Kabiosile: afro cuban music from the source


Kabiosile is an independent film and record company dedicated to preserving and sharing music from the various Afro Cuban traditions found in Matanzas, Cuba. The name is an Afro Cuban pronunciation and spelling of the Yoruba word "kabiyesi," which means "Hail your Majesty." Kabiosile! or Kawo Kabiosile! is a salutation of respect for Chango, the warrior Orisha of thunder and lightning and the owner of all drums.

The label was started by Tina Gallagher in 2003. She was so moved by the power of the music she encountered in Matanzas that she wanted to share it with others.

"My first night in Cuba I was taken to a tambor. When we walked in, they were just finishing the presentation of a new priest of Yemaya. Within moments, seven priests of Yemaya were possessed by their Orishas. I burst into tears! I mean, literally sobbing.  I couldn't control myself. I had never experienced anything so powerful in my life...

"Within Cuba they call Matanzas "la fuente," meaning the fountain or source, because the traditions are so strong here. Not just Santeria, but Palo Mayombe, Arara, Abakua...all the African traditions."

Tina is assisted by her husband, Alberto Calvo, a highly respected Santero, Palero, Abakua, drummer and singer in Matanzas who serves as Kabiosile's Artistic Director. Reynier Urrutia, a young, very talented drummer and singer, has provided critical assistance with the lyrics and interviews for the most recent Kabiosile project (La Fuerza del Tambor). Salvador Gonzalez, one of Cuba's most exciting artists and a priest of Chango, created all the artwork for Kabiosile's discs.

Tina has also benefited from the experience and excellent advice of Michael Spiro, master drummer and recording artist (his CD Bata Ketu is a gem in the Afro Cuban folkloric discography) and Greg Landau, recording executive (Round World Music Productions), artist, and all-around incredibly helpful person. CDBaby, Kabiosile's official retailer, has made Internet fulfillment a very secure piece of cake.

Tina is a priest of Obatala. She was initiated in Oakland, California in 1996, in the house of Peter De Jesus.  "As a Iyawo, I was determined to learn the songs.  It's one of the main ways we pray, after all. So I did a lot of research on the Internet, and I bought every single CD I could find. Lázaro Ros, of course, Milton Cardona, the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, all the Abbilona CDs, even Mercedes Valdés.  Anything and everything that had "Orisha" anywhere in the title or description. I had an hour commute to work at the time. I'd stack 6 Orisha CDs in the player, and away I'd go...

"I think the music is one of the most beautiful aspects of our religion, both powerful and uplifting. The opportunity to share some of that beauty with the rest of the world has been a great blessing for me."