Born: February 14 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
I began singing.. must have been while I was learning to talk, because I don't remember a time when I did not sing. Music and singing is a constant companion to all the memories I have.
- Born in Washington D.C., raised in Southern California, Waberi stood firm on her love for uniquely Black music @ a very early age. Being raised by her grandparents, who were straight-ahead Jazz enthusiasts (her grandmother was a tap dancer with The Nicholas Brothers) - some of the first music she witnessed was the recordings of such deeply-connected musicians as Coltrane, Ellington, Dizzy, Mahalia, Billie, Louis Armstrong, Betty, Sarah, Monk and Miles as well as the contemporary music of her parents' generation like the Divinely-expressive music of Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament, Jimi, The Jones Girls, Phoebe Snow, Natalie Cole, Ohio Players, and more... The musical sensibilities of all these souls are firmly rooted within her musical reference.
Waberi studied music throughout childhood, from school choirs, to community plays, and local church and social groups. She was writing poetry and short stories as well. To remain connected to learning music, she chose music as a major course of study at Langston University in Oklahoma, specifically, Classical Voice.
It turned out to be the best experience any vocalist could have.
The lessons I learned, both in terms of the language of music, and the mechanics of vocalizing were invaluable, and the disposition of a dedicated musician, the discipline it takes to be fluent with your instrument, is something I live with daily.
After college, Waberi lived in Hawaii on three different islands: Maui, Hawaii, and The Big Island, where her poetry became songs, and she played music in the local Jawaiian (Jamaican/Hawaiian music) scene, with island favorites SAHRA INDIO and Marty Dread. After four years, she returned to Los Angeles and was drawn back to the Village.
The Leimert Park Village, the infamous community that is home to The World Stage Performance Gallery, founded by Billy Higgins and Kamau Daood...
- in Los Angeles, California, and is home to many prominent Jazz, Blues, Hip Hop, Spoken Word, Painting, Dance, Drum greats from the African diaspora, serves as a backdrop for much of her current musical mentorship. Billy Higgins himself would play drums for her sets at the Stage, and then have a cup of tea with me after the set and play acoustic guitar... Billy Higgins was a Special Being. It was an honor to know him and to play with him and we ALL still feel him in the Village.
She has studied and/or played with notable performers and scholars like Dr. Art Hillary, Dini Clark, Phil Upchurch, Azar Lawrence, Nate Morgan, Bennie Maupin, Big Black, to name a few. Being one of the Voices, a member of The Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra and The Great Voice of UGMAA (Union of God's Musicians and Artists' Ascension), with Horace Tapscott - world renown avante-garde jazz pianist at the helm, allowed me to meet and play with people like Pharoah Sanders, Abby Lincoln, Gil Scott Heron... I was at the feet of the greats, my she and heroes, and I was taking notes.
Waberi has performed around Los Angeles with various bands and ensembles, from SoulBop (an L.A. based collective of jazz musicians), R&B to West African Drum and Dance bands; 50-piece Jazz arkestras to solo acapella sets. After appearing on various recordings, including the Jazz CD Living Water by vocalist extraordinaire DWIGHT TRIBLE in 2002, and classic Reggae CD Good's Gonna Happen by appropriately named Jah's Jewel - Sahra Indio, Waberi is releasing her Muse; her personal musical expression.
Some have said her voice is reminiscent of Betty Carter, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holiday or Roberta Flack... but it has a particular sound that belongs to no one else. It has been called an enigma. Her delivery -Divine, her tone - enticed by the Spirits. Resonant and rich, it has a singular texture and is seasoned with life's experience; filtered through her, as a vessel.
Calling on the lessons from growing up with a deep love for Black music, consistent study and application of music and its mechanics, and a deep understanding of Ancestral legacy and obligation, Waberi is dedicated to upholding a standard of artistry that serves to UPLIFT, ENLIGHTEN and most of all EVOLVE Black music. To help do for Black Music what Jazz did for America.