MADELINA Y LOS CARPINTEROS
Madelina y Los Carpinteros is a multicultural Latin American ensemble following the tradition of the Nueva Canción and Nueva Trova – movements that came out of The Americas' liberation struggles to freshly embody the folk roots with an enriched lyricism – The group sings original compositions as well as unique interpretations of music from South American and the Andes, from Cuba and Puerto Rico to Mexico and the US. The group features the vocal interpretations of Madelina Zayas (Puerto Rico) and Brandon Vance (US), and the richly layered and deeply rooted acoustic performance by Fernando Feña Torres (Chile), Denis Schmidt (France), Brandon Vance (US) and Craig Thomas (US).
Originally from Chile, Fernando "Feña" Torres is a musician, composer, poet, and journalist. He masters several Latin American folk string and wind musical instruments. He started to perform publicly at the zenith of what was later known as the Chilean New Song Movement. After being expelled from Chile by the military dictatorship in 1977, Mr. Torres came to the US as a political refugee. He was a founding member of one of the first South American music ensembles in the Bay Area, Grupo Raiz. Torres has composed music for theater and film and collaborated with many Bay Area and international musicians such as Pete Seeger and Holly Near.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Madeleine Zayas is a Latin American singer/interpreter and songwriter based in Oakland. She is the lead singer and artistic muse of the bands with whom she has been performing throughout the Bay Area since 2012. Her singing career began as a duo with Brandon Vance and as co-founder of Buena Trova Social Club. Dancing was her first love, which she began at an early age. She became a choreographer at age 10 and a professional dancer at age 15. She has performed in theaters and television in Puerto Rico, California and Nevada since 1985. She believes in art and cultural activism as a positive force of communication and a tool for social change.
Denis Schmidt, born in Paris, has been playing South American folk music since the 1970s. After studying this music in Perú, Bolivia, and Ecuador he came to the Bay Area and started playing with different groups such as Grupo Raíz, Pueblo Unido, Canta Tierra, and Madelina y los Carpinteros. Guitar, charango, zampoñas, and percussions are among the instruments Denis plays.
Music has long been a current in Brandon's life, though he couldn't seem to stick to one instrument or one style or one role. As his diverse musical interests evolved so did his desire to connect music with his values, and specifically socially activist music of the Nueva Trova movement, later co-founding the Oakland-based Buena Trova Social Club. Alongside of latin American music, his old love of hip hop resurfaced in a group he helped form called the Justice Arts Collective. Recently, Brandon was delighted to join Madelina y los Carpinteros, with whom he plays various instruments and sings harmonies. In addition to performance, Brandon also enjoys writing, arranging and producing songs.
Craig Thomas started playing guitar in the 60s. He's played folk songs in archetypical 60s smoke-filled coffee houses and 70s West Coast scenes. In the 80s and 90s he joined in debates on both sides of the question, "Is jazz a folkloric musical form?". In the 90s he started learning to play music from latitudes to the south, from the Caribbean to South America, including folkloric music, popular music, and latin jazz. A life long respect for songs of struggle has connected him with Madelina y los Carpinteros, with whom he plays string bass and Puerto Rican cuatro.