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Claudia Gómez

I was born in Medellìn, Colombia, and I’m descendent of a musical family (my

mother, Angela recorded 7 LP’s of boleros, all my brothers are musicians and my

grandfather, Enrique was the co-founder of the first Jazz Band in Medellìn in 1935). I

began playing guitar at age 12, and at 18, was traveling Colombia, with an all-female

Quartet “Ellas”. But my professional life really began in London, where, with my

oldest brother Luciano, we began to search for a way to make a living through music.

I must admit that it was my brother’s skills and convincing talent that made us – two

Colombians-, sing in English in England! Our repertoire was made up of songs from

The Beatles, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and many others. In London I

had also fallen in love with flamenco and met Joaquin Sabina, a Spanish singer

songwriter who shared many music nights with me singing at Costa del Sol. It was a

truly beautiful experience.

I returned to Colombia in 1976 and soon started to discover my Latin musical

background. Those were the days of world cultural revolution, but in Colombia things

were still very conventional, and a girl singing at night in bars and clubs was not well

seen. I moved to Bogotá where I found some people who, like me, where willing to

risk society finger pointing, and we made our own family of musicians. I sang in

English and in Portuguese. I felt I wasn’t ready to sing in Spanish yet. I needed to find

my own sound, my own vocal style. Playing Brazilian and Cuban music made me

think of my own roots. If Colombia had the same cultural mix as Brazil or Cuba, why

did our music feel obsolete, and theirs felt fresh and evolved?

Then I started to travel to small and forgotten places, looking for the roots of

Colombian folk music (and for my own), and found great people who gave me that

Colombian identity I had been looking for. However, that music needed a little

shaking, a little blend from somewhere. I wasn’t prepared to do it just yet, and I knew

I had to look for it somewhere else, away from home. My inner soul was looking for a

change.

In 1983, invited by my brother Luciano, I visited the San Francisco Bay Area and

experienced the music scene there. I knew immediately that this was my place. I

found a vibrant, professional, and creative – day and night music life – that opened up

horizons in my mind, and musically awakened me. I lived in the bay area from 1983

till 1998 (15 years). I played with the best jazz musicians there. I also mingled with

outstanding Brazilian musicians, learning all the subtleties, beauty, evolution and

creativity of Brazilian music. It was a fountain of harmony for my guitar playing, a

guide for my vocal development and a marvelous experience in band leading.

In 1989 I documented this Brazilian phase of my life in a recording called Claudia

Canta Brasil. That recording opened the doors to pursue my own sound. I went back

to my Colombian roots and started writing music that contained Colombian rhythmic

elements, covered with jazzy Brazilian harmonies; I entwined melodic patterns from

both cultures. The result was documented in my 3rd album Tierradentro, published

by Green Linnet Records (recorded in 1992 but released in 1996).

In 1992 I recorded Salamandra with Clarity Recordings. Tierradentro and

Salamandra albums gave me stability as a musician in the privileged San Francisco

Bay Area. In the bay area I truly became a musician, helped by all the generosity and

support of friends, musicians. I also finished my school degree, a Bachelor of Arts in

Music, with an emphasis in World Music, and had the privilege of studying with

African master drummers, Indian vocal teachers, as well as experiencing a year of

teaching Afro-Colombian songs at the same university.

I kept well connected to Colombia, my homeland, through periodic trips to inlands

and the coast, where I continued the search for my music ancestors. During 1994 I

spent the whole year in Colombia, traveling, performing, showing my music and

developing a repertoire of original arrangements and compositions based in

Colombian traditional music, with a modern approach to it. I performed that

repertoire for the next 9 years.

In 1998 I was ready to move on away from the bay area and ready to look for new

horizons again, and decided to go to Spain. I landed in Madrid in July 1998. If I had

been an exotic musician in California, in Spain I was totally unknown, something that

I enjoyed for a while because it allowed me to reflect on my life and over my

commitment to music. I loved Madrid’s intense nightlife, I loved starting all over

again (well…. almost!), and it brought back memories of my early music life struggle.

Spain has a way of bringing everyone down to earth, there’s little time to be an

arrogant artist; everyone is in the same pot. I met wonderful and outstanding

musicians: Jerry Gonzalez (Fort Apache), Pavel Urkiza, Gladston Galliza, Caramelo,

the San Martin brothers, Rosalia, all of them marvelous friends and artists with whom

I shared the stage many times and who I keep in my heart. There I recorded my

bolero-jazz album Vivir Cantando. Even though there’s a definite melancholy

feeling in it, it is still one of my best-recorded albums.

I traveled, at my delight, throughout Europe and played the most important places in

Madrid and Spain but soon I needed to touch base with my own roots again. I came

back to Colombia in September 2002.

I have been fortunate enough in life to have always done just what I wanted. I’ve

moved through places and people in life with the certainty that they will always be in

my heart and in my mind, but also, with the certainty that I can move away whenever

my music or my life needs it. I now live between Bogotá and my hometown,

Medellìn. In two years I’ve built a house, made a new album MAJAGUA, worked

with the government in the development of music projects for needed people in all

regions of Colombia; I have taught guitar, offered vocal workshops, and take care of

my mother, and I’m very happy doing all that. MAJAGUA has been my highest

accomplishment so far, because it was made up of a mature repertoire that was

weaved day by day, note by note, with the help and inspiration of all musicians from

all over the world and it was a gift I gave to Colombia and its musicians. They

received it so well that it made me feel at home again. And here I am. I work with

very young and also very old people, helping them direct their careers with the

confidence and certainty that, choosing music, , like me, they have chosen the right

path. I’m very happy that I’m getting to see with my own eyes the evolution I always

envisioned for Colombian music. I’m just thankful I have had the privilege to travel,

to share this life experience with so many different people and cultures. I’m a happy

woman.