LADAMA is an ensemble of women musicians from across the Americas who, as well as performing as a touring band, strive to engage youth in their respective communities in the process of music-making, dancing and composition through collaboration and performance workshops. They are Mafer Bandola (bandola llanera), Lara Klaus (percussion, drums), Daniela Serna (percussion)  and Sara Lucas (voice, guitar). Rounding out the ensemble is Pat Swoboda (bass) and together they combine the rhythms and traditional instrumentation of frevo and maracatu from Pernambuco, Brazil;  joropo songs from the high plains of Venezuela; cumbia, gaita and champeta from the Colombian coast and contemporary strains of American pop and jazz. Members of LADAMA specialize in, among other instruments, the bandola llanera from Venezuela, the tambor alegre from Colombia, and the pandeiro and zabumba from Northeast Brazil. Their performances include original compositions and traditional songs sung in Spanish, Portuguese and English combining disparate elements into a cohesive whole. The result is a sonic experience through which we can view our future as a world that communicates across continents and cultures, with sound and story.

The women of LADAMA met during OneBeat, a fellowship curated by Found Sound Nation and produced by the State Department’s Bureau for Cultural Affairs. ONEBeat brings musicians from around the world to focus on collaboration-based compositions and social engagement as ways to promote cultural diplomacy. In order to continue their work together, LADAMA formed as a way to reach youth and empower women through music making in South America. As activists, educators, producers and performers in their respective countries, their mission this year has been to create deeper roots within their own communities as a music ensemble while weaving a larger, global web. Their performances have been called "transformative" and "transporting",  and the audience is often asked to participate in their performances.

In the spring of 2015, LADAMA was awarded a $25,000 grant from The Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to complete a two-month tour through South America. They were the first arts-based project to receive this award for grass-roots organizing on a global scale. As a result they spent all of February and March of 2016 in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela giving workshops to youth in an improvisatory and collaborative-based setting. Additionally, they held free performances for the public and residencies in each country to develop original work as a music ensemble. They have worked in partnership with Paco do Frevo in Recife,  Brazil, Casa B in Bogotá, Colombia and Found Sound Nation in Brooklyn, New York.

They are also the recipients of a Creative Exchange Residency Award- granted through The Performing Americas in partnership with RED and the National Performer’s Network. As part of this Creative Exchange Residency they performed and conducted cultural music exchanges with local frevo and maracatu artists, music ensembles and schools for three weeks at Paco do Frevo in Recife, Brazil.

In May of 2016 LADAMA was an artist in residence at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There they worked with student dancers, writers and musicians in workshops at El Puente, creating collaborative, original work. This work was presented with the students, live at National Sawdust on May 20th, and was followed by a LADAMA performance. Additionally, The LADAMA Project is the recipient of a 2016 Brooklyn Arts Council grant for Local Arts Support and an Augustine Foundation Award to support their work at La Casita Comunal at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park. There they held workshops to create sound pieces with students in an after-school setting.

From January to March of 2017, LADAMA toured with Bombino, opened for TIGUE and taught workshops and gave performances at Dartmouth College, Brown University, Massasoit College, through Lincoln Center's Boro-Linc program and performed with the New School Chorus in Manhattan.  During this time LADAMA also self-produced their debut album at Machines With Magnets in Rhode Island, USA -- which is set for an international release in September of 2017 to be followed by a US tour in support of it.

Recent engagements include RecBeat Festival in Recife, Brazil, Teatro Juares in Barquisimeto, Venezuela and Museo Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia, Le Poisson Rouge and National Sawdust in New York.

Selected Press

…Another view of world citizenship was on joyous, colorful, defiant display at CRASHfest…LADAMA offered a joyous, musically deft mélange of sounds from around the Americas in the Foundation Room. Maria Fernanda Gonzalez’s lead lines on the bandola llanera weaved amid the dense grooves of percussionists Lara Klaus and Daniela Serna as Sara Lucas’s impassioned lead vocals floated above. Singing in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, the women dipped into folk styles from Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere.

-Boston Globe; "Spirit of inclusion pervades CRASHfest": January 30, 2017, link here.

Musical foursome LADAMA is…many things in one. It is a group comprised of women of many backgrounds…But LADAMA is doing much more than creating songs together, these women are initiating and facilitating global workshops that inspire others to create their own music…(with) each member…putting her own personality, personal history, and musical talents on display with the intent of nurturing others’.Attending a concert means being an actual part of the music-making. And not only that, their ideas about the ability music has to change and bridge communities is actually working. LADAMA itself follow the infinitely inward folding complexity of a song by creating music which teaches us about how to teach music. This allows us to learn ourselves and pass along this skill.

- Tom Tom Magazine Issue 27: Loud; Interview:  "Building Community Through Sound. LADAMA Brings Sounds of the Americas Together to Affect Social Change"; September 14, 2016, link here.

