B i o g r a p h y
History and life is so real, it is almost touch sensitive; the hot breath of her phrases and lines of pain are so shrill they pierce the heart like a million darts. Sanda's vocal gymnastics are as deep as the soul, and yet burn like tears streaming down cheeks, taut and afire with hurt... the profound emotions that become the heartstrings that Weigl plays with her subtle accents and in the myriad tones of the soul's stirring.
- All About Jazz Raul D'Gama Rose
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Sanda became a child star singing folk and Gypsy songs learned from street singers and from recordings of the legendary Maria Tanase.
Political persecution forced the family to move to East Berlin, where they reunited with her aunt, Helene Weigel, Bertolt Brecht's wife and director of the Berliner Ensemble.
Sanda was immersed in the Brecht-Weill tradition and Hans Eisler, later meeting Lotte Lenya and studying with Helene.
As a teenager, Sanda was a leading rock vocalist in East Berlin, but was arrested for protesting against the communist regime and sentenced to two years in prison. International outcry against the government's treatment led to her release. Sanda endured two years of hard labor on an assembly line and was barred from public performance. Nevertheless, she managed to get her Masters degree in Roman Languages from Humboldt University in Berlin.
Expelled to West Germany as an enemy of the State, another chapter began at the Schiller Theater in West Berlin, a hotbed of many of the world's important directors and performers. As assistant director on Robert Wilson's Civil Wars, Hamlet Machine, and Parsifal, theater work drew Sanda back to music. With the musicians from the Robert Wilson-Tom Waits musical The Black Rider, Sanda formed her band as she delved back into her Romanian folk Gypsy music for critically acclaimed concerts throughout Europe.
Encouraged by Robert Wilson, Sanda moved to New York. Composer Anthony Coleman became producer and arranger for her first US recording, Gypsy Killer, a tribute to her formative influence: the songs of the Bucharest streets. Coleman's unique perspective on Eastern European music, encompassing the rawest folksong to the most esoteric branches of the avant-garde, created a new sound-world for Sanda's voice and cherished material and, introduced her to the players who would become the nucleus of the magnificent ensemble on the album: Marc Ribot, Glen Velez, Doug Wieselman and Brad Jones.
Eventually, Sanda spent transformative time in Romania re-exploring the culture by delving deep into Transylvania. Traveling to unmapped towns and villages, Sanda sought out and found a treasure trove of new material refreshing the repertoire and spawning what would result in the critically acclaimed, Gypsy in a Tree, with a new ensemble the musicians, Shoko Nagai , Satoshi Takeishi and Stomu Takeishi.
Representing a profoundly original take on music drawn from a neglected source, Sanda's presentation of the new recordings, within the broader context of jazz, avant-garde, blues and world music, shows not only an extraordinary aesthetic achievement but a cultural one: the music suggests parallels to other neglected and downtrodden groups and cultures, bringing understanding and compassion.
The innovative and explosive Gypsy in a Tree concert debuted at the prestigious Ruhr Triennale Festival in Duisburg, Germany.
For over 20 years Sanda has presented her singular interpretations of the Folk and Roma songs of her childhood , the Brecht-Weill catalog, the Tom Waits & Leonard Cohen songbook, German medieval minnesinger repertoire, The German Weimar Cabaret songbook (and more) to critical acclaim throughout the United States, Mexico, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Austria, Israel, UK and her native Romania. She has performed at the Pina Bausch Festival, The Nobel Prize For Literature celebration, Monterey International Festival, The Ruhr Triennale, The JVC Jazz Festival in NY, The Ringling International Festival, The Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Germany and dozens of other festivals and venues around the world.
In March 2023, Sanda will embark on her newest recording: Kurt Weill's music radically re-imagined in a project that blends cabaret, 20th century classical avant-garde songs with jazz and downtown New York experimentalism. Accompaniment with and new arrangements by the jazz iconoclasts and Grammy nominated Mat Maneri on viola and Lucian Ban on piano.