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About Kabiosile

Kabiosile History

The Label

Kabiosile is an independent film and record company dedicated to preserving and sharing music from the various Afro Cuban traditions found in Matanzas, Cuba.

The Kabiosile name is an Afro Cuban/Lucumi pronunciation and spelling of the Yoruba word “kabiyesi,” which means “Hail your majesty.” Kabiosile! Or Kawo kabiosile! is a salutation of respect for Chango, the warrior Orisha of thunder and lightening and the owner of all drums.

The label was started by Tina Gallagher in 2003. She was so moved by the power of the music she encountered in Matanzas that she wanted to share it with others.

Within Cuba, they call Matanzas “la fuente,” meaning the fountain or source because all the Afro Cuban traditions are so strong there: Santeria/Lucumi, Palo, Arara, Abakua.

Tina had unique access to elder Alfredo Calvo, ibae, and Master Drummer Daniel Alfonso, ibae, during the 10 years she lived in Matanzas. They were the force and inspiration behind Kabiosile, and their legacies live on through the CD and DVDs they inspired.

While in Cuba, Tina was assisted by Alberto Calvo, a highly respected Santero, Palero, Abakua, master drummer and akpwon. She has also benefited from the experience and excellent advice of Michael Spiro, Santero, master drummer, akpwon, and recording artist.

Tina is a Santera and is consecrated to Obatala. She was initiated in Oakland, California in 1996 in the ile of Peter de Jesus, and received her knife (pinaldo or cuchillo) in Matanzas in 1997. She returned to Matanzas in 2000 to marry Alberto Calvo and lived there until 2010.

“I think the music is one of the most beautiful aspects of the religion, both powerful and uplifting. The opportunity to share some of that beauty with the rest of the world has been a great blessing for me.”

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"Santeria y Bembe" by Salvador Gonzalez Escalona. Photos courtesy of Kenneth Schweitzer.