Concha Buika's African-Inspired Flamenco Concha Buika's sultry voice and varied musical influences have earned her worldwide acclaim. Her latest album, La Nina de Fuego, fuses the musical traditions of Africa and Spain with jazz, soul and dance and has been nominated for the Latin Grammy Album of the Year.

Concha Buika's African-Inspired Flamenco

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And now we'll hear about another performer who won acclaim by going abroad. Tomorrow night, Univision will televise the Latin Grammy Awards to an estimated 90 million viewers around the world. Among those up for album of the year will be a flamenco singer from Spain who was born in Africa. Jerome Socolovksy met Concha Buika recently in Madrid.

(Soundbite of music)

JEROME SOCOLOVKSY: Concha Buika's voice has been described as sultry, sonorous, and achingly beautiful.

(Soundbite of song "La Falsa Moneda")

Ms. CONCHA BUIKA: (Singing) Gitana, que tu seras como la falsa moneda...

SOCOLOVKSY: The voice has been a sensation in Spain since Buika's previous album, "Mi Nina Lola," came out in 2005. Buika is part of a new generation of flamenco performers who are hooking young audiences by mixing in other influences.

(Soundbite of song "New Afrospanish Collective")

Ms. BUIKA: (Singing) We are arabian transs(ph) of progress, We are the new Afrospanish collective.

SOCOLOVKSY: The fusion of flamenco with jazz, soul, and dance rhythms mirrors the story of Buika's own life. She grew up in Mallorca, an island where the population includes everyone from American millionaires to German and English tourists to poor Gypsies in the barrio where her family lived. But she says there was no one else of African origin.

Ms. BUIKA: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVKSY: I was always the only black in the movie theater, the only black in class, the only black in the library, and the only black in the discotheque, she says. I always felt observed and judged. Buika's father was a political exile from Equatorial Guinea. It's a former Spanish colony with one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. In Mallorca, her family sang African tunes at home.

Ms. BUIKA: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVKSY: But she says her mother also had an entire wall filled with jazz records. And she recalls one of her favorite songs from that time.

(Soundbite of song "Bye Bye Blackbird")

Ms. BUIKA: (Singing) Gonna pack up all my care and woe. Here I go, swingin' low. Bye bye blackbird. Where somebody waits for me. My sugar's sweet, so is she. Bye bye blackbird.

SOCOLOVKSY: Buika got her start as a performer singing at clubs on Mallorca and neighboring Ibiza, Europe's party island. Later she tried her luck in Las Vegas. She sang in casinos as a Tina Turner lookalike.

Ms. BUIKA: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVKSY: Yeah, I was there, having fun for a while. It was strange, she says. Las Vegas is a very strange place. It's a place of broken dreams. Buika's latest album, "La Nina de Fuego," is a collection of flamenco songs and Spanish and Mexican folk ballads.

(Soundbite of song "La Nina de Fuego")

Ms. BUIKA: (Singing) En tus ojos negros, Hay lagrimas puras, De esas que profesan, Tu buenaventura. La nina de fuego te llama la gente...

SOCOLOVKSY: The songs are about women dealing with loneliness, infidelity, and the consequences of falling in love with the wrong man or woman. Buika's turbulent affairs with both sexes has only added to her allure in Spain.

Ms. BUIKA: (Spanish spoken)

SOCOLOVKSY: I sing against emotional dictatorships, she says, and against the imposition of one person over another in the name of love. For NPR News, I'm Jerome Socolovksy in Madrid.

MONTAGNE: And you can hear Concha Buika sing more songs from her album at This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

SHAPIRO: And I'm Ari Shapiro.

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