by a succession of Mexican aunts, uncles, and cousins. She began singing in her father's church, and had begun recording by the age of 14. After a very busy performing and traveling schedule during high school, she quit singing abruptly to work her way through college, abandoning her music for many years. During college, she made many friends and near the end of school, she began singing again in a variety of groups, mostly rock and alternative rock music, but these proved ultimately unfulfilling. As Estela says, "I had always felt like something was missing -- no matter how much I performed, a lot of the time it seemed never to satisfy me. There was this great void that could only be filled briefly when I sang in church. I never knew what it was until I left with my family in 1998 to travel into the heart of Mexico, and for three weeks I was in tears. The smells, the people, the music; I felt overwhelmed by this fullness that I had longed for all of my life. It was then that I began writing and singing songs in Spanish. I don't know where they come from, but they just come and I write them.... it is the only thing that has come out of me for the past five years."
After returning from Mexico, she began collaborating with David Berzonsky, a partnership which led them to travel for a long period throughout Latin America. While in Lima, Peru, she taught vocals and drama at La Turumba, an innovative circus and theatre school in the suburb of Miraflores. There she met the Afro-Peruvian percussionist Chebo Ballumbrosio, with whom she engaged in an intensive study of the cajon, a wooden box drum, learning afro-peruvian traditional rhythms and repertoire and also learning how to make these drums.
David Berzonsky: Bass,Guitar, Vocals
Dave began playing the upright bass at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, studying with Pete Spaar and then studying jazz theory with renowned trumpeter and composer John Dearth. At the end of University, Dave began performing with the University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble, playing flute and bass. During this time, he collaborated with John on his first ensemble composition, Chant, which appears on the Jazz Ensemble's 1997 recording, Prestidigitation. Before leaving the Jazz Ensemble, he composed two more large ensemble pieces, Madonellinisa and Dance of the Bean King, both performed at UVA's Cabell Hall. During this time, he began playing with several local groups, including Phatness, Myotonia, Baaba Seth, and the John DearthGroup.
In 1998, he began playing with the Malian griot Cheick Hamala Diabate, with whom he is currently recording-- a project that includes former Myotonia and Baaba Seth cohort Hope Clayburn and from the John Dearth Group and Phatness, Jamal Milner. Not too long after meeting Cheick, he met Estela Knott, who introduced him to various types of Latin music. That, and his exposure to samba and bossanova, (which led him to take up the guitar and voice as instruments), led the two of them on a year and a half musical journey throughout Latin America. In Mexico, he played with the son jarocho group Los Cojolites (from the Frida soundtrack) and performed with several groups at the 2000 International Festival of Son Jarocho in Jaltipan, Veracruz, Mexico. He then went to Brazil for six months, where he absorbed several styles of Northeastern music such as baiao, coco, mangue-beat, maracatu, and batuque de umbagada (attack of the bellybuttons). He had the opportunity to play with some of the sidemen of the great Hermeto Pascaol, and to meet the maestro himself. During his stay in Olinda, Pernambuco, he was absorbed into the carnaval school, Maracatu Nacao Pernambuco, with whom he performed as a dancer during the 2001 Carnaval.
After returning to the states, he began working with Estela on integrating the folkloric music that they experienced first hand into an evolving body of work, whose current manifestation is the group Lua. "I feel that the story of the Americas is in many ways the same story, a story of arrivals, and of creating a new world culture even as we are beginning to truly inhabit this vast continent. The music of all the Americas is the music of right now, of new races of people coming into being. I think we should celebrate the beauty of that creation."
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