Photo: Alea’s new album is called Alborotá. Photo courtesy of the artist / Provided by Press Junkie PR with permission.
Alea, the accomplished singer-songwriter, has been affected by the pandemic, as have other musicians around the world, but her artistry has never stopped. The Colombian-born, Bronx-based performer has remained busy for the past 18 months putting the finishing touches on her new album, Alborota, which was recently released. She will celebrate these new songs during a special concert on Friday August 27 at the Loft at City Winery in New York City.
“It’s really good to get to this,” Alea said in a recent telephone interview. “I think my idea for the album started around 2017. I had just moved to New York, and New York was brutal. I worked four times, doing so many different things. I didn’t find much inspiration. How was I going to be successful here? I started writing about things that made me really uncomfortable – at work, with other people, and things that I didn’t feel like I was talking about out loud or that I cared about. I started to write the songs.
These songs have started to catch on, and they feature touches of cumbia, porro, currulao and huapango, with tasty pop, afro and latin grooves for good measure, according to a press release. Over the past couple of years, listeners have had the chance to listen to a few of the singles from the new record, and one of the instant fan favorites is “Échale Sal,” named one of NPR Alt’s favorite tracks. Latino in 2020.
“Understand a little [my] the culture helped me to connect a little more to my own spiritual liberation and to try to heal all those silences which I felt were not just mine, ”said Alea of the inspiration for Alborota. “They were from my grandmother and my mother and women before me, and every woman I started having conversations with around that time told me stories that they had lived. I’m the kind of person people tell things to. It’s crazy how many stories I heard and put into me. I said I had to put that in songs, so I started writing.
These inspirations and stories finally gained momentum, and then, in 2018, Alea lost her voice. She suffers from a vocal cord injury, and the silence puts her new project in perspective. “I called a friend who has always been there to help me conceptualize, and we started to put our thoughts on paper,” she said.
She eventually recovered from her injury and the songs that emerged were deeply personal. For example, the title song is a hymn for women, and while writing the song, Alea kept telling herself that she was not “too much” for the world or “needed it.” ‘tone down’ as she sometimes heard it in her life. She was done with compromises and letting others tell her how to live.
“So I started to get comfortable with the idea of making other people feel uncomfortable because as a Latin woman it’s not something you do,” the singer said. . “There’s that pride in sacrifice, and culturally we really take it to another level. “
“Aire Gaujiro”, another song on the album, is a tribute to La Guajira, the “forgotten state” of Alea in Colombia who loves his unique form of country and folk music called Vallenato. And when the inspiration came, Alea turned to her fan base and asked for their help in making that dream come true. She started an Indiegogo campaign because she had a lot of ideas but needed funding for the registration process.
“How was I going to do [the album], working four jobs, babysitting, teaching all kinds of music, voice, cafeteria, whatever, ”she said. “This Indiegogo ended up being successful. There were approximately 188 contributors. Everyone was so supportive of the way we were thinking about this. We only had a few songs at the time. We only had three or four fully written songs. The rest was ideas we had, scratch stuff, a little chorus there, verses there. The rest of the album came by playing.
Once the funding was secured, Alea connected with producer Sinuhé Padilla Isunza at Jarana Records. During the recording process, she appreciated her vast knowledge of Latin American folk music. “This man has traveled all over the world, especially Latin America, actually living with those communities where this music was born,” she said. “He helped me find these rhythms and this new musical aesthetic that I kind of had in mind, but I couldn’t see it fully in front of me. We got together and he said, ‘Yeah, I want to do this album. Let me produce it. I was really, really excited that someone would even consider doing something so blind because it’s not easy. I wasn’t doing a pop album, or, oh yeah, I wanted to sound like this artist. When people ask me what your voice sounds like, I can’t really tell.
As Alea said, she was doing something out of nothing.
“Little by little people would find him and maybe love him,” the singer hoped. “I had to go all the way. It is a very deep impulse and a force to continue after all these years.
By John Soltes / Editor / [email protected]
Alea’s new album is Alborotá, and she will be performing on Friday August 27 at the Loft at City Winery in New York City. Click on here for more information and tickets.