Spanish musical phenomenon Rosalía, the internationally acclaimed and Grammy-winning artist who took one of Spain’s oldest and most traditional arts, flamenco, and turned it into in something absolutely new and innovative, by adding electronic, R&B and hip-hop accents, is coming to Toronto for a concert at Rebel on May 2nd.
Born in 1993 in Catalonia, Rosalía’s name started getting known in 2017, and two viral singles, Malamente and Pienso en tu mirá, anticipated her second album, El mal querer (2018), written by her and co-produced with El Guincho, who would also participate in the composition of some songs.
Touring in support of El mal querer, Rosalía already made stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. She also programmed several appearances in the global summer festival circuit: including Pharrell’s inaugural Something in the Water Fest in Virginia Beach, followed by Barcelona festival Primavera Sound and Glastonbury in the U.K.
For her new album, Rosalía drew inspiration from a XIV century anonymous work, Flamenca, which recounts the story of a girl who marries a man so jealous that keeps her imprisoned. The songs of the album are divided into real chapters, as in a book, and they represent the answer to that toxic and bad love. “A female empowerment message she learnt from her mother, Beyoncé, Björk, Lauryn Hill, as well as those flamenco singers who didn’t care about their look, they just wanted to be real,” writes Cecilia Caruso at NSS Magazine.
Rosalía also crossed language boundaries after several collaborations with artists such as J Balvin, Pharrell Williams and James Blake. In 2019, she made her acting debut in the Pedro Almodovar’s film Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria).
“By using the time-honored Andalusian art form as her canvas, Rosalía brings high drama to a Spanish-language pop world that has otherwise stayed close to the laid-back sensuality of upbeat, Caribbean-sourced sounds like reggaeton and dembow. Yet she knows better than to work against the rising dominance of the urban mainstream; in fact, she welcomes those elements into her songs, where both 808s and palmas, or percussive hand claps, cradle her vocal melismas with ease. Some critics have voiced concerns over a Catalan artist, a northerner, taking so much liberty with a folk genre that evolved from the amalgamation of Jewish, Romani and Moor diasporas in the south of Spain. Rosalía, however, insists her interpretations are not born out of any disrespect, but out of a natural curiosity for the medium itself.”, writes Suzy Exposito at Rolling Stone.