Anjali Silva on World Café
By Camila Camara
We are at the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s a warm and sunny day out on the veranda. We’re drinking Mayan spiced coffee, and eating Anjali’s favorite – Kedem tea biscuits from Israel. Anjali is dressed in a salsa red, cotton skirt and blouse set, decorated in turquoise and coral jewelry. She is poised and calm, and looks radiant!
Tonight, Anjali and her band of Latin all stars will take the stage at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Anjali, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, has been singing Brazilian and Latin jazz music all of her life, and has just completed a magnificent CD of original music. She donates her time as a teacher and mentor in the under-served community of Olympia, Washington, where she resides.
Anjali, you have suddenly become one of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite World Music singers in such a short time. How did you get here?
Well, over the last few years, I have been working extra hard, and have remained focused on my goals. You see, I have been using the tools from the Master Mind Key affirmations, and following through on my promises to myself. Dada, my webmaster, and I put together an awesome website with great videos and music samples. This helped to boost my career, and things exploded after that! I have had great success networking with event planners in the city and beyond. I keep busy with concerts, weddings and corporate functions for Microsoft and Google. I am truly blessed!
Tell me about your new CD – Musica das Nuvens, recorded at Mirror Sound Studios in Seattle.
Musica das Nuvens, or Cloud Music, is a collaboration with Latin Grammy nominated master pianist and composer, Jovino Santos Neto. We met in Olympia about 3 years ago, and found we had mutual colleagues in common. I had been attending his shows, and built up the courage to approach him about doing a project together. When we finally got around to running some tunes together, we knew that it was something special. We put together a stellar combo with Jeff Busch on drums and percussion, and bass player Chuck Deardorf. We took our time writing and arranging several songs. Jovino is a master at composition and arranging complex Brazilian pieces. It was thrilling working with one the world’s greatest musicians in this context!
I have listened to the CD, and it is fantastic! I find it intriguing that you sing fluently in 3 different languages. Also, the grooves for each song are completely different from one another.
Yes. I grew up singing in Spanish and Portuguese (phonetically). My parentage is Mexican, Portuguese and Jewish. My introduction to funk music came from listening to black artists growing up, and dancing with my African American sister-friends at school and in clubs. The Bay Area sound in the 60s and 70s was a mix of funk, Latin, African and Caribbean music. Brazilian music came on the scene full force in the 1980s, and is now a part of the blend. That’s when I began to perform and learn from others. In my early 20s, I joined Brazilian and Latin jazz groups around the Bay Area, and worked with some of the finest musicians in the business.
Tell me about your family life – where do you live?
I have a modest home in Olympia, in one of the older, wooded neighborhoods. It’s quiet and peaceful there. I like to cook a variety of foods, just as my mother did, so my kitchen is my haven. My kids and my husband are quite the bunch – they are very geeky and talk about science and math all the time. There’s a lot of warmth, laughter and music in our home. I enjoy being with them all.
That sounds fun! How do you keep up your health with your hectic schedule of performing and touring?
Well, I work out 3 times a week, and I love to walk on the boardwalk, or in the woods around here. The Washington air helps to strengthen my lungs. We only eat organic, and lots of fruits and veggies. Drinking water is important too. I have never felt better! I have been meditating for over 20 years, so a daily practice of kiirtan and meditate with my husband is a must. I find that is helps to relax us, but more importantly, it sets the tone in our day to day life. We are kinder to everyone we meet, when we can see them as an expression of God.
And tell me about that husband of yours – Elay. Where did you two meet?
We met several years ago when I was singing in a restaurant what used to be known as Rainbow. This is the same restaurant where several of my friends had found the love of their lives in the 1970s, and are still together today! I was disenchanted with my life at the time. One evening, while singing and dancing kiirtan for a long time, I had asked God to bring me a partner who would be loving and kind; who would see my true soul, and with whom I could travel. I heard my mama’s voice from the heavens saying, “And make sure he’s Jewish!” Two weeks later, in walks this handsome, wonderful man, with a twinkle in his eye! We’ve been together ever since.
What a sensational story, thank you for sharing that. Tell me, what do you do on your off time?
We are happiest traveling to other countries, especially where they speak Spanish. We both are intrigued by Hispanic and Indigenous cultures. We also enjoy going out to hear live music, and dancing together – Latin, classic rock, reggae – you name it. Elay’s got a great sense of humor, and we laugh together a lot! There is so much warmth and understanding between us. We feel like we have come home!
I can see that! You are lucky to have found each other. I understand that you do service together as well. I’m sure that helps to strengthen your relationship.
Yes. Elay tutors students in math and science at CIELO center in Olympia. It’s an education and counseling center for Spanish speaking immigrants. I rotate teaching music, yoga, meditation and vegetarian cooking classes. We are passionate and excited about giving back to the community!
Well Anjali, it has been great visiting with you. Thank you for sharing your life with us at World Café.
Thank you Camila, it was a pleasure talking with you today!
***This piece is fiction, based on an MKE exercise.