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Sitti: Soothing the soul

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DIRECTLINE by Boy Abunda
Friday, August 1, 2008

SittiShe is known as the country’s Bossa Nova queen. Sitti has a gentle and soothing voice that calms and soothes both body and soul. Sitti is beauty and brains combined. She has depth and passion not only for her music but also for her advocacy in education. Her musical influences include Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn Astrud Gilberto and Gal Costa. Read on.




What other talent would you like to have aside from music and why?

The gift of poetry and of drawing from everyday occurrences and being able to weave lyrical lines with it. I find poetry so beautiful, and poets so extremely blessed. I just think it would be wonderful to be able to express lyrically, one’s emotions, whether subtle or outright. This is similar to my desire to write great lyrics. You know the kind that people will quote and remember long after you are gone from this world.

What is the song that best describes you?

Mas Que Nada. The message of the song is about loving the samba (the Brazilian street dance music), of not caring about the world at large but just celebrating the wonder of dancing to it. That’s how I am with my singing — I love expressing and losing myself to it and I don’t really care if people think I’m nasasapian already in my performances (and believe me, I’ve heard them say that, hehehe). I’m just there to celebrate the wonder of creating music and being a part of that creation.

What is your all-time favorite song? Why?

It is a song called Chega de Saudade, an Antonio Carlos Jobim composition and first recorded by Joao Gilberto. The lyrics and the melody never fail to capture and amaze me. Essentially, it is a song about missing someone so much that if that loved one returns, “there would be fewer fishes swimming in the sea than the kisses I will plant on his/her mouth,” just to quote a line. It’s very, very romantic.

How would you title a song about you?

A Gentle Breeze perhaps. I like to think my voice soothes and cools people to relaxation, Hahaha. I am not so sure though if that goes well with my disposition, too. I am very soft spoken, albeit sometimes when I’m having fun I lose that. Hmmm, let’s just say I’m not gentle all the time, but my singing voice is! Hahaha.

You are a Business Economics graduate from UP-Diliman, why did you pursue a singing profession?

Singing was something that just happened without me ever intending for it. Singing was a hobby for me while I was a freshman in college and I was doing the lounge circuit. A hobby and a significant source of my tuition fee, hehehe. I never really thought this would be my career. After I graduated in 2005, things fell into place as we recorded my first album Café Bossa (my manager Garrie Trinidad was the brains behind the bossa nova move, of which I’ve been singing since 2003). I had no idea it would be met with the acceptance it currently enjoys, and things just went off from there.

When and how did your love affair with music start?

Since I was very little. I’ve been singing Thank You for the Music, for as long as I could remember. Again, singing was something I never thought or dreamed of making a career of. Growing up, I was just one of the little kids prodded to sing in school activities and family reunions by the elders.

Who are your musical influences?

I will always admire and look up to the late great Ella Fitzgerald. She’s just amazing. Until now no one can match her musicality, her scat improvisations. I like the way Stacey Kent gives a playful lilt to her songs, Eva Cassidy for her soulful renditions, Sarah Vaughn for her jazz, Astrud Gilberto and Gal Costa for bossa nova. I am also in love with Claude Bolling and Yo-Yo Ma and I’ve been listening more to classical music lately.

Who are your favorite bossa nova artists? Why?

Astrud Gilberto and Gal Costa. Astrud is a legend, and Gal introduced me to a whole different approach to the genre. Sobrang nagagalingan ako sa kanya, effortless singing.

There are other bossa nova artists in the Philippines, who do you admire? How do you handle competition?

I admire the Guarana and Aquarela bands. Before Café Bossa, they have been playing bossa nova for a long time already; they offer the most authentic sound. The lead singer of Guarana, Eileen Sison, in fact, actually lived in Brazil to learn to speak the language and study the samba. Nyco Maca and Playground do electrosamba, which I also find very cool and deeply artistic.

Are you into song writing? If yes, what themes do you write about?

Yes, I am. I try to be, hahaha. I’ve finished only two songs though, about five pending. (Only one song was published, A Song for Penny Brown, in the album Mybossanova). Songwriting is actually what I also want to hone. As of now I am waiting for inspiration to strike once again, as it did for the two songs I’ve completed. I wish I could write as easily as Rico Blanco, hehehe, without waiting for inspiration to bless me, hahaha.

The song you will not sing?

Birit songs. I leave all that to Sarah (Geronimo), Rachelle (Ann Go), Sheryn (Regis), Aegis band, etc. It’s too strenuous on the vocal cords.

How do you say goodbye in a song?

I sing I Wish You Love, that’s my goodbye song. Or for any last song that I do, I give it my best.

What makes you beautiful?

I don’t know, hehehe. I can say though that just last week, I was feeling so utterly ugly. I was admittedly emotionally stressed and my mind wouldn’t let me sleep. So I guess when a person is relaxed, worry-free, then she/he can be beautiful.

If you could eliminate one emotion from your life, what would it be?

Nervousness, anxiety. I would like to be able to stand up on that stage with nary a frazzled nerve (it always messes up my breathing, voice, stance, etc., hehehe). And though I also know that I must always trust in the Lord, hence not to worry at all, I do. Pitfalls of being human, I guess.

What is the sexiest part of your body?

They say I have great legs, so I guess that would be it.

What is the best place on Earth?

Thirty or more feet underwater, where both the beautiful and ugly sea creatures live, in an environment so blue, so serene, so beautiful.

If you were to become a real life princess, who will be your prince?

It must be a given first that the prince wouldn’t stray, otherwise I wouldn’t want to be a princess at all. But seriously, whoever becomes my husband — he will be my prince.

The other job you would like to have? Why?

I would like to teach, to inspire and to motivate children, adolescents, go after their dreams, and to love learning. Currently I think this is lacking in our educational landscape. Our teens don’t place as much importance in education anymore, I think, and I would really like to motivate them.

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