Palo Alto Daily News - May 8th, 2009
By Paul Freeman
Sablan- 'The Song Has A Life Of It's Own'
San Jose’s Kristina Sablan lifts the spirits of
not only all who hear her lovely music, but also
of her fellow singer-songwriters.
Sablan and husband Darren Anderson created
Firesign Entertainment, which books musicians
— blues, soul, rock and jazz, in addition
to acoustic singer-songwriters
— into many Bay Area locales,
including Santana Row, each
They will be at Redwood
City’s Little Fox for Thursday
evening’s Hit Songwriters in
the Round. Joining Sablan and
Anderson will be Steve Krause
and Travis Hogue. In addition
to original compositions, each
will perform a cover penned by a
songwriter who inspired them.
“We’ve always wanted to start doing a
showcase to promote talented songwriters who
need the spotlight on them. The Little Fox is such
a beautiful listening venue, where people come
in, sit down, be quiet and actually listen to the
performers on stage.
“It doesn’t have to be just loud rock bands or
things you can dance to. People who can actually
write songs that come from the heart deserve
more attention. Most clubs just want stuff to have
people dancing or background music. It’s sparse
for singer-songwriters, so we’re trying to get that
She and her husband are establishing the
Firesign recording company, having just released
Sablan’s own moving CD, “A
“I wanted it to have a spiritual
sense, reflective of something
beyond this everyday
world,” she said of the CD.
Getting a fledgling company
to blossom is a challenge.
“When you do it out of joy, out
of something you love to do, it
may be difficult, but you also
get great satisfaction from it.”
The satisfactions of art were imbued in Sablan
from birth. Born in Guam, she moved with
her family to Hollywood at 3, then back to her
mother’s hometown, San Jose, at age 8.
Her father was a musician/singer/songwriter
in Guam. Her grandmother, a classical pianist,
taught her piano. Sablan’s mother, a painter,
owns Bruni Gallery in Campbell.
Sablan, who sculpts, said of her mother Bruni,
“She’s been a big influence on me to pursue my
dream. She was always very encouraging, very
She knows how fortunate she is to have that
foundation. “A lot of friends had dreams of being
musicians or artists, but they didn’t have the
support of their families. Eventually, their parents
would say to them, ‘You’ve got to go into the real
world.’ And I see that these friends are marred by
it, very conflicted.”
As a child, Sablan’s mother took her to Paul
Masson Winery (now the Mountain Winery),
and toYoshi’s in Oakland, where she heard and
met such greats as Abbey Lincoln, Diane Schuur,
Carlos Santana and Miles Davis. From observing,
Sablan learned the finer points of music.
By 14, Sablan was experimenting with songwriting.
“In the beginning, I thought I had to go
by the book, by how they tell you to write a song.
I used to get frustrated by all the rules.”
After graduating from Cupertino High School,
Sablan (who now teaches singing) studied at San
Francisco’s John Ford School of Voice.
Sablan picked up the guitar in her mid-20s
and encountered innumerable performers at open
mics and cafes around the South Bay.
“They weren’t doing it for money, necessarily.
They’re doing it because they wrote a song,
worked on it, believed in it and wanted to share it
“The most important thing I learned was to be
free with what I did musically and not think of it in
commercial terms. Only then was the songwriting
rewarding. The song has a life of its own.”
Alife in music requires dedication. “You can
break through with your art, if you focus 100
percent on it. We all have to pay bills, but if you
commit to it fully, it can be what you want it to be.
“It doesn’t have to be just a dream. You don’t
just say, ‘Well, I’ll try it for five years and then
stop, if I don’t make it.’ That’s silly. Musicians
have to be very passionate people, very hardworking.
They go wherever the gig might take them.”
Sablan helps distinctive talents find gigs. “Every
song on the radio sounds like the same singer.
There used to be more interest in individuality.
“Someday maybe there will be a surge of
what there was in the ’60s and ’70s, when artists
were put into the spotlight because they were
unique and great and not just all the same. I hope
for that to come back.”
E-mail Paul Freeman at
Paul Freeman - Palo Alto Daily News (May 8, 2009)