Penelope Cruz's Real Voice

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When Estrella Morente came on the scene, let’s just say she had a hard act to follow. Her father, the raspy cantaor from Granada, Enrique Morente, is one of Spain’s most beloved singers. He is famous world-wide for his experimental collaborations with all kinds of different musicians – anywhere from Moroccans, to a particularly curious punk tribute to Federico García Lorca’s, “Poeta en New York,” with rockeros Leonard Cohen and Lagartija Nick called “Omega.” Listening to the song, “Manhattan,” in that very album, I heard Estrella sing for the first time. She was probably just hanging out with her cool Dad in a recording studio in New York, when she was like 14, and was invited to bust out with the killer chorus, “Primero, conquistarmeos Manhattan, después conquistaremos Berlin.”  I highly recommend that tune to anyone who is interested in fusions of the world, particularly those interested in punk-flamenco. (Exactly! It doesn’t exist.)

So Estrella is one of those lucky kids with a famous Dad and equally gifted vocal chords. Did you see “Volver?” Did your hairs stand on end? That would be Estrella with her soulful and charmed voice that is mature way beyond her sweet 20 years of age. She is fresh, yet she evokes the flamenco of yester year classic singers like Pastora Pavon (“La Niña de los Peines”) with her cooing melismas and super wide vocal range. She’s daring too, (like her father) because she’s not afraid to sing an Argentine tango, or go for the musical interpretation of an old poet who kids her age probably never knew existed. She has a really old soul, but she’s young and hot and she’s Spain’s next big thing. Trust me. Her first album, Mi cante y un poema, is definitely on my top play list, and her most recent album, a live recording, proves that she can  take command of any stage.

Saturday, February 3rd, will be her first solo performance in New York. She will be performing at Town Hall as part of the 2007 NY Flamenco Festival. Go see her!

P.S. She’s just as pretty as Penelope Cruz and definitely more sexy in that half-gypsy kind of way.