Through her acclaimed recordings and appearances, including her triumphant New York debut in 2007, she has enthralled audiences on both sides of the Atlantic with her intoxicating blend of Spanish copla, flamenco, jazz, soul, Mexican rancheras and Afro-Cuban rhythms.
In this program, part of Buika’s first major United States tour, she performs music from her recent CD El Ultimo Trago (The Last Drink), her tribute album to Mexican icon Chavela Vargas. The acclaimed CD was just nominated for two Latin Grammy awards: “Recording of the Year” (for the song “Se Me Hizo Facil”) and “Best Traditional Tropical Album.” Buika is accompanied by Madrid-based Cuban musician Iván “Melon” Lewis (piano), Dany Noe (double bass), and Fernando Favier (percussion) with guitarist Javier Limón appearing as special guest.
Both Buika and Chavela Vargas are on the world’s “50 Great Voices” list on NPR (National Public Radio). Recently Buika completed a duet with Seal entitled “You Get Me” for his new CD Seal 6: Commitment, and taped her screen debut for Pedro Almodóvar’s upcoming film La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I’m In). She will close 2010 with her 21-city tour that begins October 15 in Chicago and ends November 20 in Miami.
Buika (“BWEE-kah”) was born María Concepción Balboa Buika to parents who arrived to Spain as political exiles from the African nation of Equatorial Guinea. Her family members were the only black residents in one of Palma de Mallorca’s poor neighborhoods, and such local curiosities that Buika remembers how neighbors used to reach out to touch her hair – an Afro styled from pictures of her early musical idols, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
She found a second home among the community of Gypsy families, finding in flamenco’s individualistic spirit a path to self-acceptance. Flamenco was an open door, remembers Buika: “It’s not just about music, it’s a way of life. It’s about not running away from yourself. Some people sing about what they would like to happen or would like to be, but in the copla and el cante, we confront who we are, with all our fears and all our defects. In the United States there’s also a great tradition like this: it’s called the blues.”
In 2007, Buika released her U.S. debut album Mi Niña Lola (My Little Girl Lola, which won “Best Album” and “Best Production” honors at the Spanish Music Awards.
Her next recording project, Niña de Fuego (Child of Fire), produced and arranged by Javier Limón (Bebo y Cigala, Paco de Lucía), and released in 2008, helped to catapult her internationally into the ranks of the most exciting voices in modern Latin music. The CD scored two Latin Grammy nominations in 2008: “Album of the Year” and “Best Production” and the singer was soon invited to appear on the televised awards, performing her searing rendition of the Mexican classic “Volver, Volver.”
The story of Buika’s relationship with Chavela Vargas began with artistic disappointment. It happened in Madrid four years ago, when Chavela refused to allow Buika on stage to sing with her. After that bitter beginning, the singers became friends, and Vargas was soon declaring that in Buika she had discovered “my black daughter” and “the most amazing and personal voice I have heard in many years.”
El Último Trago (The Last Drink), a tribute to Chavela Vargas, was released in October 2009 as the hard-living, hard-loving Mexican singer celebrated her 90th birthday. Buika reinvents the repertoire that Vargas has built over her entire career. “Las Ciudades” (The Cities), “Las Simples Cosas” (The Simple Things), “Sombras” (Shadows), and “Luz de Luna” (Moonlight) are some of the songs that Chavela performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Buenos Aires’ Luna Park, Olympia Theatre in Paris, as well as in Pedro Almodóvar’s and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s films. In the CD, Buika reinvents these Mexican standards, creating a kind of “tequila tablao” – as Spanish as it is Mexican, and as old as it is new. Buika will perform El Último Trago — and celebrate the remarkable life of Chavela Vargas — across North America in her first major tour, beginning October 15th.
“In El Ultimo Trago, Buika celebrates all the incarnations of passion, from the most glowing to the darkest. She does so in a thrilling and original way,” says Pedro Almodóvar
Buy Buika’s recordings:
This tour of Buika is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional funding is provided by American Express.
Friday, October 22, 2010 8:00 PM
Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, NYC
$35, $45, $60; students $20 www.ticketmaster.com
Info/tickets (212) 545-7536 www.worldmusicinstitute.org
For video, please visit: www.worldmusicinstitute.org/event.php?id=1050