Argentine singer Sol Cabrera talks about the deepest emotions of blues and the universal language of music

"The Blues is the most beautiful way to sing our sad thoughts. Connects you with your deepest emotions, those that are hidden, and, you got the chance to turn them into something beautiful, aesthetic."

Sol Cabrera: The Sun Is Shining

Argentine artist María (Sol) Soledad Cabrera started taking piano lessons at the age of 8. She then fell in love with singing and started studying in 1998. She had several teachers; to name some: Maria Rosa Yorio, Cecilia Gauna and Fabiana Wilder. In 2002 Sol began taking bass lessons with Pablo Mingione with whom she then also learned Improvisation and Auditive Perception. After that, she studied with Mauro Diana, a local well-known blues bass player, at Escuela de Blues (Collegium Musicum). In Collegium Musicum she also took lessons of Blues History, Ensemble and Music Theory with Gabriel Gratzer, Gabriel Cabiaglia and Joaquín Lascano. And finally, guitar lessons with Gabriel Gratzer and Juan Codazzi. She studied Music Theory with Tito Rauch during 2000 and 2001.

She launched herself as a professional singer in 2005 with King Size Blues, the legendary group of guitarist Daniel Raffo. She sang there until 2008 and currently makes guest appearances in some shows. She took drama lessons with Maruchi (producer and writer of TV programme Chiquititas) and Mike Amigorena in 1995. Later, during 2000, she attended Pablo Morgado´s drama school and finally, she took lessons in Teatro de la Municipalidad de Vicente López in 2002 and 2003. From 2009 to 2011 Sol took Brazilian dancing lessons at Carlinhos da Silva school. Apart from being a songwriter, singer and music player, Soledad Cabrera has a degree on Musical Therapy and is a singing teacher. Her influences are Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cook and many vocal groups. Her release “Recién Empieza” is the first album written, produced and arranged by Sol Cabrera. The 10 tracks of the album are compositions by Sol Cabrera, where soul, R&B, new pop and female British new soul are mixed. Her vocal resources make her compositions in Spanish sound perfect with these styles.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

The blues means a lot to me, its everything to me. Sometimes, when I sing, I think that I have much to learn, but when I’m sad, or blue, that’s the moment when I say to myself: “oh, yes, you have the blues too”. 
The Blues is the most beautiful way to sing our sad thoughts. Connects you with your deepest emotions, those that are hidden, and, you got the chance to turn them into something beautiful, aesthetic. So if you can meet you thought the blues, you can sing and “you can be the blues”. No matter the country or culture, the most important thing is the concept.

"I would really like all musicians can have the same opportunities to show their work, having or not a cd or a discography company. There are a lot of musicians that has not the way or opportunities of make a job from their art."

How do you describe Sol Cabrera sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

My musical album brings all the experiences that I’ve gone through in my life, music and personal. When I thought about the album, I wanted to have the mixture of the sounds of the 40/ 50 and maybe a little of 60th with a modern sound. I like very much those times. What happened musically, and also culturally: the way of dressing, the esthetic of the time. That is why I wanted to include it. Also, I wanted to be able to sing it in Spanish and with my own lyrics and my own feelings. So I had to listen to much music, before doing so, and while recording it, to respect the musical style, and vocal style.  

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

I sing since I was fifteen years old, and I met many people. Some local blues recognized, like Pappo, Botafogo and Ricardo Tapia, and Jimmy Burns, of Chicago. But the person, with whom I started sing, was Daniel Raffo that is the most important Blues guitar player of our country recognize internationally, in 2004. I sang in his band “King Size”. I met too, that year, to Mauro Diana; who was my electric bass professor, and Gabriel Gratzer, who also is well known internationally as the “Country Blues Musician” from Argentina, he gave me some guitar lessons too. All of them, also well known in the blues circuit in Argentina, are part of the staff of "Escuela de Blues" (Blues School) in Argentina, the first School recognized in Latin America. I was a student, and now I am part of them, in the vocal technique area.

They were great teachers to me, now colleagues and my friends. And they gave me lots of advice. The most important is to generate opportunities. Play with people, whether professional or amateur, to play your instrument long ago or recently. As I said, the important thing in the blues, it's the concept. Connect with those emotions, and share them with others. That's the best example I’ve been given, day to day, until now. That’s why I'm so glad to meet them.

