Maui-based Tanama Colibri is a singer, songwriter, author and poet, and has dedicated her life to music since its beginning. She has an ardent belief that music can arouse change. In her own words, “I want to sing the dreams of change.”
A plethora of genres inspire her unique style, from jazz and soul, to hip hop and Latin American folklore. Reflecting on her musical influences, Tanama has distinct memories of her childhood in New York, gathering with family in their Washington Heights basement apartment. Melodies of Salsa, Bachata and Merengue were the soundtrack for weekend get-togethers, and hours whiled away with fierce dance competitions. Ever a showman, she has been putting on recitals for her family since these early days. Further contributing to her love of music, her mother would religiously leave the radio on at night, so that even in sleep, Tanama was absorbing the sounds that would shape her career.
Being a member of the choir and Motown were early influences, but it was tragedy that truly inspired her nascent songwriting, when her father was murdered when she was only 10 years old. From that point, lyrics were inspired by social activism towards HIV awareness and injustice that she saw in her daily life.
By the age of 23, she made a decision that would change her life: no matter where she lived, she would sing. No matter who was watching, she would sing. She would sing to anyone and everyone who would listen. She began this journey with her natural passion and enthusiasm along with her duet Duo Cascabeles: a three-year trip with from Mexico to Argentina, where she studied and sang from country to country. During these impactful years, she learned the life of a traveling independent musician, and influences from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina continued to inspire her work, along with time spent in St. Thomas, Paris and Germany.
Since that time, she has moved to Maui, written a book, and has a new album in production. She has also received acclaim, with songs featured in a film that was nominated at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. She continues on her journey, inspiring those who listen, and singing the dreams of change.
Poetry by Tanama Colibrí available for purchase via PayPal.