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“Music tunes people,” says singer Sabira Woolley. “If my music appeals to you, then my tuning is attuned with yours. I write songs that come from my truth, with the intention of bringing listeners into what I experience as joy and deep soulfulness. It comes from my heart.”

Born in Coronado, Woolley left San Diego at 16 and headed for Canada, where she sang and played guitar as a busker in Vancouver’s Gastown district. Later moving to San Francisco, she studied voice with classical instructor Stewart Brady and guitar and harmony singing with Carol McComb. She learned the banjo before returning to San Diego to play lead steel pan with Island Fever. She also writes and performs her own songs.

“My current music blends jazz, world, hip-hop, reggae, some Caribbean, Latin, African rhythms, and folk rock. Lyrically, I write stories of finding one’s way to wisdom, of forgiveness and harmony in relationships, learning to trust a good man, learning to trust one’s purpose, overcoming hardships with expanded awareness, finding inner guidance and all-encompassing love, and the bliss and serenity of being alone in nature.”

Woolley is working on two new CDs, one as a solo artist and another with Island Fever, both to be released this year. She performs April 24 with Island Fever at Birch Aquarium.

HOW DOES ONE MAKE A LIVING PLAYING MUSIC NOWADAYS?

“Ironically, the current economy is allowing me time to focus on the originals I had to neglect in the past while rushing from gig to gig. To make ends meet, for years I’ve had to be versatile and brave. I stayed employed by saying ‘yes’ to new musical situations, including a lot of variety-band shows with Top 40 songs, standards, ballads, and all kinds of requests and themes. My tastes are diverse, anyway.”

WHAT SONGS TOP YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1) Karla Bonoff, “The Water Is Wide.” “The beauty of her voice in this song brings tears to my eyes and pathos within my heart.”

2) Walela, “Wash Your Spirit Clean.” “A Native American vocal trio, ‘walela’ means ‘hummingbird’ in the Cherokee tongue. The singers are Rita Coolidge, her sister Priscilla Coolidge, and Priscilla’s daughter Laura Satterfield. The first verse, sung in Cherokee and in English, says, ‘Give away the things you don’t need/ Let it all go, and you’ll soon see/ And you’ll wash your spirit clean.’ ”

3) Mary Black, “Both Sides the Tweed.” “The title refers to the River Tweed, which divides Scotland and England. The song was written in 1707 by James Hogg and rewritten in 1979 by Dick Gaughan, both times remonstrating against bribery and the corruption behind government policies.”

4) Katie Melua, “Mary Pickford.” “The song is a charming, quick history of early cinema celebrities. I especially like the refrain ‘When these artists became united.’ We could expand upon that with current local artists.”

5) Carmen Alice and Sergio Mendes Brasileiro, “What Is This?” “Bahian-style spoken word to a hip-hop samba beat, featuring berimbau and surdo drums. It seems to me to tell of a journey of the soul, to an enlightening experience.”

6) Boukman Eksperyans, “Liberté (Pran Pou Pran’l).” “This roots-music ten-piece band is named Boukman, after the vodou priest and slave regarded to have initiated the 1791 Haitian revolution, and Eksperyans, after the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The song title means ‘Freedom (Let’s Take It).’ ‘Liberté’ is sung in a street-slang Creole tongue that was at times forbidden by law, about their passionate longing for freedom.”

MUST-HAVE DVDs?

1) What the Bleep Do We Know!?

2) The Princess Bride

3) Dances with Wolves

4) Galaxy Quest

WHAT’S DIFFERENT IN CANADA (FROM THE U.S.)?

1) “Weather, of course.”

2) “People say ‘eh?’ instead of ‘huh?’ ”

3) “I had to buy tortillas in a can in the gourmet section.”

4) “Due to the higher water vapor in the air, everything looks soft and misty, instead of sharply defined and vivid like Southern California tends to be.”

TWO QUOTABLE QUOTES?

1) “Reality. What a concept.” — Robin Williams. “It astonishes me, too.”

2) “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss. “Fortunately, being true to one’s self does work out for the best.”

MOST VISITED WEBSITES?

1) Abraham-Hicks.com “I love their teachings on the Law of Attraction; i.e., the secret behind The Secret.”

2) Mercola.com “Dr. Mercola’s very helpful info on health.”

3) Wikipedia.org “I refer to it for so many things.”

4) Facebook.com “I keep in touch with a lot of friends and make new ones here.”

5) Twitter.com “I’m just starting to flit about.”

ONLINE SUBSCRIPTIONS?

“I subscribe every year to Jacquie Lawson’s artistic animated e-cards because they’re heartwarming and I like to send them to friends and family.”

WHAT’S MORE DIFFICULT, BANJO OR STEEL PAN?

“The steel pan requires a deft and delicate touch to stay in tune. One accidental hard whack can muck up your pan’s sound. It must also be protected from sun and other heat sources. Unlike the banjo and other stringed instruments, tuning pans correctly requires much skill, developed from years of practice. So, I’d have to say the pan is more challenging.”

