- Musician Interview: "Tuned, You and Me" · March 24, 2010
Influences: Alison Krauss, Angelique Kidjo, Aretha Franklin, Astrud Gilberto, Basia Trzetrzelewska, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Cockburn, Chrissie Hynde, Emmy Lou Harris, Enya, Fleetwood Mac, Gloria Estefan, Grace Slick, the Grateful Dead, Heart, Ho’onu’a, I-Three, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, the Judds, Judy Mowatt, Kate Wolf, Katie Melua, Laura Nyro, Linda Ronstadt, Lord Kitchener, Marcia Griffiths, Maria Muldaur, Miriam Makeba, Nara Leáo, Patti LaBelle, Paul Simon, Pentangle, Peter Paul and Mary, Rita Coolidge, Rita Marley, Sade, Selena, Simon and Garfunkel, Steeleye Span, Sting, Taj Mahal
“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.
“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.”
Woolley has performed in numerous concerts, expositions, cruise ships, musicals, renaissance faires, street theatre troupes, holistic celebrations, and benefit events. Her customized original meditation music and voice recordings have gained a wide audience. She specializes in jazz, world, adult contemporary, trop-rock, reggae, salsa, samba, pop, country, folk, and other music genres.
“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.”
She says that, ironically, the current economy is allowing her time to focus on the originals she 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.”