Angela, the 25 years of music from the pioneer of reggae in Chile

“I started in music very young. Since the 5 years that I have memories that I was passionate about listening to music and singing. That's when I realized that I really liked music., but I never imagined myself making music, I thought I would always be someone who enjoyed it, but my grandpa said: 'the girl is going to be a singer'”, Ángela comments on her grandfather's fulfilled prediction.

He wasn't wrong. It's more, Angela is getting ready to celebrate 25 year career this Friday 24 March in the SCD Egaña Hall, in a very important and emotional show for the singer who, without looking for it, She became the pioneer of female reggae in Chile.

In dialogue with Reggae Chalice, the artist reviewed her musical beginnings, the discovery of reggae, the path traveled, her greatest joys and also some sorrows that have shaped her into the woman she is today.

He affirms that his musical lineage comes from his maternal grandfather, who was at the time the singer of the town of Upeo, located in the foothills sector of the commune of Curicó. “He went to weddings, baptisms, to all types of ceremonies, he was in charge of musicalizing, that's where my musical roots come from”, holds.

With around 11 years he had his first musical school in the choir of the church he attended with his mother, where he learned about music, songs and playing guitar.

“I made a commitment to Jah, despite everything about Catholicism and that it had many contradictions with that topic, I had a great love for Jah, I knew I wanted to be there and sing those songs.. I found it super spiritual. I told Jah that I was always going to sing to him in gratitude for having discovered that gift in me.”, admit.

He remained singing there for many years while at the same time at high school he studied lyrical singing where he learned technique and discipline.. “I was doing very well, was prominent in the choir. I felt like that was my thing.”.

The discovery of reggae

After finishing his fourth year, his taste was mainly in black musical styles such as funk and hip hop., with The Tits like one of your favorite bands, in addition to Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, James Brown y George Clinton, among others.

Life introduced her to reggae through several events in which she met people who have been very important to her in various ways..

One of those people is dj Pensativo, who, by chance of existence, went to an institute close to his high school, which is why I saw him every day when I left school., although she got to know him in another instance.

At a Los Tetas gig he saw him again. “I thought: 'I see it here and I see it when I leave my school, how odd'. And in that performance we spoke, We met and he told me that he was with some friends and there he introduced me to DJ Patuá and Boomer”, comments.

I had seen the latter live with the funk band in a collaboration (feat) that they had and in their own words “grated the potato” with Chilean raggamuffin. “I found it amazing, I loved that fusion”, remember.

“Pensa was responsible for introducing me to reggae music., there I discovered reggae directly, but not from outside, but he introduced me to Gondwana. He handed me a cassette and told me to listen to this Chilean group that had just released their first album and that it was very good.. I heard it and there my heart opened. It was like an illumination, because I found that it was the music that I liked to listen to the most and it also spoke to God, They talked to Jah all the time, spiritual era, spoke positive things, of love, That synchronized with me and that's when I was triggered., A path was opened for me on which I am until now.”, Angela says.

“This was everything I wanted, this is perfect, This is everything I wanted, sing to Jah through a music that is born to me, that springs from me, and spiritually it was perfect for me”.

Angela and reggae

And from here everything developed exponentially. After an invitation from Pensativo to a show at a nightclub in Viña del Mar, he met the members of Gondwana and shared with them.

The impulse of Quique Neira and his first steps in reggae

From that meeting he remembers that Quique Neira, Vocalist of the band, He urged her to sing - even though her mother didn't let her.- and risk it for your dreams, so he quit the job he had at the time and enrolled in the SCD singing school., where Neira himself had studied.

He also met Don Chico (Ras Don), at that time Gondwana percussionist, with whom he cultivated a great friendship that led to an invitation to do choirs in another band in which the musician participated called Sudaka Vibration, what would mean his first experience in reggae.

“Without having heard me sing, he invited me to join a group - where he played the drums.- to do the choirs. I said: 'but what choirs? I have never sung reggae, I do not know how to do it, but I would love it'. And I told him that now”, Angela says.

And thus she became the first woman to join this incipient and nascent reggae-rasta movement., when he had not yet surpassed 20 years.  

“At that time I had no reference for female reggae singers as such.. I had to be the only one singing reggae officially and that drew attention. I still didn't get the weight of the matter, It all happened so fast that I didn't stop to think about it at the time., I took the weight over the years”, recognized.

“There was also a lot going on spiritually., where she was also the only rasta sister, who was wanting to carry the spiritual faith of Rastafari, there were no more, then I became a semi pet of the brothers, eggs. Since middle school my friends always called me Angelito., My mates, then Pensa met me like that and I was like the Little Angel. Everyone among the brothers started calling me that. Everyone took care of me, They gave me material, they helped me, they took me. I was the princess of all the brothers I surrounded myself with at that time”, highlights.

Another of the milestones of his career is his participation in the choirs of one of the fundamental albums of roots reggae from the south of the world and in Spanish., the disc Praise of Gondwana, as well as taking over as vocalist of the fleeting group Addis Ababa, where she was also able to develop her streak as a composer, experience that he treasures and guards with great affection.

“My music has remained in people's hearts and memories., but in a mystical way, not something temporary, everyone remembers that time as something special, that has marked them for their own lives. And me too. That band gave me all the confidence to later continue being a soloist.”, says the singer.

