Tag Archives: abuela

i miss you

abuela, i miss you so much. i remember when you taught me how to dance in your living room. and how you explained the difference between salsa and merengue with your hips. every time i’d come visit you, you would have arroz con pollo already made, with love. and the world’s best beans. you would reheat them in the microwave with a few drops of water and covered in wax paper. i remember watching all the miss universe pageants with you and you’d always express with conviction the beauty queen that deserved to win and you were always right. i don’t think it hurt that Miss Puerto Rico has won more than any other nation. 😉 i remember how you would pinch the f*** out of my nose so it would be more straight and less wide and ethnic looking! i remember how clean your house always was and organized. you had all of your shoe boxes labeled. “navy blue pumps.”  i remember going to the movies with you, we would sneak in nachos and soda that you would conceal perfectly in plastic tupperware in your gigantic purse.  no matter what film it was, you would always fall asleep and snore super loudly. and then i’d wake you up and you’d complain of how the movies of today were horrible. you said you always used to go to the movies every week no matter what when you were growing up. you had seen all the classics. you could sing all the standards. you had this cute nasal voice. i heard that mom got her voice from abuelo but i’ll give you some credit for your musicality.

until i was older i had no idea how chic you were. you were super stylish. i wear some of your stuff now, like the gold chain handkerchief necklace. i wear your pearl belt as a necklace too. i think you would appreciate that. i would’ve loved to have worn your clothes if we were the same size. though i am petite i never inherited your DD breasts. you told me to be grateful, and that i would never have back problems. 🙂 i remember being a kid and playfully putting your enormous bras over my booty which still couldn’t fill out your bras! ha!

i’m so glad that you got to see me graduate college and learn how to dance like a true salsera. since you passed- i learned how to cook, i’ve written 2 albums, i’ve done yoga teacher training (i would’ve loved to teach you), i died my hair back to blonde (you would be so happy- you always loved me blonde… though i’m not sure how long i’ll keep it!). but i can’t help wishing you would be here for the day i get married. and i wish i learned to speak Spanish properly and we could’ve conversed solo en espanol… i remember you would speak to me slowly and then just get tired and say “it takes too long” in English. jajaja! you would watch endless telenovelas on telemundo (you had years and years of VHS cassettes of them). and you would explain to me the intricate dramas of them.

i miss your advice. i remember what scrutiny you put my boyfriends through. most you ignored. one you treated pretty badly. one you liked but said “he wasn’t the one.” i wonder what you think about the man i’m with now.

i really feel your presence and energy sometimes, when i’m dancing it’s like you become a part of me. i think it’s part of why i become so OVERWHELMED with complete joy and bliss when i’m in the zone of the perfect salsa rhythm. and there are certain things about me that i know don’t come from my parents but come from you. i know you are watching over me now. i see your signs– like when you moved the photos of you.. not once but twice and many feet away… one fell down the stairs… yet all the other photos not of you were perfectly in tact. i think this is the way you tell me that you are there. protecting me. watching over me. communing with me. and i’m so grateful.

i miss you. i wanna laugh with you. you’re so silly. i want to hug you. and cook for you. and dance with you. you had so much passion. fire. love. class. feist. strength. smarts. beauty. it will never be as it once was. but i do believe our souls will reunite in another realm.

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“Abuela” from our Hotel Cafe show. Celebrate your life!!!!

One more clip from our show at Hotel Cafe! “Abuela” a song written about my beautiful Puerto Rican grandmother is a celebration of LIFE! Baila conmigo / dance with me 2:30 in! BESOS!

