14 nov. 2011

Buika and Almodóvar: A love story

The sound of percussion, the guitars and the piano were all set for what would be a memorable concert, but when the voice started to travel from Flamenco tunes to African inspired melodies, from Jazz and Blues to Soul and Electronica, Concha Buika confirmed the reasons for her success as a Flamenco fusion singer.

Behind the scenes video of Flamenco star Buika on the making of "En Mi Piel", her new best of album

It happened only a couple of years ago that I had the opportunity to watch live, for the first time, the singer Concha Buika. My contagious excitement coaxed my family to join me. But I'm not the only one: a famous admirer of Concha Buika is Pedro Almodóvar, the internationally acclaimed Spanish film director. Almodóvar confesses in public: "Film, for me, is representation, and so are the songs that I use as a narrative tool. Life isn't as it's seen in my films, nor is Madrid, nor La Mancha, nor the foolish, over-the-top women. My films tell my personal, unconscious, profound version of the life that surrounds me and is my inspiration. The same thing happens with songs."

One of Pedro Almodovar's common ways to engage and surprise lays in the way he uses music. Since the release of Concha Buika's last album, Almodovar showed his respect for her voice and music. The mutual admiration between these artists was already known so it wasn't surprising to see Buika singing and acting as a singer in Almodóvar's last movie. Buika also sings Por El amor De Amar (For The Love of Loving) and Se Me Hizo Facil (It Was Easy For Me) - a duet with Chavela Vargas, the 'rough voice of tenderness' with Mexican rancheras among other popular Latin American song genres.

Concha was born in 1972 on the Spanish Mediterranean resort island of Majorca. With an Equatorial Guinea background and surrounded by Romani people during her childhood, Buika's influences grew wide and diverse. Soon Concha became an icon in the Flamenco and Cante world with songs like Mi Niña Lola (My Little Girl Lola) and Jodida Pero Contenta (Fucked But Happy) where her hoarse Spanish voice proved to herself and to the world that she would be here to stay.

But Buika aspired for more and when Chucho Valdes, the renowned Cuban musician, invited her for an album together, the results would surprise even her fans. Buika was always a worldly voice that morphed from being a Tina Turner's impersonator to a house music singer, from African inspired Flamenco to Soul. Concha Buika is like a chameleon that constantly eagers for new colours and it was while wearing the colours of Jazz and Latin/Flamenco that her last album, El Último Trago (The Last Drink) with Valdes was born. It was in 2008 that she reached the rest of the Latin world and beyond after being nominated for a Latin Grammy Award.

For those who are used to Hollywood blockbusters, I do warn you that these both artists 'in your face' approach may be initially harder to trespass your skin but my advice is to allow yourself a few minutes to absorb it. Allow yourself to feel, to cry and laugh; allow yourself to love, hate and desire. Watch Almodovar's movie and listen to Buika alone and in silence and you'll understand the passion that dwells in these artists. Everything will make sense then.

last movie, La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In) approaches lust and obsession in an intriguing way that will not disappoint the viewers that are looking for an authentic thriller. The film will be screened at the Closing Night of the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) and then released to different cinemas around the country. Buy tickets for BIFF (click here!)

Alina Filipe Nunes http://www.spanishaustralia.org

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