New CD Features the Sounds of the Bronx
Afroditee brings Sex to New York City
By Jon Minners
In the borough where Hip Hop was born, new musical ground is continuing to be broken. One Bronx label is attempting to bring Hip Hop, R&B and Dance together with a Latin flavor and is hoping a barrage of women performing Sex in New York City will help them reinvent the music people listen to.
Gotta Be Music is a new and well-respected record label in the arts having obtained grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and The Bronx Council on the Arts. The Van Cortlandt Village label received its acclaim when Gotta Be Music recorded the folkloric group Retumba for the non-profit organization One World Arts, Inc. From that recording came the newest all female 15-piece band known as Afroditee with their latest CD entitled Sex In New York City.
Afroditee is a whole new concept we came up with to get out of the folklore circle and crossover to the mainstream, said Richard Cabo, A&R Manager at the label. Many of the members of Afroditee are in the Retumba group, but are branching out as part of this new project we feel will be able to attract more youth to our sound. This is like nothing anyone has ever heard. We are combining Latin and Afro Caribbean music with Hip Hop, R&B and Dance to create a new sound that will appeal to mainstream audiences. Never in the history of the U.S. have the people heard something like this created by an all women band featuring some of the best musicians in the world.
Members of Afroditee, including Yvette Martinez, Robyn Lobe and Nancy Friedman of City Island and Dassi Rosenkrantz-Cabo, Richards wife from Van Cortlandt Village have performed and toured with a number of popular musicians. The list of talent they have worked with includes Tito Puente, Enrique Iglesias, Dizzy Gillespie, Moby, Maxwell, Willie Colon, Sarah McLachlan, Queen Latifah and the Mamas & Papas. Now, they are together, fronted by Rosenkrantz-Cabo, Nina Irizarry and Debbie Vidot, who handle the singing on their latest CD containing a combination of English and Spanish language songs. However, while fronting the band, Rosenkrantz-Cabo, who is also the musical director and bass player, states it is all about the musicians.
Afroditee is really about the band, she said. The song, Llego la Banda, features the band, giving every member a solo. It is not just about the singers. The singers are part of the band. Together, we are putting together a very professional piece of work that sounds great and gives people something to dance to. Afroditee has become a big part of my life for the last three years. Music is my life and we are pushing this group hard, putting our music out there, everywhere and hoping that everyone will love what we put out.
Cabo is very hopeful that Afroditee will land a distribution deal and achieve success for Gotta Be Music. Atlantic Records loved the project, he said. They wanted to get behind it if it had more English in it. Much of the music on the CD is in Spanish and right now, the market is bad. It is tricky for people to invest in new acts, but we are doing well. Because of the CD title, we almost landed a small scene in the show Sex in the City [the track Sex in New York City has been used for TBS ads hawking the syndicated run of the show]. So, we are being noticed. If we can make success of this on our own, there is no reason why people would not want to invest in us.
Right now, Afroditee is working on producing an all English R&B and Hip Hop recording. Gotta Be Music will also release Retumbas second CD and even plans to release solo projects for two Afroditee acts.
We are really getting our name out there, said Cabo. Gotta Be Music is about empowering young artists. That is the concept we started with and now we are branching out, marketing our CD at CD Baby, MP3.com, Amazon, CDNOW and in Japan and the UK. And the amazing thing is, all this great music, all this great talent; its being produced right here in The Bronx.
Cabo was born in Prospect Avenue and grew up on Allerton Avenue, before moving to Van Cortlandt Village, where he built a home for him and his wife that includes a full fledged music studio with three recording booths and state-of-the-art production tools. I am from the Bronx and I love The Bronx, he exclaims. For me, the whole world starts at Allerton Avenue. It is a very comfortable place. There is a lot of talent in The Bronx. In fact, I am searching through Bronx Community College for more talent, young talent that can sing for future projects. The Bronx is the place to be. When all is said and done, we are a Bronx business that is going to make it big. When you put your heart into something, you have to believe in it, push it and do the impossible.
For more information about Afroditee and Retumba, go to www.retumba.org.