Cynthia Brando-Not Your Usual Singer

Entertainment — By on February 15, 2015 at 4:25 am

Cover and Inside Photos- Cynthia Brando. Her latest project, "Across The Water," is available on CD Baby. Photos by Cynthia Brando.

By Buddy Sampson

Cynthia Brando is one of the most fascinating and amazing singers you’ll ever experience. To see her perform is simply captivating. Her music signals the complexity of life’s experiences. When she sings, she bares her soul; in her performances, she is literally naked in front of you with the raw power of her voice, music and emotion. “It’s easier if it’s not about you and you’re just sort of acting a part, but when it’s really about you, you have to embody it, very much the way a professional actor would embody a role, but it’s different when it is you.”

Cynthia is a bit of an anomaly in today’s pop world. Her voice is reminiscent of the singers of the 40’s and 50’s, with a vibrato that’s rarely heard in today’s music scene. “I was born with a vibrato,” said Cynthia. “I listened to a lot of the old jazz music coming up and a lot of the singers had really strong vibrato, so it’s probably a mixture of having been born with it, and practicing to certain people that had strong vibratos. I always sing that way.” She is not your usual singer, and many that hear her music note the unique sound of her voice and music. “One of the things that I hear a lot about my voice and my music is that I’m equally old-fashioned and very modern,” she explained. “I think I have an old-fashioned vibe to me as a person.”

There are several singers that influence her music and artistry. Some of them include Gordon Lightfoot, Patsy Kline, Joni Mitchell, Amy Winehouse, Paul Butterfield and Chicago Blues player Magic Sam.  “Chicago Blues was a big influence on me; blues was a big influence early on. I mix a lot of folk and blues chords for my songs to this day,” she said.

The lovely singer, born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, moved to Northern California at the age of 14 and lived in small towns, including Weaverville, a small town in California with a population of a mere 3,600 people. “Weaverville is where I discovered folk music and early blues,” she said. However, Cynthia was not your usual child growing up. “I was a weird kid growing up,” she admits. “During that time, Brad Pitt was the thing and instead of having a poster of Brad Pitt, I had a poster of Sam Cooke on my wall.”

She learned how to play guitar, but wasn’t inspired until she heard a performer, Don Hall. “I lived on a resort, a mountain resort with cabins, very rustic, but they had a main lodge where there was a restaurant that had a bar that featured live entertainment,” she said of Hall.  “I would see him perform and that was pretty much the first time I ever was face to face with a live performer. I had never been to a concert before. I would go to see him perform all the time and became almost like a stalker.”  After weeks of being apprehensive to talk with Hall about her aspirations, she finally got up the nerve to speak to him. “I told him I just picked up a guitar and I really wanted to learn a song,” she said. She and Hall decided she would learn “House of the Rising Sun,” an old folk song dated as far back as 1934, first made popular by The Animals in 1964. She practiced for weeks and caught him one day and played it for him. “He told me he was really impressed. That was it for me.”

She later moved to Humboldt and discovered that the music in that community had a flavor that was all its own. “The music that was really popular there was Old Time, and I had never heard of Old Time. Old Time is older than country, it’s a lot of Appalachian music and old swing and ragtime and that was definitely a Humboldt County thing and it still is. That music seeped in my music, which I call Americana music.” Cynthia became a fixture in the café circuit, performing in coffeehouses, wine houses and hotels. And she lived in Mendocino, an ocean town with a lively music scene. But along the way, life’s difficulties took its toll; she lost her way and took an extended break from music-for over 10 years.  “I had a hard time in my life and I was under a lot of stress and I got depressed and it started to affect my music and then, once my music was affected and I had some bad shows, I lost my confidence and I experimented with lots of drugs, and just lost who I was as a person,” she reflected.” I was on my own, trying to take care of myself. I had a hard life.” She had a very severe case of stage fright and left the stage. Later, she began the process of rebuilding her life and went to school, earning a BA degree in Cultural Studies. But she missed music and realized she had to return to it. She worked on her chops for three years, working on rhythm and singing and began to perform again in small cafes.

Cynthia Brando at the House of Blues. Photo by Michael Danzig.

Her confidence renewed, she moved to Los Angeles. “Los Angeles seemed like a big, scary thing in my mind,” she said. ”I didn’t really know what to expect. I was nervous and I had really bad stage fright that I had to work through.” Fortunately, several people began to recognize her talent, and one of her first engagements was at the House of Blues. “It’s gotten a lot better and I feel a lot more comfortable performing now, “she explained.

Cynthia, who earned a BA in Cultural Studies, also works with students that have developmental disabilities. It’s a challenging line of work. “I love the developmental population,” she said. “I fit in quite well with them, actually. Being around them, I now know every popular song on the radio.” Lately, she’s working with an entrepreneur, Bree Noble, on “Women of Substance Radio.” She placed one of her songs on that project, “To The Bone,” and her songs are featured in Noble’s podcasts. “Working with her is good for me and I’m sure she can be helpful to women artists as well,” she said of working with Bree Noble. Visit Bree Noble’s website at Additionally, she will be performing with Nette Radio on February 27th 2015 at MUSE on 8th.  She recently produced a music video that will be released soon, “Across The Water.” Download it here:

Cynthia Brando’s life experience is presented in all of her performances. Her performances reflect naked and raw emotion.  Her captivating, but engaging energy and spirit will have you completely entranced. “I’m the vehicle that’s sharing the message and it has to come out in a certain way and that’s important,” said Cynthia Brando. “I don’t want to just do a performance of my own songs, I want to share the emotion behind it and how I was feeling.”  Clearly, Cynthia Brando is not your usual singer. Prepare to be electrified by her music, beauty and presence.  For more on this amazing artist and information on her next performances, visit

Comments are closed.