Extended Bio

Michel Rivero

Michel Rivero is a gifted songwriter, teacher, choir director, choral arranger, and a talented instrumentalist. Michel's  rich vocal tone, which resonates with any audience, can effortlessly transition from deep warm tones to sweet tenor notes.

Michel’s musical collaborations traverse an eclectic array of international artists. As an instrumentalist he has worked with singers such as Cuba’s Farah Maria, Chinese recording artist Pu Jie, the rap group, Primera Base, the legendary traditional group, Mapeyé, and the National Criollo Orchestra of Puerto Rico. As a vocalist and vocal percussionist, Michel has shared his talents with Novel Voz, a Cuban a cappella group, and the Vocal Leo Choir, known for interpreting classic Cuban songs. His arrangements have been performed by many ensembles of small and large choral groups in Canada and in Cuba.

Michel Rivero Mordoch was born in Güines, in the province of Mayabeque, Cuba. Here he was immersed in the poly-rhythmic, Afro-Latin sounds for which Cuba is renowned. At the age of nine, while his North-American counterparts were playing video games, Michel joined a traditional music ensemble, Los Soneritos, directed by Nuria and Yamile Garcia. The Garcias inspired him to take up the traditional rhythm instruments. This marked the beginning of his musical journey. He quickly became proficient on the Cuban clave, guiro, and bongo. At the same time, he initiated his lifetime love of music by joining the Do Re Mi Fa Choir. Michel’s solid grounding in Cuban music, mixed later with a love of Brazilian and Portuguese music, formed a strong blended musical foundation. Eventually, inspired by the beauty and complexity of the music of one of the founding fathers of bossa nova, Antônio Carlos (Tom) Jobim, Michel studied Spanish guitar and began writing his own music.

In 2014, Michel met Christine Baxter in Cuba through a Cuba-Canada cultural exchange of choral music. Their creative bond first began with songwriting and, like with any great story, they soon fell in love. Christine moved to Cuba where they married in 2015. Their shared songwriting passion extended to performing together on stage. 

In the summer of 2016, Michel moved to Vancouver Island to be with his new wife, and literally began a new life. After only a few weeks in Canada, Michel and Christine were invited to perform for the Comox Valley Exhibition, marking the official Canadian debut of their duo, Sweet SantaFe. The duo is named after the district Michel and Christine once called home in Havana, Cuba.

Penelope Christine Baxter

Christine Baxter is a Canadian vocalist and songwriter who conveys a level of authenticity through her music which floats on the mystical tones of her soprano voice, reaching into the souls of her audiences. Singing has always been like breathing to Christine, but it wasn’t until after taking her first improvisational acting class as an adult that she began to write down the melodies.

Christine began her singing career at the age of five as a part of her family quartet. The “Timm Family,” as they were known, performed for their local church congregation and soon became a regular feature on a Christian variety television program in her hometown of Lethbridge, Alberta. Through the television format, she explored acting, singing as a soloist, and performing as part of an ensemble. There she learned essential entertainment career skills, including stage presence, work ethic, and an understanding of the long days necessary for performers.

Christine’s love of lyrics led to performing as a singer-songwriter in solo acts, duos and bands. She was featured in concerts and festivals in Victoria, BC, and the Yukon, receiving acclaim for her original songs, in collaboration with songwriter Susie Ross. The unique harmonies the duo created together garnered comparisons to the Indigo Girls and often moved audiences to tears. Christine toured several times as a backup singer with Canadian folk music icon Wyckham Porteous, in Europe, and at the South by Southwest and Kerrville Music Festivals in Texas. She created her first demo album of original songs while co-owning Ragged Pup Records, which has since been acquired by Cordova Bay Entertainment Group. 

In 2014, Christine travelled with the Just In Time choir, performing and exchanging musical and cultural ideas in Cuba. Here she met Michel Rivero. After long-distance communication with Michel she moved to Cuba where she volunteered at the Vocal Clave De Sol music school. In Cuba, she continued to write new material and also began collaborating with Michel Rivero. The name for their collaboration is taken from the district in which they lived in Havana near the Hemingway Marina. Michel and Christine began making their sweet music in the district of Santa Fe, thus their name, Sweet SantaFe. 

In 2016, Sweet SantaFe moved from Havana to Comox, BC where they very soon began sharing their music. Their audience grew as they played local festivals and community events. In less than a year, with the help of their many friends such as Corwin Fox, Blaine Dunaway, Doug Cox, Luke Blu Guthrie and Sean Mooney, Jake Jenne and Jordie Robinson who joined them in studio, Sweet SantaFe created their debut CD titled Santa Fe. Since its release in October 2017, Sweet SantaFe has been transporting audiences with their “authentic," "romantic," and "uplifting" music. Their three-week tour in May of 2018 took them from Vancouver through the interior of BC, on to Alberta and all the way north to Edmonton. In July, Sweet SantaFe and their full band performed, jammed and gave workshops at the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Courtenay, BC.  

The music of Sweet SantaFe has been played across college radio, charting in the #1 spot in World Music on CFBX in Kamloops, and they have performed live on the CITR Medicine show at UBC in Vancouver, and on CFUV in Victoria. As well, Sweet SantaFe has performed alongside Choirs, Rhythm and Roots in Vancouver, and the Island Soul Choir at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, as well as giving numerous solo appearances. Sweet SantaFe has also been sharing their music and teaching at the BC Swing Camp, the Georgia Straight Guitar Workshops, and the Vancouver Island Music Workshops, where they have taught percussion, voice, and guitar. Sweet SantaFe has been interviewed, and their music was featured on No Strings Attached on Shaw television, as well as Talk ‘N Tunes, where they shared their stories and their songs.