In all this maelstrom your motherhood also arrived

—I had a family with Don Chico, who at that time was a Gondwana percussionist , nthen there was a hint of popularity in my environment. That wasn't something I decided, we just fell in love. Had 4 sons, all in a row, between the 20 and the 24 years, Plus he was super young. and what it means for a woman to be a mother has a hormonal context from which no one is immune.. I had my pre and postpartum depressions and I had many, for each pregnancy and mentally I had all these responsibilities, this weight, And I also had to be a good mother., good companion and it didn't work for me.

I guess it was a tough time?

I assume that what I had to go through was exposed, but I don't deny that, I accept and remember all those processes with a lot of love. I know that, at those moments, with depression, one feels that it is the worst, but they are part of the processes and I don't think I was the first or the last or the only woman to have something like this happen to them., the only difference is that they were always watching me, from everywhere, but not only musically, but personally, in how I behaved, how I did it or didn't do it and that was the stressful thing..

During these years he continued collaborating on different albums, like the album of La Nueva Alianza Don't let them stop you (2001) beside Alika and the Dance Union; Reason, Meditation, Action (2005) of Alika; Forever Loving Jah (2002) where he appears with a spectacular version of “Stiff Necked Fools” of Bob Marley, in addition to collaborations with other singers and reggae groups of the time.

The debut album and its happiest moments in music

Shortly after, in between 2005 Y 2006, started working on his debut album, which saw the light in 2009 and it was called Dressed with the Sun.

“I made a demo that was so good it could have been an album, but it only had packaged music, through riddims that happened to me Lucky charm, Oskar T, José Dolores, and I started creating my songs and recorded them. But it was just packaged music, but I didn't dare release it as an album. I was at it when Ras Don tells me that he has riddims recorded by the band Roots and Culture, What are the riddims he made an album with? Pablo Molina. He tells me that he can provide them to me and we will release the album with this music., after adapting my lyrics and melodies”, holds.

This album brought him, in his own words, one of the most beautiful moments of his career, with a tour to Mexico that was unexpected, but very rewarding.

“One of the nicest things this album brought me was a tour to Mexico for two weeks. They took me with everything paid, even my breaths and I also came with money for the house because they paid me for every date I did and they paid me for some dubplates that I made for the DJ who accompanied me throughout the tour, because I went with packaged music and he played it. It was one of the most wonderful things that reggae and music has brought to me as Ángela”, emphasizes.

“In Mexico they told me that it was noticeable that there was a reference for my voice in the voices of many sisters that were heard in Latin America and that is super nice for me., it's super beautiful”, emphasized.

The rough things in life

Although life gives us wonderful moments like the one described above, There are also other types of more complex episodes that must be faced, like the death of our loved ones.

“My music has always been like mystique, where I realize that I am preparing for things that are going to happen to me. There's a new song I did last year called 'Hurts’, that came to me when I tried to have a new love relationship that didn't come to anything. I wrote it easily, I didn't have to question myself much.. When I manage to write a song in one go it is because the song was already ready.”, states.

“That song was preparing me for something that happened to me in November of last year that was super heavy., Never in my life did I imagine something like this would happen to me.. Due to a domestic accident, my parents' house burned in Curacaví with my father inside and he died.. It's the most terrible thing in my life and that song is called 'Duele'’ and it came to me and prepared me for what was going to happen. Months after writing it I felt such strong pain and I feel it to this day and I don't think it will happen., that pain is going to go down, but it will always be there”, admit.

He acknowledges that he thought about canceling this Friday's concert, since the efforts to obtain the SCD premises were made by Egaña before this tragic event., but finally he decided to have this celebration.

“I asked for the SCD Room before that happened and after it happened I wouldn't have asked for anything, I don't have the energy to celebrate, but when they responded and said yes, that they had available the day I ordered, at that time, I didn't have to accommodate anything, So I felt like that was a sign that I had to do it.. My dad was practically telling me 'come on'”, says Angela..

“He was my big fan, supported me, I bought all the tickets. I hoped he would be there that day., I imagined him on stage, to my mom, all my family, but it won't be able to be like that, he will not be physically, but he will be with me, has been with me all this time. I know that everything that has happened has been in part because he has helped me a lot to make it happen.. That's why I kept going, because I felt that he wants me to do it. He always held me all my things and I have to move on”, asserts.

And so, after 25 years of musical history, where he has also developed other collective projects such as Matriarka Sound System o to Popular Women's Song, we come to this friday 24 March to the SCD Egaña Hall for the celebration of Ángela, who will have several guests.

What can you tell us about this Friday's show??

—Will be Boomer and Talulah Neira, that in addition to being colleagues, they have been great friends, We have experienced a lot of things together in parallel. Boomer and I became parents almost at the same time., we were doing similar things, he has always invited me to sing, we have recorded videos, a lot of school with him. With Talulah, She has been a great support., as executive production, promotion, what steps to follow. She herself told me 'you give it, don't throw yourself’ below’. In fact she told me that 'You are the first woman of Chilean reggae and you have to capitalize on that and you are going to put that to all the things they ask you, on all your pages. I was inspired by you, I started singing for you'. further, the band that will accompany me is Pulso Native, besides my backup singers Michelle and Consu, to review my career and maybe some surprises.

After this review of Ángela's career, the invitation is made for this Friday 24 March in the SCD Egaña Hall, from 20:30 hours, and tickets can be purchased through Eventrid.