ListN Up: Sara Serpa (July 16, 2021)

ListN Up is a weekly series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Lisbon, Portugal native Sara Serpa is a vocalist-composer and improviser who implements a unique instrumental approach to her vocal style. Recognized for her distinctive wordless singing, Serpa has been immersed in the field of jazz, improvised and experimental music since first arriving in New York in 2008.

Hi, my name is Sara Serpa, and I’m a vocalist-composer. I am sending you this playlist from Portugal where I am currently traveling. This playlist highlights some music I came across recently and two classics that I often return to. It’s music that sometimes makes me feel light, sometimes makes me feel melancholy, but always inspires me. I hope you enjoy it — thank you!

Sofrimento” by Waldemar Bastos

An amazing Angolan singer, composer, and guitarist who passed away recently. I love his voice and his direct lyrics about his home country’s suffering.

“Matacedo” by Aline Frazão feat. Paulo Flores

Aline Frazão is a brilliant Angolan singer-songwriter, producer, writer, and artist, and recently composed the soundtrack for the film “Ar Condicionado” (2020). This song and the lyrics were written by her and feature an iconic voice from Angola, Paulo Flores.

“Epidemias Coloniais” by Kalaf + Type

Kalaf Epalanga is an Angolan musician, writer, poet, and spoken word artist, known for collaborating with hip hop and dance music projects, such as Buraka Som Sistema, Cool Train Crew, and 1-Uik Project. This track is mysterious and hypnotic. I love his voice.

“Raquel” by Bau

An incredible Cabo Verde musician from Mindelo who plays guitar, cavaquinho, and violin. I heard this track in an Almodovar film in 2002, and after that, I’ve listened to it so many times. His album Top d Croa could be on loop forever.

“The Homeless Wanderer” by Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guébrou

Pianist David Virelles told me about this Ethiopian 93-year-old nun who plays piano solo beautifully. This is a great song to listen to after a long trip.

“Left Alone” by Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake

Ran is my teacher, mentor, and dear friend. His groundbreaking work with the incredible Jeanne Lee will be forever remembered. I love this Mal Waldron song, Ran’s comping, and Jeanne’s delivery, always so close to my heart.

“May Later” by Blake Mills

Blake Mills is an American songwriter, guitarist, producer, and composer based in California. This is from his solo album Mutable Set. I love the dreamlike mood of this song — reminds me of summer and car trips.

Unknown Person” (from Bagagge Allowance) by Pamela Z

Pamela Z is a composer/performer and media artist making works for voice, electronic processing, samples, gesture activated MIDI controllers, and video. I am constantly mesmerized and intrigued by her work. This is from her most recent release, A Secret Code.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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