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last night a dance class saved my life, the fly girls, egoic dancing, exxxploration, and owning what you LOVE

yesterday i woke up and i didn’t want to get out of bed. you know that feeling when you just feel stuck in the mud. after my dance class last night i realized that i MUST embrace that dance is my therapy. it can bring from a point of the lowest frequency to sublime ELATION!!!

i’ve always denied the dancer in me. even after class, a woman came up to me and asked if i was a dancer and i said “no, i’m a singer.” why???  i don’t know why. maybe because i don’t have the typical dancer history which would qualify me as a real dancer? though i was a late bloomer (i wasn’t formally trained until college!), i had it in me. my dance background consisted of taping the fly girls on “in living color” and my childhood best friend, Carla, teaching me what she learned in her dance classes. that girl had (and still has) moves. my abuela (who was a dancer in NYC) danced with me a lot and i learned to move through osmosis. she could shake it with the BEST of them. even in her 70s even she could get DOWN. 🙂 it was crazy! then i met alejandro, my now ex-novio, when i was 19. he taught me to dance a salsa that was not my grandmother’s salsa. we trained. 3 hours a day. and when i moved to LA to pursue music, he came with me to pursue his dancing. in LA you can dance salsa every night of the week! coming from North Carolina, that blew my mind! i started dancing with dancers from all over the world and learned so much from the clubs. i took lessons, workshops, even volunteered at the LA Salsa Congress so I could get a free pass to learn. now salsa is like breathing for me. it feels so natural. i can intuitively feel where my partner wants me to move and play within that space, with them and with the music. it’s divine. what killed that for me was when i starting meeting dancers that dance  from their egos… they were too busy showing off, trying to flip me, trying to get attention or a reaction, seeing how many times they could spin themselves or me, some wouldn’t even look at me in the eyes or even my face… i was merely a puppet, barbie dollesque being turned, flipped, thrown around the floor so they could have people look at them and think they’re bad ass. egoic dancing doesn’t allow dance to be the divine connection it can and should be damn it! i see the same thing with musicians. when people are so concerned with how they will be received the art suffers. not necessarily skill. but the feeling. it’s devoid of authenticity. we artists need to bring that back!

i so enjoy exploring other genres of dancing… i did some what i’ll call… “classy exotic burlesque” dancing to pay for my schoolin at USC, did a brief stint in a belly dancing company, took a random and not so great tango class with my man (we need to find a better one we just leaned on each other and walked in a circle for an hour), african dance was my favorite class in college- the way the dancer and the drummer commune fascinates me… i took a few hip-hop, ballet, and many jazz classes… and i appreciate them all… i love the strength and fearlessness and solidity of hip-hop, the discipline and beauty of ballet, the sass and extension and funkiness of jazz… they all have their something. now i’m learning samba and i swear my hips are learning a new language.

i’m discovering now how essential it is that we honor and acknowledge and celebrate what we love. thus,  i have decided to embrace my dancer self completely. i can’t deny what’s within me. it heals me. it connects me. i think of all the people in the world denying themselves from what they love to do, from expressing that love, and for what? why? i encourage you to own whatever it is you love, acknowledge your passion and celebrate it through authentic self-expression.

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M.U.S.I.C. album release show! Today’s feature: LEO COSTA

For the album release show, I’m featuring each band member during this upcoming show week! It has been so much fun interviewing the M.U.S.I.C. makers and getting deep into their musical heads and hearts! They are all ridiculously talented, intelligent, true artists and I’m honored to make M.U.S.I.C. with them! 

Today’s feature: Leo Costa – drums

Leo is amazing at mixing modern drumming with old school concepts. He’s a sensitive player- he intuitively feels what energy, essence, and foundation a song needs.  From Rio, Brazil, Leo attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music and graduated with a Professional Music Degree, he studied performance, arranging, and music synthesis which also lead him to production and programming. With dexterity ranging from funky, gritty grooves to the complex feel of samba, jazz, and literally everything in between, Leo Costa plays with an authentic, inspired, and soulful intelligence. Leo added his incredible musical feel on Moments, Abuela, When You’re Away, and Rabo de Galo on M.U.S.I.C. Get to know my favorite batera 🙂

-what’s your 1st musical memory?

