Legendary Cuban Songstress Bobi Céspedes Celebrates Acclaimed 40-Year Career with New Album Mujer y Cantante
***For Immediate Release***
Legendary Cuban Songstress Bobi Céspedes
Celebrates Acclaimed 40-Year Career with New Album
Mujer y Cantante
“…for over 40 years Bay Area vocalist Bobi Céspedes has been celebrating her Afro Cuban roots
through her music and a new recording, Mujer y Cantante.” –NPR Alt.Latino
“The real star of the band is still Bobi Cespedes, a Cuban powerhouse of a woman who demonstrates on record and in concert that she is the worthy successor to the throne of Celia Cruz.” –Los Angeles Times
“Ms. Céspedes, an expatriate since 1959, sings prayers to Yoruba deities and impressions of California
in the leathery voice of a Yoruba celebrant…” –The New York Times
“Céspedes offers a refreshing taste of how tradition and innovation can intertwine,
without sacrificing either in the process.” –Billboard
“… her rich, deep voice is a stately, elegant reassuring presence…” –BBC Music
Oakland, Calif. – A legend of Cuban music, vocalist and bandleader Bobi Céspedes celebrates her lauded 40-year recording and live performance career with a new studio album, Mujer y Cantante. Céspedes furthers her legacy as one of the genre’s champion woman singers on Mujer y Cantante with eight dazzling original Cuban son compositions. Whether her voice soars on a raucous rumba or brings listeners to tears with a heart-wrenching classic bolero, Céspedes embodies a mastery of melding poignant narratives (Women Empowerment, Black Lives Matter) with melodic arrangements and deep Afro-Cuban rhythms. Mujer y Cantante translates to “Woman and Singer,” and her moment in the national spotlight as a formidable vocalist is among us.
Bobi Céspedes’ illustrious career shines bright with an array of accolades to her name. Along with global music and soul divas Angélique Kidjo and Meshell Ndegeocello, Céspedes performed at the “Freedom Sounds Celebration” inaugurating the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture. Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, Céspedes appeared with The Kennedy Center’s “Couch Concerts Series” and SFJAZZ presented a live-archived band performance as part of their “Fridays at Five.” Her longstanding connection with SFJAZZ further includes two sold-out Celia Cruz Tribute concerts (SFJAZZ Festival: 2016 & 2019). Céspedes’ music has been featured on Dexter (Season 4), the soundtrack for the film Half Nelson, and Peter Bratt’s movie, Follow Me Home. She further was a special guest on drummer Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead’s album, Supralingua, and a member of his touring band.
A Yoruba-Lucumi priestess for over half a century, Céspedes hits a pivotal career milestone on Mujer y Cantante with her return to traditional Cuban son, which she was raised on in her musical family. Céspedes harnesses a rare resilience and offers insights from ancestral teachings culled from centuries-old traditions. At a time when the world faces its most challenging times, she journeys to the spirits of the Orishas to bring visionary guidance and strength to listeners.
“There’s so much happening in the world today with the horrendous pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and women speaking truths to the imbalance of equality and injustice,” says Bobi Céspedes. “It’s essential for new music to inspire people and lift them up, that’s what I wanted to offer with Mujer y Cantante. We are all beautiful human beings and we need to come together and celebrate life.”
Featured Compositions – Bobi Céspedes – Mujer y Cantante
Mujer y Cantante opens with the title track that serves as an homage to Céspedes’ family of 14 kids and her parents. Her father was among the local historians who traveled by foot across Cuba for work. He traversed from town to town and was a prolific storyteller. She sings, “I am woman and singer. I like all that is good from my country. I carry the breast of all the Black wanderers from my uncle Pablo, the brilliant one… I have the magical carpet from my aunt Edita and the magic from MaBeatri’.” Céspedes confidently boasts that she is unstoppable; no one can bring her down.
“Ilé Mi” speaks to how one’s home is a nourishing haven full of grace and growth. It’s not the things you own, but rather leading a life in alignment with principles and teachings of the Orishas. “I know that Olofi (the sun) is very sacred and protects my surroundings… lots of people always come looking for peace and tenderness…it’s been many years I’ve been climbing this hill, how grateful I am,” she sings.
“Nada” describes separation from a lover, and in this case, her companion is the Cuban son. No matter how far you travel away from Cuba, you never forget the feeling of son. “El Choko Choko” serves as a life lesson that when you try to take too much, it falls between your hands. “The king does not lie, he who grabs too much drops the majority,” sings Céspedes. She continues with an upbeat tone, “If you want to have a good time, come dance with us. This melody I wrote called the choko choko.”
Dedicated to her mother, “Mamaíta” is an ode to the dedication and encouragement Céspedes received over the years as the youngest of 14 kids and a woman singer. “Mamaíta” is a powerful personal statement that her acclaimed band Conjunto Céspedes first recorded. Her latest version is refreshed with a new arrangement.
“Mi Canto” was written by Céspedes’ mother, and initially given to her by her mother on a tape recorder. Céspedes notes, “My mother was my light. She was determined to have one of her songs published, and this commemorates her beautiful soul. She once told me that she hums when she is feeling sad. I recall my mother always humming; I can’t believe she was sad so much of the time. She was a widow with 14 kids, sewing clothing for middle class women. I can certainly understand her sadness.”
“Rumbólogo” is a testament to Céspedes’ roots; she is an expert in rumba. She says, “God blessed my inheritance, my heritage. I feel grateful that I’m in the midst of all these famous soneros. On ‘Rumbólogo,’ I sing of the strength I’ve been given from my people. I’m filled with pride, and it’s sincerely expressed in this song.”
Mujer y Cantante closes with “Misas Modernas,” a humorous interpretation of modern spiritualism. Céspedes pokes fun at the commercialization of religious practices. She comments, “there’s a lot of gold and silver, but not a lot of substance of the tradition getting passed down from generation to generation. Our ancestors preferred broken plates, dirt and rocks and trees on the ground in the bush, not marble floors.”
Mujer y Cantante features Céspedes alongside her celebrated band, including pianist and musical director, Marco Díaz, guitarist and singer José Roberto Hernández, bassist Ernesto Mazar Kindelán, bongosero Julio Pérez, conguero Javier Navarrette, vocalist Elizabeth Fuentes, and special guests John Santos on batá drums, trumpeter Roberto Morris Amaya, and Camilo Landau on the Cuban tres. Mujer y Cantante was co-produced by Latin GRAMMY Award-winning producer, Kenya Autie; and mixed and mastered by GRAMMY Award-winning engineer, Oscar Autie.
For more information regarding Bobi Céspedes and Mujer y Cantante, please visit: bobicespedes.com.
Bobi Céspedes is available for interviews upon request.