Legendary female vocalist returns to music scene

August 2, 2010 7:37:59 PM PDT
One of the legendary voices from San Francisco music scene in the 60's is still tearing it up at Yoshi's in Oakland Tuesday night. Lydia Pense defined the blues, soul and jazz with the band Cold Blood and they have reformed.

Her sound is one that wraps around a word, a note, and tears your emotions. Pense has been a San Francisco rock institution for more than 40 years.

"We're still here and I thank the Lord I can still sing and people come to us," says Pense.

As a child Pense was a national roller skating champ. Then at age 10 her dad gave her a tape recorder.

"Every day after school I would spend hours, just messing around, and that's how I got into a lot," says Pense.

She was always singing along with records.

"Barbra Streisand, I used to mimic her doing those show tunes and stuff, jumping around," says Pense.

But when Pense heard rhythm and blues, she knew she had found her place and her soul.

There were groups before Cold Blood, but once they created that sound, they were hot. It was a time of powerful Bay Area female singers like Janis Joplin, Grace, and Pense.

There was a review in an old Los Angeles newspaper, many years ago, that said Jopin paled in comparison to Pense.

"I don't why I get compared with her. At the time all the female vocalists were coming up," says Pense. "I think she opened the door for a lot of female vocalists."

She took a break to raise her daughter, she is a grandma, and now she's back. However, Pense thinks she'll ever leave music.

"I just couldn't live without it because I've done that, I tried to, and I got antsy. I've never thought of anything without it," says Pense.


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