MATAGALPA- Indie rockers, singer/songwriters, folk pioneers, and revolutionary poets. These are all descriptions that apply to musicians Elsa Basil, Gaby Baca, Clara Grün, and Katia Cardenal, who rocked out Saturday night in honor of International Women’s Day.
At a free concert organized by the Network of Women of Matagalpa (Red de Mujeres de Matagalpa), these singular women took the stage to celebrate the Nicaraguan feminist movement and draw attention to the realities faced by women in Nicaragua today.
The songs from the quartet ranged across the emotional spectrum, from celebration and humor to indignation and grief.
Clara Grün, the youngest of the group, sang a wry song about “men who think the world revolves around them” with her ethereal voice and keyboard filling the stage. Grün’s piano-accompanied vocals draw on the lineage of singer/songwriters like Tori Amos, while Elsa Basil’s rich voice and electric guitar resound with warmth, folk rock-style.
Gaby Baca spoke of the need to restitute women’s right to therapeutic abortion in a poignant song about a mother who learns her pregnancy may cost her life. Her portrayal of men who catcall in a reggaeton-flavored tune had the crowd laughing in recognition and singing the chorus, “I want to walk down the street… without men whistling at me.”
Katia Cardenal is perhaps the best-known female singer/songwriter in Nicaragua. Now a soloist, she and her brother Salvador, who passed away two years ago, formed the Dúo Guardabarranco in 1980. Her soprano shines on the folk songs they wrote during the Sandinista revolution, including the classic “Guerrero del amor.”
Cardenal has lent her celebrity to the campaign, “Yo te creo” or “I believe you,” to prevent sexual abuse of children and adolescents.
The performers expressed their passionate activism via songs with messages of care for the earth and solidarity with their compañeras. Their powerful voices blended in harmony on shared numbers: Basil, Cardenal, and Grün joined together on the lyrical “El Inmenso Mar” penned by Basil and Cardenal, while Baca (a.k.a. “la Baca loca”) rapped on a song by Grün.
To close the concert, the women sang “Soy mas cuando canto con vos” or “I’m more when I sing with you,” a hymn to the sisterhood that inspires them.
If you missed the show, catch the video for “Todas Juntas, Todas Libres” from Grün, Basil, and Baca on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3Sfmz6EPwk&feature=related
Sara Van Note is a freelance writer and radio producer based in Matagalpa. You can read her blog about her explorations in Nicaragua at saravannote.wordpress.com.