A friend of mine kept telling me: “Really? you don’t know Roberta?” I sheepishly had to admit that no, I didn’t. Our paths hadn’t crossed…yet. I did hear her once, purely by chance, when she went up to the stage and sang a song at a gig I was attending.
It wasn’t until Lockdown that I came across her again with her “Solidarietà” project: a song with 30 musicians from different nationalities, all based in Lanzarote, put together during Lockdown. Very impressive and very heart-felt. You can listen to it here:
Again, by coincidence, I bumped into her outside the Biosfera Shopping Center a few months later, as she was getting ready for an outdoor gig. I suggested to her to meet for a bit of a chat but she was leaving the island for a trip shortly so we put a pin on it.
Now that she is back in the island, we resumed the idea of interviewing her…
Where are you from originally, Roberta?
I’m from Torino in the North of Italy.
How long have you lived in Lanzarote?
It will be 7 years next March.
What brought you here in the first place?
I come from a scenography background (theatre and TV) and I came to visit a family friend who was already living in the island and who said he could get me a job.
I have worked in the island as a photographer and in the entertainment/ animation department of a hotel, etc. From there and thanks to musicians like Andrea Alberghi, Alex Jannsen and Zsolts Kovacs I started to play in hotels and different venues.
How did you get started in the music world?
Music runs in the family. My dad is a self-taught musician and an award-winning composer back in Italy. I sang with a Big Band called “Soul Nassau” back in Italy for 5 years. There were 14 people on it and I was the only girl. It was like having 13 brothers! We toured Italy and we went to the Porretta Soul Festival for 3 years.
This is a very prestigious international rhythm & blues and soul festival and it was an honour to be invited to take part in it.
At the moment like many other musicians, you are not gigging regularly which must be tough. Where have you sang before?
I have sung in many places, just to name a few: in some hotels in Playa Blanca; in La Palmera in Teguise; in The Crafty Cow and afterwards in Sassis Bistro with Intrinsic and Kentia Gourmet with Daniele Mad in Puerto del Carmen. I have also sung with the Lanzarote Big Bang in La Marina and the Gran Hotel in Arrecife, as a guest and even substituting Collie one. We are planning on singing together in Hankey Panky’s soon, too.
How would you describe your gigs and your music for someone who’s never heard you before?
My first love is jazz, soul, blues and R&B but of course, I also do different types of songs depending on what the audience wants to listen to, depending on where I’m playing, whether it’s a restaurant, a hotel or a wedding venue, for example.
Who is your idol and inspiration?
Without a doubt, my dad. He has a zest for live and he is always so curious about everything and anything. He is a dentist as profession but also is a skipper and an accomplished composer. Musically he is self-taught so maybe not extremely technical but he has great ideas and probably is freer to carry them out precisely for these.
So freedom & curiosity are the two words that come to mind when I think of him. He has done so much for everybody, I wanted to do a song dedicated to him to show my appreciation. It’s called “Voglio ringraziarti” which means “I want to thank you” – and it was co-written with Zsolt Kovacs. I wanted to incorporate the main 3 aspects of his live, medicine, the sea and music – that was challenging!
Well, I’ve listened to it, and you did a great job. Do you have any special projects coming up?
I would like to make a CD with contributions with musicians both from Italy and from Lanzarote. It will contain covers, to start with but I would also like to include some of my compositions. It would obviously include jazz and blues pieces but I would also like to include some electronic music by the hand of some DJ collaboration.
Getting back to Lanzarote, what do you like about the island?
Obviously, the weather and the fact that in 5 minutes I can be in front of the sea. I love the sea, it allows me to de-stress, gather my thoughts, relax..
And if you had to pick a favorite place in Lanzarote?
Los Hervideros and the black sand beach. I love spending time with my mother there, doing nothing but leisurely look for olivina stones. It’s like the world stops and nothing else exists. I feel like a princess sitting on top of a mountain of diamonds, there.
Tell us something your fans might not know yet about you…
I am a pizzica dancer. There are several types of pizzica dances, which is an Italian folk ritualistic dance . The one I do is the hypnotic type where traditionally women danced away the venom after being bitten by spiders that where common in where they lived.
I am also a painter, I took up painting again during the Lockdown. On the video of the song I wrote for my father (see above) you can see some of my work.
You are a very talented lady !
Finally, how can our readers keep up to date with your gigs & upcoming projects?
They can follow me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/roberta.marsella.9 and my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtNuezvjmxUThWNogIPhGDg
Thank you for your time Roberta, it’s been lovely chatting to you. And best of luck!
Note: This is Roberta’s PayPal for your contributions: https://www.paypal.me/robymarsy, if any of you feels so inclined and is in a position to do so.