Azúcar Con Aché

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Bios

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Remy Rodriquez, originally from Washington, D.C. and now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a composer and creative artist on piano and percussion. She began her musical career at the age of five, directed and inspired by her wonderful Cuban mother. Her influences include classical, salsa, and jazz, and she has performed all over the United States and islands in the Caribbean. Aside from performing now with Azúcar Con Aché, she has performed previously with groups that include Orquesta Sabrosita, Herencia del Caribe, Tipica Cienfugos, the Blazing Redheads, and the seven-piece all-women’s salsa band Azucar Y Crema (that she formed). She’s a Renaissance woman, an urban ecologist, a Nature and animal lover, and protector of the earth. Her musical journey is blessed with wonderful counterparts to play with.
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María Cora is a fascinating multi-faceted Puerto Rican artist, comfortable as a writer, poet, filmmaker, performer, and musician. Her inspired lead vocals have added pizzazz to many groups since arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980’s, including Orquesta Sabrosita, Los Pleneros de la 24, Azúcar y Crema, Babacool, Once, Canto de Corazón, Different Touch, and currently Azúcar Con Aché. Her versatile bilingual vocal talent shines in work as diverse as principal narrator for the documentary “Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life of Piri Thomas”, as writer/director and narrator for the short film “Negra Linda”, as vocalist on the Piri Thomas recording “’No Mo’ Barrio Blues”, and as writer/actress of the play “Verbo Corazón: Latina Heart Rhythm”. María has served as MC/Host for a multitude of events, including the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, the San Francisco World Drum Festival, the Redwood Music Festival, and the Encuentro del Canto Popular. She has also been honored with a La Estrella award, a Lesbian of Achievement and Vision (LAVA) award, a Prisma award for Achievement in Performing Arts, and a WAMMIE Alternative Music award for Best Latin Band (with Azúcar y Crema). She holds a BA from Harvard University/Radcliffe College and an MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University.
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Maria Cetto was born in Argentina and raised in Venezuela, and her music adventure began at the age of eight in Caracas. A graduate from Boston Conservatory of Music, Maria played solo piano and accompanied and sang with numerous Baroque and Classical ensembles as well as choirs in the New England area. While pursuing her Masters at the University of Iowa, she began singing for the university’s Opera Company and the University Choirs. Once in California, Maria acted and sang for the Stockton Civic Theater in drama and musical productions, such as Angels in America (Parts I and II), Noli Me Tángere, and Fiddler in the Roof. She was also a member of the Stockton Opera Association Chorus and had the enormous pleasure to be involved in productions like La Boheme, Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, and Carmen. Maria lives in a perenial state of folk music. A self-taught Cuatro player, she likes to bring music into the language classroom. Maria teaches Language Development, Spanish Language, and Linguistics at San Francisco State University. She has an MA in Foreign Language Education and a PhD in Spanish Linguistics from the University of California Davis.
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Robin Nzingah Smith has been playing music since the age of six. She studied jazz at the New Muse in Brooklyn, the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock and Billie Taylor’s Jazzmobile under the tutelage of Frank Foster, Frank Wess, and Bill Baron. Nzingah attended Rutgers University where she received a degree in flute performance.  While there, she had the honor to perform with the University Big Band at the funeral of Thelonius Monk.  Since relocating to California, she has performed with the Symphony of the Redwoods, the Mendocino Music Festival Orchestra and the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music Orchestra, Samba Ngo, and Orchesta Azucar y Crema. Currently, in addition to her work with Azúcar Con Aché, she performs with Spirit Jazz, the Women's Jazz Collective, Liquid Girlfriend and Blues and Funk legend Johnny Tolbert.  She frequently appears as a guest artist with Bay Area vocalist Anna Maria Flechero and with the Junius Courtney Big Band.  Nzingah is a dedicated educator and teaches music to children in several Bay Area schools.
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Sue "Suki" Kaye, originally from New York City and now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been playing congas, ngomas, and other percussion for over 36 years, and she recently added kalimba (African thumb piano) to her repertoire .She has been deeply influenced by many amazing master teachers from the Congo, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad, and more! Over the years she performed with many bands, including Azúcar Con Aché, Rita Lackey and Friends, Liquid Girlfriend, Montuno Groove, Bole Bantu, Azucar y Crema, Tierra Nueva, Samba Ngo and the Ngoma Players, Zakiya Hooker, and Pura Vida. She has conducted drum workshops for children and adults, was a dance accompanist for many years, and has been an educator both at the elementary and preschool levels for a long time! Azúcar Con Aché gives her the chance to be very creative with a group of women that are awesome to work with.
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Mwamba Blakwomyn
is a pianist and bassist in various groups from big bands to duos. She studied music at Ohio State University, the University of Iowa, and Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Since arriving in the Bay Area in 1994 from her native Ohio, she has also studied music at the Berkeley Jazz School, Laney College in Oakland, and City College of San Francisco where she was the principal pianist of their respective big bands. She is founder of the Kuumba Nia (“creative purpose”) Music Project, a multi-faceted, self-directed, musical collage involving a wide spectrum sounds, rhythms, vocals, spoken word, and instrumentation. She has performed in various musical capacities, serving as musical director at several Bay Area churches. She continues to collaborate with accomplished vocalist Deborah Tisdale, performing as the duo called “Sacred”. In recent years, Mwamba has studied with some of the Bay Area’s most notable bassists. She feels that the bass summons some of her deepest feelings; for her it is spiritual.
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Judy Graboyes
began her musical career in 1978 with Orquesta Sabrosita, a 13-piece, all women's salsa band. She has subsequently played with the Blazing Redheads, Swingshift, The Alberta Jackson Band, the Bongo Brothers, and various other groups. She plays all the Latin percussion instruments as well as a drum set, focusing on R&B, jazz, and the blues. She also dabbles on bass. By day, she works for a nonprofit housing developer in Oakland.