Latina band LADAMA rocks the Berklee stage
On Thursday, March 21, the feminist Latina band LADAMA performed at Berklee as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston Stave Sessions festival. The group comprises four talented female musicians from four countries: Lara Klaus (Brazil); Daniela Serna (Colombia); Mafer Bandola (Venezuela); and Sara Lucas (United States). Pat Swoboda accompanied them on the bass. Fusing music and education, cultural heritage and contemporary flair, the group aims to transcend boundaries and bring people together.
Throughout their two-hour Stave Sessions set, each LADAMA musician seamlessly played multiple instruments and sang everything from protest songs to unifying ballads. Gonzalez strummed magic from the chords of the bandola llanera, a traditional Venezuelan instrument with few well-known female players. Serna spat Spanish rhymes with a casual ease. Stave Sessions is a series that features up-and-coming musical trailblazers in an intimate setting. The series ran for five nights, from March 19 to 23, and featured musicians from a variety of genres and backgrounds.
Everything about LADAMA’s work transcends boundaries. The musicians fly across country and continent lines to rehearse and record together. Their rhythms fuse chords from traditional instruments with a contemporary message empowering women to own their talents and experience. “Porro Maracatu” is a prime example of their fusion style. From the first note, the Berklee stage rocked with Afro-Colombian and Afro-Brazilian rhythms. The women chanted the first verses in chorus before Serna broke out into a Spanish rap. The lyrics, translating to “Get ready to dance now that this/rhythm is very hot/From Bogotá to Recife/From Venezuela to New York,” underscore the group’s unifying message.
Each performer has a dynamic individual activism practiced when the group is not on tour. Gonzalez teaches master classes in the bandola llanera, working to bring more women into the male-dominated field of traditional Venezuelan music. Klaus works with the NGO Integrarte, using music therapy techniques to teach performance practices to musicians with Down syndrome. Serna is the founder of La Perla, an all-female Caribbean folk band, which recently won the XXXI Festival de Gaita Larga Francisco Llirene in Colombia. Lucas has worked with Found Sound Nation and Hear Be Dragons as a facilitator for production workshops with youth in Brooklyn and Hudson, New York.
But when the group is all together to perform their original compositions, a unique magic happens. LADAMA’s performance is fortified by the strength of their musical ancestors, fueled by ever-developing contemporary beats and energized by a magnetic confidence that comes from owning their power. By the end of the concert, LADAMA had everyone in the audience on their feet, dancing traditional Latin American steps and singing along in Spanish, Portuguese and English.