Working your way up in the music industry is a challenge for all artists. No matter how big the name is now, they all had to start somewhere. At first, most musicians keep their day jobs while spending their free time in bedrooms, garages and studios, bringing their music to life.
Yael Santé, an American singer and songwriter with Panamanian heritage, almost gave up on her calling. Instead of fighting for her dream spot at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, she signed up for a Sociology degree. One day, she experienced something that she describes almost as if God was talking to her and telling her to find the courage to do what she's intended to do. Music.
The same day, she decided to drop out of college. She made a promise to do her best to get into Berklee on the first try. And, after a year of hard work, she did exactly that.
Cooking to the rhythm of salsa
Yael's family left Panama to start a new life in Denver, Colorado. "My grandma and her husband opened up a funeral home called Angel's Chapel. It's a pretty big business now," Yael shares. "My grandfather, who stayed in Panama, owned a very successful restaurant. They threw a festival to honour his life after he died. There’s so much history, so much legacy!"
While growing up, Yael felt a bit different from other kids. "My mum learned English, but she still has an accent. She was hesitant to speak Spanish to me, probably afraid I'll have issues with English. It ended up in quite a mix - nowadays, my grandma speaks in Spanish, and we respond in English."
Yael's heritage has played a significant role in her sound. Throughout her childhood, she watched her grandma dance to salsa playing in the background while cooking favourite family recipes. "I want to make a record that people could dance to," Yael smiles as she reminisces.
Showing support even when unsure
“My family has always supported me to pursue a creative career, but they were honest with me, telling me to be ready to put in the work to succeed.” Yael was determined and stuck to her promise of working hard not just on her music but hustling with a part-time job to pay bills while she prepared for her Berklee audition.
Inspired by melodies she heard while growing up, whether hip-hop, jazz or soul, Yael's aim was never to make music just to become famous. Instead, her intention is to create music that evokes emotions. "My ultimate goal is to help people to release their feelings, whether it's anger, love, joy or sadness," she shares.
Know how to plant good seeds
Yael draws on her heritage and musical upbringing for her sound, and her own experiences and emotions when it comes to songwriting. Her music is all about her personal experience and she embraces the way it can take her back to past moments and memories. She explains, “My first album, Romance EP, was about my very first intense heartbreak. My heart was going through so much turmoil, but once I released my music, I felt so free.”
After her deeply personal debut EP, Yael is now pushing her creative expression even further. Her new single, Bloom, is a story about how she was raised to be careful about the things she does, who she spends time with and what type of energy she invites in her life.
"Our life is like our garden. We have to plant the right seeds and water them carefully. When you have a purpose in life, you have to protect it by all means. Take care of yourself before carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. That's what Bloom is about," expands Yael.