If you live on the island of Curaçao and you’ve never heard the name Izaline Calister then slap yourself right now. The international sensation was born on the 9th of March, 1969 in Curaçao. During her childhood she sang in the choir group ‘Perlitas’, which was formed by local legend Rudy Plaate.
She often participated in their annual Christmas shows. When she turned eighteen she moved to Holland to study in Groningen. Her father always supported her singing but thought it was really important for her to have a degree to fall back on.
However, she did not want to continue working in the field she graduated in after graduation and this lead her to the decision to sign up at a conservatory. At the auditions for admission, the teacher fell ill and the school director presided over the auditions in his place. The director told Calister that she did not have enough vocal range. This notwithstanding, he saw that there was something special about her and thus she got accepted anyway.
While studying at the conservatory, Calister noticed she did not use her voice correctly and she did not have sufficient knowledge about music theory. But after five years of hard work she graduated at the conservatory. She financed her study with the money she earned performing with the band Pili Pili, owned by Jasper van ‘t Hof.
After completing her study Calister returned to her native island where she participated in the Fesitival di Tumba of 2001 with the wildly popular Tumba piece ‘Much’i Otrobanda’ written by Gibi Doran. After the great reaction it received from the audience during the preliminary rounds, she advanced to the finale where she triumphed and was crowned the ‘Reina di Tumba’ (Queen of Tumba) of 2001.
After this she embarked on a jet-setting international career. Her first albums, ‘Soño di un muhé’ and ‘Mariposa’, were a mixture of jazz and traditional Curaçaoan musical stylings like seú and tambú. After producing those two albums, she thought it would be nice to try something different.
So from 2004 to 2006 she released the titles ‘Kriyoyo’ and ‘Kanta Hélele’, both of which fused together a diverse range of music genres from around the world. Rounding out her list of albums are the titles ‘Speransa’, ‘Di Fiesta’, and ‘Kandela’, all three released between 2009 and 2012.
Her more recent albums were highly influenced by the sounds of the different countries she visited during her travels, such as Mali, but also by the Latin American rhythms her father often played to her during her childhood.
The year 2009 was a wonderful year in Calister’s career as this was the year in which she received the prestigious Edison award in the category ‘World Music’.
In that year she also received an invitation to give a much praised performance at the United Nations in New York at an international event honoring the victims of slavery.
Another big achievement in her career is her composition of the musical of Buchi Fil and Mosa Nena, which is the love story of two slaves written by one of Curaçao’s literary giants Pierre Lauffer. The musical was performed several times together with Jörgen Rayman in 2013, the year in which many events took place to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Dutch Kingdom.
Izaline Calister is the successful leader of a band she formed with professional musicians. Together they perform in different parts of the world and they enjoy spending time together. According to Calister, it is the most beautiful band she could ever have wished for.