One of the big winners this year at the Latin Grammys was Rosalía Vila Tobella, a 25-year-old Spanish singer-songwriter from Catalonia, Spain. Wait – you ask. A flamenco singer….from Catalonia?? Yes, A flamenco singer from Catalonia who is bringing her own style of “nuevo flamenco” mixed with hip-hop and pop to the forefront. Many say Rosalía is a big reason we’re all talking about flamenco again, and that she’s getting a new generation excited about this tradition by mixing the music up in new ways. I couldn’t agree more.
When I first heard her music and saw her videos, I knew she had captured both traditional Spanish feeling and icons as well as the sound of a new, young generation. This generation has come of age in a Spain that’s very different from that of their parents and grandparents. In some ways it’s a very different Spain from even ten or twenty years ago. Rosalía successfully combines both new and old. One reviewer from Pitchfork describes her work well:
“One approach—a very successful one—lies in El Mal Querer, the relentlessly gorgeous album from Rosalía Vila Tobella, a 25-year-old Spanish singer with one foot steeped in her Catalan history and the other hypebae-sneakered foot sidling into the future. Rooted in flamenco—the Arabic-influenced Andalusian music which she has studied since a young age—El Mal Querer is a dramatic, romantic document that seamlessly links that tradition’s characteristic melodrama to the heart-wrenching storytelling of modern, woman-flexing R&B. Flamenco music carries the sound of Spanish history within it—you can practically hear the migration patterns—and Rosalía uses it to tell the story of a doomed relationship across 11 songs, each one serving as a new chapter. It is one of the most exciting and passionately composed albums to appear not only in the global bass tradition but in the pop and experimental spheres this year.”
I really respect Rosalía’s study of flamenco and what she brings to the genre. Some people say that, being from Northern Spain, she has no business representing the traditionally Southern Spanish sound of flamenco. Whatever!! Here is the popular track from El Mal Querer: “Malamente.”
Happy Holidays – Felices Fiestas.