"Music is universal and reaches everywhere, and in any language, that goes through our being. Since we are in the belly of our mother, the beating of his heart, the rhythm of his breathing, the tone of your voice, make a combination that together 'sounds'."

Are there any memories from gigs, open acts, festival and studio which you’d like to share with us?

I sang in a tribute to Pappo, an incredible blues guitarist in Argentina. He died in an accident in the city of Luján. So every year they do a three days festival where people go camping and play many bands to remember. One of his musicians, Machy Madco invited me to sing with him. There were 8,000 people that day, 15000 were the day before, but had rained heavily that night, and there were so many people. That was in early 2013.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

What I like from the “oldschool” Blues is simplicity, the simplicity to record, to play his songs so pure - much of these records where done alive and sometimes with ambient sound. May be sometimes sounds messy but in fact I loved to be like this and I'd also wish that’s can still can be made.

I hear it so relax, while the sound is more raw, more flat, not much adornment. I would love for all that is rescued and returned to the present, and hope for the future. More simplicity in songwriting, more simplicity in poetry.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
I would really like all musicians can have the same opportunities to show their work, having or not a cd or a discography company. There are a lot of musicians that has not the way or opportunities of make a job from their art. So I think will be great a more equitative way to everybody can make a job from his art and music because is good. May be some utopic.

"What I like from the 'oldschool' Blues is simplicity, the simplicity to record, to play his songs so pure - much of these records where done alive and sometimes with ambient sound. May be sometimes sounds messy but in fact I loved to be like this and I´d also wish that’s can still can be made."

Make an account of the case of the blues in Argentina. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

I was very young so I really lived some part of this period. But I know that in the end of the 80's beginning of 90's lot of legends of the Blues came to town to play such us BB King, her daughter Shirley, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy and a lot of Bluesman more.

I know that because people I work with such as Daniel Raffo and Mauro Diana, took part of these times and also plays as musician of them. But really I was so young. Then, there was a period when lot of local Bands begins to play Blues in Spanish. Then were known as “Argentine Blues”. The first one of the early 80's where “Memphis La Blusera”, then “La Mississippi” a singer Celeste Carballo and King Size Blues (Daniel Raff's Band that continues until now making Blues in their original language, English).

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from United States to Argentina?

I think that Tango and Blues are connected in a way, and the legacy is all the Bluesman coming from USA to our country since the 90's until now. Those legends specially coming from Chicago.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?
A few months ago a young girl (younger than me I mean lol) opens my show in a Local Blues Bar and were a lot of girls her age, I found funny hear them singing my music “Loquita” (in English is like “ Crazy Little girl” in a funny way ) As I have a young daughter and she also like this music. Is funny because I have not wrote the song being in a so funny day.

What does to be a female artist in a “Man’s World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in Blues?

True, it is a man's world, but I feel like I won my place as a respectable female artist, the respect and appreciation of my fellow men. Generally when I go to a bar, invite me to sing and make me feel great. I do not feel that is different to them, for me I am a man more lol!

In Argentina, give us the space to express ourselves, and there is a series of shows that I started called "Blues and femme". When I started as a singing teacher in the school of blues, I noticed that there were few female singers, then I came up with a couple of students and colleagues, build a team and create a place where women could give their shows. Today I do not handle more, but I'm proud that I did.

Why did you think the music That Continues to generate healing and therapy to mind and soul?

Music is universal and reaches everywhere, and in any language, that goes through our being. Since we are in the belly of our mother, the beating of his heart, the rhythm of his breathing, the tone of your voice, make a combination that together "sounds". So we're in a musical world before birth. When we are babies, we like to have an “upa” and we move rhythmically. A mother is wise, steady rhythm, you generate a bra. In life, you can hold music, and wrap so you do not feel alone. It is a contention; yet, this bra gives you confidence to express yourself. Regarding neuro-music, also generates vibration and biochemical alterations changes. While we sing, no neurological connections and dopamine and serotonin, which are as unbalance in a person with depression, are activated. Improvise activates the prefrontal cortex, which makes us the most creative, not only musically, but also in our daily life. And so I can keep giving examples. In conclusion, music is the most powerful weapon to combat any deep pain. Is the name "place" where we can say the most distressing things. It is the cutest way to be free of our mind, which often is our enemy and we have slaves.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I would go one day each decade from 40 to 60 haha. But if I have to choose, I choose the 50s I guess go to a good bar to listen to Etta James or Ruth Brown and admire, as I do now.

Sol Cabrera - Official website

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