The quartet plays propulsive original music rooted in the folk traditions of their home countries, a kind of cross-continental musical exchange…The four members of LADAMA, it cannot be missed, are all women…while all four musicians share vocal duties in the band, their primary identities are as instrumentalists. Gonzalez is one of the foremost practitioners of the bandola llanera, a traditional Venezuelan instrument related to the mandolin. Serna is a percussionist capable of spellbinding solos on the tambor alegre, a Colombian hand drum. Klaus dazzles equally on the trap set and other drumable instruments, while Lucas is a guitarist of uncommon sensitivity known for her work with the Brooklyn art-pop duo Callers. When the four get together, the results are, at least figuratively speaking, electric.”

- The Artery, WBUR, Boston: "For Pan-American Band LADAMA, Empowering Other Women is the Ultimate Reward"; January 25, 2017, link here.

"Ladama, a Pan-Latin…supergroup of sorts…opened the evening with mix of upbeat folk-rock, a hint of tango and a couple of serpentine cumbias. The band’s not-so-secret weapon is Maria Fernanda Gonzalez, whose axe is the bandola llanera, which looks like a Mexican bajo sexto but sounds something like a baritone ukulele with more bite. Her fleet, flamencoish flurries on a handful of numbers made for some of the night’s most intense moments; otherwise, the band – including a couple of male ringers on accordion and bass, along with singer Sara Lucas, drummer Lara Klaus, conguera Daniela Serna and a violinist, kept a seamless bounce over beats from across South America, mirroring the band members’ diverse backgrounds.

- New York Music Daily, "Three Nights in a Row at Drom: An Embarrassment of Riches"; January 8, 2017, link here.

The group LADAMA, made up exclusively of women, took advantage of their Caribbean rhythms to transform the venue into a dance floor…

- Diario de Pernambuco; review of RecBeat, Recife, Brazil, February, 2016, link here.


LADAMA…transported the audience for more than an hour long show, on a journey through the most outstanding Latin American rhythms, highlighting the performance of Maria Fernanda Gonzalez, who with her bandola llanera, played the fast paced ‘Pajarillo’ and the Venezuelan joropo.

-Noticias Carora, Barquisimeto, VE; “The music of LADAMA fills the Teatro Juares”, March 2016, link here.


- LADAMA's "Pajarillo" video was named Tom Tom Magazine's "Video of the Week". May 6, 2016, link here.

Career highlights

The Alumni Exchange Innovation Fund (AEIF) grant - First arts-based project to win, 2015
Augustine Foundation Grant, 2015
Creative Exchange Residency Award, National Performer’s Network, 2015
Brooklyn Arts Council Grant for Local Support, 2016
Recbeat Festival, Recife, Brazil, February 2016
Teatro Juares, Barquisimeto, Venezuela 2016
National Sawdust Residency, Brooklyn, NY, May 2016

Tours of Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and United States- 2016, 2017

Past shows


Feb. 3 - Recife, Brazil @ Essa Fada
Feb. 7 - Recife, Brazil @ RecBeat Festival
Feb. 16 - Recife, Brazil @ Paco do Frevo
Feb. 19 - Recife, Brazil @ Paco do Frevo
Feb. 19 - Recife, Brazil @ Roda Cafe
Feb. 26 - Bogotá, Colombia @ Casa B (Cine-huerta) Cultural Center
Feb. 27 - Bogotá, Colombia @ Museo Nacional de Colombia
March 3 - Bogotá, Colombia @ Teatro El Parque
March 4 - Bogotá, Colombia @ Matik Matik w/La Perla
March 12 - Barquisimeto, Venezuela @ Plaza de Santa Rosa
March 13 - Barquisimeto, Venezuela @ Hotel Tiffany
March 16 - Barquisimeto, Venezuela @ Teatro Juares
March 17 - Barquisimeto, Venezuela @ Parroquia Claret
March 18 - Guanare, Venezuela @ Nuevo Hotel Coromoto
March 20 - Guanare, Venezuela @ Nuevo Hotel Coromoto
March 23 - Tucupido, Venezuela @ Plaza de Tucupido
May 9 - Brooklyn, NY @ Barbés
May 11 - Brooklyn, NY @ Manhattan Inn w/ special guests Sandunes and Alex Asher
May 13 - New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge w/ Tigue, Kiran Gandhi, Tom Tom Magazine
May 14 - Brooklyn, NY @ Trinity Lutheran Church at Sunset Park  
May 20 - Brooklyn, NY @ National Sawdust  
May 21 - New York, NY @ United Palace Theatre with American Youth Orchestra

Short Bios

700 characters:

LADAMA is an ensemble of women musicians from across the Americas who, as well as performing as a touring band, strive to engage youth in their respective communities in the process of music-making, composition and audio production through collaboration and performance workshops. They are Mafer Bandola (Venezuela), Lara Klaus (Brazil), Daniela Serna (Colombia) and Sara Lucas (U.S.). With rhythm and percussion driving their original compositions sung in Spanish, Portuguese and English they combine disparate, traditional roots music with pop. The result is a sonic experience through which we can view our future as a world that communicates across continents and cultures, with sound and story.

150 characters:

LADAMA is an ensemble of women from across the Americas who produce and perform original work while engaging youth in the act of music-making.