Center for the Arts Presents Songstress Buika

Posted: October 29, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: October 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Buika

Hailed as the “flamenco queen” by the New York Post, the sensual songstress known as Buika has gone from being a struggling artist to a trailblazing force in contemporary Spanish music in just a few short years.

Buika appears for the first time at Mason’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m.

Known for her unique blend of jazz, blues and soul with gypsy rumba, Afro-Cuban music and flamenco, Buika is a master of “coplas,” or torch songs.

“You have to want to sing about the many parts of who you are … the art of a person is sometimes in their pain,” Buika says. “It’s everywhere, and I think one must live openly, bravely and tell it like it is at every moment.”

The daughter of African political refugees from the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Concha Buika (pronounced BWEE-kah) was born María Concepción Balboa Buika. She may have grown up poor in a gypsy neighborhood in Palma, the capital city on the island of Majorca in Spain, but Buika’s childhood was rich with song.

She grew up singing and learned to play the guitar, piano and bass, and later, the cello.

“I am African, and an African does not have musical training,” Buika says. “An African can’t live without music. Like meals, music was part of our daily life. There has always been music in my head and in my heart.”

One of the few black residents in her neighborhood, Buika found a second home among the community of gypsy families who lived nearby and exposed her to flamenco’s emotional “cante jondo,” or deep song, as well as coplas.

She entered into the music scene as a professional blues singer at a hotel in Majorca and later branched out by singing jazz and soul music in venues across Europe. In 2001, she accepted a job performing at several Las Vegas casinos as a Tina Turner impersonator, complete with the requisite wig, sparkly mini-dresses and platform shoes.

A year later, she returned to Majorca, where she recorded an independent jazz album. In between touring abroad, she divides her time between Majorca and Madrid.

She has released four albums: “Buika” in 2005; “Mi Niña Lola” (her U.S. debut) in 2006; “Niña de Fuego” in 2008, which received a Latin Grammy nomination for album of the year; and in 2009, “El Último Trago,” a haunting tribute to the legendary 90-year-old Latin songstress Chavela Vargas. Buika recorded the album with master Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar contributed the album’s liner notes, as Vargas’ music has been featured on the soundtracks of several of his films.

Buika also recently collaborated with pop star Nelly Furtado on the Latin-inspired song “Fuerte” on Furtado’s 2009 album “Mi Plan” and sang on Seal’s single “You Get Me” on his latest album, “Commitment.”

Almodóvar recently cast Buika in his latest film, “La Piel Que Habita” (The Skin I Inhabit), starring Antonio Banderas and Marisa Paredes. She also contributed two songs to the film’s soundtrack.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier. Pre-performance discussions are sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts. HSBC is the sponsor for the 2010-11 Global View series.

Tickets are $42, $34 and $21. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu.


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