ANY FEARS OR PHOBIAS?

“I’m kinda afraid that, at one of my gigs, someone will request the ‘Macarena.’”

RECURRING DREAM?

“I’m a woman being attacked by small marauding felines in a house bursting with boxes of costumes waiting to be unpacked and no place to put them.”

NAME SOMEONE YOU RELATE TO…

“Jane Goodall, since I have interacted with so many animals, and I’m so fond of them.”

WHO SHOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?

“Maybe Jodie Foster.”

WHAT CELEBRITY DO PEOPLE SAY YOU LOOK LIKE?

“RuPaul. Ha!”

FAVORITE VIDEO GAME?

“The only game I own is Timelapse. I’ve neglected it…but it has awesome graphics, and it’s probably a mentally rewarding puzzle to solve.”

THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT SABIRA WOOLLEY?

1) “I’ve seen many animals in the wild, including a whooping crane, a California condor, a jaguarundi, and arctic owls.”

2) “I hitchhiked from San Diego to Vancouver and back, carrying a banjo and wearing a hat that used to belong to a horse.”

3) “I’ve performed as a belly dancer, an alien, a pirate, and a lady wrestler.”

4) “I once sang ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Rock Lobster’ at the same gig.”

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Comments

SDaniels March 24, 2010 @ 11:02 p.m.

Jayallen, can you tell what kind of cat she is kissing in the photo? Ocicat?

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Jay Allen Sanford March 24, 2010 @ 11:37 p.m.

Just looked at the file for this story, and it refers to this pic's "Savannah cat."

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SDaniels March 25, 2010 @ 12:19 a.m.

Thanks, Jayallen. I'm not sure what "Savannah" cat might suggest, but will look at her site for possible info. What a gorgeous beast!

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Sabira March 25, 2010 @ 1:33 a.m.

She is a Savannah cat named Capoeira, and my very dear pal. She just had two kittens this week.

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maryjane March 25, 2010 @ 6:35 p.m.

Hi Jayallen. Just happened to see Sabira perform last Friday. She is amazing! Sabira has an exquisite voice and plays her steel drum beautifully. I plan to have a summer party and I hope that she is available for us. Where can I sign up to order her upcoming CD's?

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bethduver March 25, 2010 @ 8:15 p.m.

Very happy to see your article on Sabira, Jayallen! I have been following her and Island Fever's exploits ever since I saw her perform at USD in 2003. I remember she did a Blondie song, a polka, a Bob Marley song and a hot salsa tune all in the same set. She had everyone screaming, laughing and dancing and I was hooked. I can't believe a record company hasn't picked her up. Keep up the good work!

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eclare1 March 29, 2010 @ 1:39 p.m.

I've known and followed Sabira's musical talent for years...she has a beautiful clear strong voice that doesn't even need any music, but her music is awesome also! She writes and performs her own songs with beauty harmony and humor, plays so many instruments (including banjo), can take on any persona for any kind of party...whether country western ("She's a hot blooded filly and she's been in the stall too long...a song written by Sabira), reggae, jazz, rennaissance, classic rock, pop, you name it...she and her band perform it with all the costumes and act that go with it! They love what they are doing and it shows. They are great at weddings, receptions, meetings, dances, proms, parties...Please write more about Sabira so we can follow her career and promote her! Thank you! eclare

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Jet March 29, 2010 @ 2:30 p.m.

I saw Sabira perform at the La Jolla Hotel right on the beach last summer. She was amazing and the entire ambiance made for an unforgettable evening! Her beautiful voice and the steel pan she played made us feel like we were vacationing on a tropical beach in Hawaii- It was magical:) I brought some friends to see her the following weekend and to celebrate a birthday. As it turned out Sabira performed at their wedding years ago! Thank you for the lovely article- it is so much fun to hear about her life and interests. Can we count on her staying in San Diego so that we can see her this coming summer?

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antigeekess March 29, 2010 @ 6:59 p.m.

Sabira fans, if you click Jay's link in the first line of this story, it leads you here:

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/bands/sabira-woolley/

...which gives you her entire schedule of upcoming appearances. If that's not enough Sabira for you, there are always her MySpace and Facebook pages.

http://www.myspace.com/sabrawoolley (5 songs)

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sabira-Woolley/182200153275?ref=ts

:)

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scottman April 1, 2010 @ 11:45 p.m.

I used to take my kids to the San Diego Zoo summer nightime entertainment for many years. Their favorite show was the one by Sabira and Island Fever. In fact, that's why we always bought the year-round passes. They were so much fun. Nighttime Zoo hasn't been the since they moved on. Thank you for bringing some attention to this fabulous entertainer and her band. I know they have entertained thousands of people during their 'Zoo' years, and hope they find the success they deserve.

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