.Love Your Local Band: Yaya’s Kitchen

Sarah Cruse recalls an earlier musical project that she worked on during a dark period of her life—the darkness, she says, was represented in the music itself. But you would never know Cruse had a dark side by watching her current band, Yaya’s Kitchen, which emanates joy and a passion for life.

Yaya’s Kitchen is a collaboration between her and guitarist Toby Salciccia, who she met at a Reiki class in 2013 and clicked with instantly. Together they meshed their styles into what they like to refer to as soulfolk “with a hint of hip-hop,” but really it’s less about the genre than the spirit of the music, which they see as something even deeper than happiness.

“There’s a frequency toward healing that is alive when we get together,” Cruse says. “There’s also human wisdom that we want to offer. It’s a real human experience. It’s not like we’re singing about roses. It’s a truth that is unconditional regardless of circumstance. It’s the essence of life that is beautiful. It can walk through anything.”

Before Yaya’s Kitchen was a band, they curated an open mic at Café Gratitude for a year and a half. This eventually led to the two of them writing original songs together. It took nearly two years for them to come up with the right name. They landed on Yaya’s Kitchen, because Yaya is Cruse’s nickname.

“Once we found the name, there was all this energy that just came pouring in,” Cruse says. “We just loved playing together.”

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Currently the group is working on their debut full-length album, which will be called Oh Mama. They are also expanding the band to find more players. “It’s a really homegrown, astral experience,” she says. 

INFO: 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.


  1. Hi Aaron,
    Great write up and love her music!
    Any idea how to get a hold of her for a booking ?

    Thank you

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