Latin music made a huge impact on a teenage Sally Ford when she was growing up in Geelong. It led her to become not only the lead vocalist, flute and saxophone player for the electro-cumbia, funky reggae and boogaloo band Dr Hernández, but the composer of the majority of the band’s Spanish songs.
Visit Dr Hernández’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/DrHernandezBand/
Read Sally's Performer Profile.
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Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020
Dr Hernandez - Week 19
Hello, I'm Bec Reid, and welcome to the Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined in 2020. We couldn't be more in the groove with one of the coolest musical hearts in the country. Sally Ford is here from Dr Hernandez. G'day, Sally.
Hi Bec, how you going?
Very well for seeing you, Sally. Can you share with us, Sally, your love of the musical genres that Dr Hernandez share with the world?
Look, it really started way, way back when I was 17 and I was studying Spanish at La Trobe University and I was just captivated by the language, the sound of the language and the music from Latin America.
And Sally, what is your particular love of the saxophone and being a lead vocalist and fusing those two?
That's a tricky question. I love playing in a horn section. With Dr Hernandez, we have two trombones as well as the saxophone but in the Melbourne SKA Orchestra, you know, there's 12 horns. So, I don't know, there's just something about the horn sound and I love singing in Spanish. It's the vowel sounds, it's the - the passion, the - it's just todo el corazón. El corazón is the heart and it's, you know, it's the heart. It's the centre. Mi corazón means my darling. It's a beautiful image. It's an image, particularly in Mexican iconography. It's coming from here. So, that's what the music is. You sing from here. You dance from here and you connect to here.
Todo el corazón. Sal, can you tell us about those feelings when you're singing in Spanish?
There's something about the rhythm of the cumbia that just makes you want to get up and dance and that's, in fact, what a lot of the songs I write are about and we started with Texicali Rose way back, and we've never stopped playing it because, as soon as you play a cumbia, the dance floor fills. Look, I think that with Dr Hernandez, we've sort of taken all those Latin rhythms that a lot of the musicians in the band have been familiar with and have played in the past and we've added, you know, electronica. It's slightly more challenging for us because I've been a senior for many years and there's a - one other senior in the band but the others, you know, they're not young and, so, the electronica has, you know, has its moments. It has its challenges.
And Sal, tell us about your experience of Countdown.
Well, I actually have several experiences of Countdown. My first one was when I went on with Cold Chisel and mimed Joe Camilleri's sax solo on My Baby, which made me an instant hit where - at the school that I was teaching. I got to go on with a band that I was more a part of called The Kevins and we had a song called Romeo Romeo that hit the charts in a, you know, kind of modest way.
You played with people like Paul Kelly and Joe Camilleri. What - what led you to really this passion for this fusion of world beats in Dr Hernandez?
I started playing, you know, in the punk days, you know, when anyone could play. I was quite a late starter. I didn't actually get a saxophone 'til I was in my late 20s.
Sally, what has been a real career highlight for yourself as a musician?
With the SKA Orchestra, we toured a lot. We had a - you know, in my late mid 60s, I started my international touring career, which was a lot of fun and we got to play at some amazing places like the Montreal Jazz Festival, you know, 50000 people.
And Sal, can you tell us the story of the song that you shared for the Victorian Seniors Festival?
It's called A Gran Silencio, The Great Silence, and it's a song that I started writing actually on the tour bus when we were on a tour and then when the offer of this gig came up, I sort of updated it and I made it slightly more topical and it's about corona because corona is a Spanish word. It actually means crown but I've taken the word corona and said corona, stay away. So, it's a kind of a - it's now a little bit of a sing along.
[Sally Ford singing A Gran Silenco]