For those of you who were old enough to frequent her almost-regular gigs at Conspiracy Bar and have “Comfort In Your Strangeness” as the anthem for your token kolehiyo heartache, news of Cynthia Alexander’s migration to the United States is, much like her music, both a sad and wonderful thing.
Reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Ani DiFranco’s spoken-word-like
lyricism, it’s easy to see why this songstress has been charming gig-goers and
critics for the last fifteen years. Listen up, here are a few reasons to hit
her Send Off Series gigs before
you’ll have to get on a plane to catch her live:
Badass Bass Player
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In 1989 she was hailed by the Yamaha Band Explosion as well as the Metropop Song Festival as Best Bassist for her work with big brother Joey Ayala and Hayp. More recently, the NU Rock Awards graced her with their 2004 Female Rock Icon crown. Not to mention that in the '90s she played well into her pregnancy with daughter Tala during her stint with pop-rocker Lou Bonnevie. Her lithe figure belies the brawn behind her bass lines, and she can more than hold her own against any male bass player. If that isn’t grrl power, I don’t know what is.
In addition to proving that a female act can go solo and succeed in a then male-dominated OPM scene, Cynthia Alexander has various other critical acclaims from the CCP, NCCA and Bagong Lumad Foundation (just to, you know, name a few) under her belt. With pieces touring Europe, her own album art is probably the least of her accomplished paintings (her second album Rippingyarns won Katha Music Awards’ Best Album Design in 2001). She’s also an ad hoc curator for Conspiracy Walls arts space on top of having scored music for various plays and films, producing her own albums, and collaborations with world music group Humanfolk, among others.
She Who Shines a Light
The woman’s got staying power, to say the least. In a career that’s spanned over a decade, Cynthia Alexander’s built her fanbase from the ground up without once compromising her artistic integrity or vision. This sweet little songbird has guitar riffs and melodies that make you wonder if she’s got an extra arm and can play instruments I can’t pronounce properly.
Sad as we are that her music’s no longer a car ride or commute away, we’re still looking forward to her shining a light on OPM on an international platform, on her own terms. If there’s anyone to hold a banner for folk music that transcends its own genre, Cynthia is it. So what are you waiting for? We’ll see you at the gigs!
Poster by JP Cuison
Photos from rosarioko.tumblr.com and myspace.com/cynthiaalexander