Iconográfica: Concha Buika, Chavela Vargas’ "Hija Negra"

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Iconográfica is a column that celebrates divas that not only bring it artistically on a regular basis but exude grrrl power in the process. It’s a pop culture exploration of Latin icons with original illustrations and animated gifs by Cristóbal Saez.

Twitter: @PopAesthete

It’s safe to say that if there’s someone whose taste I would blindly follow, it would be Pedro Almodóvar‘s. His soundtracks ooze passion, always keeping an ear to the Latin ground. Almodóvar has a way of turning Latin pop divas into his muses, so it only makes sense that Concha Buika joined the ranks of Chavela Vargas and La Lupe when she appeared in his 2011 Antonio Banderas thriller La piel que habito. Sure, Buika was well known before she connected with the Spanish director, but she’s invaded the Spanish music scene even more thanks to her captivating and courageous voice.

Almodóvar isn’t the only connection Buika has to Chavela Vargas. Buika’s collab album with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, El Ultimo Trago, was a tribute to the legendary songstress. Buika reworked classics like “Se me hizo fácil” with a Flamenco pop sound, but also tinged it with Afrocuban flavor. Oh, and Chavela Vargas called Buika her “hija negra.” You know, casually.

Her signature sound is largely due to her wide cultural background. Buika was born to an African family in Equatorial Guinea but was raised in a gypsy community in Mallorca. Like a true third culture kid, she remembers not fitting into either one of those countries. “I discovered that the world is my house. [..] What I try to do when I sing is to follow my free note,” she’s philosophized.

Yes, that is how she talks all the time. It’s almost as if her wise artistry has followed her into her personal life. If you have seen Buika interviewed, you can tell that she lives and breathes her coplas. In this interview, she elaborates on how she utilizes music to cleanse herself of guilt, even claiming that guilt doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t mind having her as my shrink (just as long as I get private concerts as well). Her creativity even propelled her to publish her own volume of poetry, A los que amaron a mujeres difíciles y acabaron por soltarse, which includes recipe songs that she sings while she cooks (we should’ve included her in our Top 10 Culinary Tracks!).

Buika’s newest record, La Noche Más Larga, comes out today, and it follows the Spanish fusion sound that El Ultimo Trago set. The record features covers of classics like Jacques Brel‘s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and Billy Holiday‘s “Don’t Explain,” as well as five original songs. As usual, the record is well rounded and beautifully crafted, and standout tracks like “Sueño con Ella” only further catapult Buika into superstar status.

Download Buika’s La Noche Mas Larga below: