Unless you've already been lucky enough to hear, the first thing you probably don't know about Estaire Godinez is that she is - by no stretch of the imagination - an international sensation. A smoldering vocalist and an ace percussionist, this Oakland, California born Mexican American has records on more than twenty albums, and has been consistently sought after for her essential performance skills by a number of world-renowned artists. From stints with Prince to Pete Escovedo to the Brothers Johnson, she has proven herself a stylistic chameleon capable of wearing dozens of musical hats.
Most recently on tour with jazz guitarist extraordinaire, George Benson, her newest CD- "Live from Dakota" finds Godinez taking time to slip out of the hats and into bandleaders gloves, and she indeed shines as a stunning Latin chanteuse. Her candor and charisma dominate the proceedings-there are uproarious catcalls, sly across the stage banter, and moments of brilliant percussive improvisation. Just as often, however Godinez is happy to focus the musical spotlight on her band, which consists of Peter Schimke (piano/keyboards), Eric Leeds (sax), Mike Scott (guitar), Stokely Williams (drums), and Serge Akou (bass). Mutually appreciative of her talents, their instruments weave effortlessly in and around her conga beats, creating a hypnotic fusion of jazz pop, and Brazilian/Afro-Cuban. They all play with seductive ease, exchanging musical flirtations with airtight execution.
Whether swing or Samba, backbeats or Bossa Nova, Godinez has always been fascinated by the push and pull of different rhythmic styles. Mirroring her musical diversity, she is multi-lingual (Spanish, Portuguese, English) and has lived and performed through the world. By her late teens she'd left her native California and signed on as both singer and manager for a salsa band in Amsterdam. Soon they were sharing the stage with acts like Peter Tosh and Bow-Wow-Wow at the infamous Paradiso. From there it was off to Spain where she was involved in a number of projects: backing Duncan Du and pop star Joaquin Sabina, sitting in with house bands for popular TV shows and fronting Madrid-based all original pop-rock mainstays, Estaire Godinez and the Face Band to name a few. She has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival and at London's International Rock Awards, and has toured extensively throughout Europe and South America.
Her debut release from Under the Radar Music Group, "Live at the Dakota" shows clearly that Godinez is most in her element as a singer and bandleader. Yet she's also well aware that what she can learn from both peers and leading luminaries alike is precisely what fuels her own creativity as a front woman. In addition to her invaluable experience in what she calls, "the school of travel," Godinez spent the late 90's keeping esteemed academic company in workshops at Boston's Berklee School of Music, and has also trained privately with the celebrated Congero Giovanni Hildalgo.
Growing up in a musical family (she still plays frequently in Hawaii with brothers Carlos and Salvador, both prominent musicians in their own right), Estaire has always been a natural at absorbing and expanding upon the wealth of influences that surround her. "Playing with George [Benson] and other people is what feeds my solo music-other musicians are what inspire me most," says Godinez. Unquestionably, the passion with which she embraces her craft is suggestive of her wide-eyed approach to the world in general. It is an uncommon gift that enables her to invite audiences into the creative fold with awe and delight.