Listening to my dad’s Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Cliff records and my mom’s Beatles records.


-what’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened while you are on stage?

At a gig one time some dude kept asking if my cajon was electric! Then he starts trying to play it while I’m playing it- in the middle of the set. I had to use one hand to push him away while continuing to play the cajon with the other hand! Another time during a jazz gig, during the middle of a beautiful ballad, the singer fell HARD from the stool and from the floor she tells the band to keep playing (as if nothing had happened)…


-what’s your ultimate dream in music?

I don’t have an ultimate dream… I just want to keep evolving in music, keep developing…


-if you weren’t doing music what would you be doing?

There is nothing else.

-most influential artists to you and why?

Bob Marley, to me is the spokesperson of the 3rd world… he changed my perception on music, politics, life… ‘War,’ ‘Get Up Stand Up,’ ‘Could you be Love’ are some of my favorite songs…. Michael Jackson is a genius in complex simplicity (note: this interview was done 2 days before Michael’s death)…and Billy Cobham, a drummer from Panama, made me realize that this is what I wanted to do at 12 or 13…Also, Djavan for his songwriting, the rhythms in his music, his technique playing and singing…He’s the only artist I’ve been star struck by (other than Prince).


-what makes an amazing song?

What makes a good song to me is constantly changing… lyrics, the artist portraying feeling and a message to the listener, a song that makes people move, makes people feel… especially with my instrument I want to do that (make them feel)…


what’s your theme song?

My theme song is the same song in different modes.


-do you have musical nickname?

Batera, slang for drummer in Brasil.


-what song were you most likely conceived to?

Probably some bossa nova song.


-first concert you ever went to?

Beastie Boys.


-first album u ever bought?

Faith No More’s Epic


-how can we revolutionize music? 

Start by bringing LIVE instruments back and also revolutionizing radio- putting real songs on the radio- not catch phrases.


-indie or major (what’s the way to go?)

Indie with major distribution.


-what inspires you musically?

When people speak through their music passionately and honestly.


-what can an artist do (that you’re backing) to make your job easy and fun?

Give love and respect to their musician’s time and craft… you get what you give with your band (and with your audience)…


-what’s your favorite song from the album?

“Discombobulator” and “Te Necesito”


-advice for up and coming drummers?

Practice hard and run your race.


-what do you hope for the show?

For us to kill it, that everyone digs it… I hope it’s a party and that everyone has fun.

Listen to M.U.S.I.C. at http://www.myspace.com/andreebelle or http://www.andreebelle.com


Leo Costa

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My abuela was such a passionate, loving, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, and strong woman. She inspired in me a love for travel. She taught me what it was to be Puerto Rican. And she blessed me with her dancer genes. Though I am sad that she won’t be here in the physical to experience so much of my life, I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to tell her everything she meant to me before she left this plane on March 19, 2008.  I wanted to celebrate my abuela’s life musically, as i love connecting to the divine through singing and dancing, so I wrote “Abuela,” a song dedicated to mi querida abuela.  For those of you that don’t understand Spanish, the lyrics capture how though she is no longer with me in the physical sense she is all around me in nature (she is the sun, the moon, the earth, the sea… she’s within the heavenly womb, universal life) and her memory dances in me -i really do channel my abuela when i dance salsa. Te amo abuela!


Cada vez que la noche me acompana / Cada vez que las sombras te acercan a mi / Mas alla del pensamiento / Crece en mi un sentimiento

Te veo no estas / Tu recuerdo baila en mi / Cada paso, nota y verso / Todo lo dedico a ti / En mi alma y son / En cada cancion / Eres la razon / Abuela

Eres luna y sol / Cielo tierra y mar / Vientre celestial / Universo vivo

Te veo no estas / Tu recuerdo baila en mi / Cada paso, nota y verso / Todo lo dedico a ti / En mi Corazon / En cada cancion / Eres la razon / Abuela

Maria D.

Maria D.

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