A Honolulu native, Sandy Tsukiyama grew up in a musical household. She discovered Spanish language and Music Theory at her alma mater, Roosevelt High School and received a BA in Ethnomusicology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. At UH she continued in Spanish and began studying Brazilian Portuguese. Fascinated by bossa novas on radio jazz programs, she embarked on a quest to further investigate the music of Brazil. Her first vocal gigs were with Brazilian-inspired group, “Ohta-San’s New Thing” and the Ebbtides, in 1975. She began studying voice with Marilyn Kim and was backup singer and percussionist for Nohelani Cypriano. In 1980, recipient of a Rotary Post-Graduate Fellowship for International Understanding, she studied Brazilian folk music traditions and voice at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro Escola de Música. During her three-year stay there, she became immersed in the vibrant musical culture of the city. Fortunate to perform backup for Marku Ribas and Robertinho do Recife, along with numerous, well-known artists, Sandy appeared at various venues from posh piano bars such as Chiko’s Bar, Rive Gauche, and national TV broadcasts on Rede Globo. She was house vocalist for two years in the piano bar at Restaurante Antonino in the Lagoa District, where Lisa Ono, who later became Japan’s primary bossa nova exponent, would occasionally sit in. At the “Todos os Cantos” music festival, in Curitiba, Paraná, in 1981, she was accompanied by the yet unknown, Eliane Elias. While married to percussionist Carlinhos “Pandeiro de Ouro” de Oliveira, she befriended countless household names on the Brazilian music scene.
Since returning home in 1983, Sandy has maintained her passion for Latin American musical culture through singing in flamenco, salsa, mariachi, brazilian & latin jazz groups. Community work includes teaching, interpretation and translation of Spanish & Portuguese languages. Other performances include singing for salsa great, Adalberto Santiago, Puerto Rican cuatro legend, Yomo Toro; Martin Nievera with the Honolulu Symphony Pops, as part of The Company Singers in three consecutive productions of, “A Merry Christmas With Friends and Nabors”; and “Beehive” at Manoa Valley Theatre. Since 2002, Sandy has been a regular backup singer for Yvonne Elliman. She teaches Spanish at Roosevelt High School, raises many animals and occasionally gives presentations on the Portuguese language influence on Pidgin English.
Hosting “The Brazilian Experience” has become a bright and joyous spot in Sandy’s incredibly full schedule. It is a vehicle through which she is able to tap into her ethnomusicology background, while sharing her own Brazilian experience with the community and beyond. In the one-hour program, she enjoys hosting guests from the local Brazilian community and other musically oriented friends who bring their favorite selections to the program. It is also exciting to receive new releases and to report on current events coming out of Brazil. In the meantime, Sandy is happily exploring the great variety of resources in the HPR music library, to please the listeners with an amazing range of musical flavors, from the cherished to the new. She is grateful to HPR staff for all their support and assistance in bringing this program to you, our listeners.