Las Guitarras de España's fifth CD, Tantas Cosas, brings together international musicians from the worlds of Flamenco, Latin Rock, African, Indian and Middle Eastern traditions. The album spotlights the writing and vocals of longtime collaborator Patricia Ortega.
In Ortega's words: This album is a culmination of so many things, experienced, shared and discovered from the end of one path toward the great mystery of new beginnings; so many things that obscure our perceptions with darkness; so many things that bring to light the beauty that lies in the heart of humankind.
Under the direction of guitarist and band leader Carlo Basile, Las Guitarras de España has been featured on National Public Radio, WTTW's Chicago Tonight and WGN TV. Their past albums have received favorable reviews from The Pioneer Press, Gapers Block and The Chicago Tribune.
How do you describe your music to people?
This is always an interesting task, especially to those that are not familiar with flamenco or world music. I explain that it is based in Spanish guitar music, with some traditional elements (aire/feel) of flamenco, combined with other world music genres, including African/Indian/Mexican sounds, fused with our own home grown styles in pop, rock, and R&B music.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
In terms of singing, I have always sung. I do not remember a time when I did not sing. For me it was like talking, and I thought that everyone had the ability to sing. My family is very musical and I remember learning Mexican folk songs from my grandfather when I was young, as well as, several different forms of dance ranging from Mexican folkloric, Hawaiian, and even Disco from my aunts. I was very involved in Chorus, Concert Band, and Musical Theater through my schooling too. In terms of flamenco singing, I started to study in 2003 after being introduced to the form through my involvement with Las Guitarras de España.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
My most favorite thing to do in the world is to create and to perform with great musicians! There is no feeling like it, letting it all out, and letting it all go on stage is a truly magical experience. This combined with traveling are most favorite things to do, and each thing feeds each other.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The hardest challenge in being a professional musician is the business aspect of it; the promotion, negotiating, strategic planning etc, can be very overwhelming at times. Also, not settling for less than you are worth in order to put food on the table.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I always dreamed of being a “star”! My vision consisted of me performing my music for an audience that was interested (and would pay) to share in my music and performance. So in essence, I became what I envisioned as a child.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Growing up in Chicago (urban culture) and in America (Western culture) greatly impacted my growth and development as a musician. My own family’s cultural heritage (Cuban/Mexican) took a part in that as well. I had an older brother that influenced my taste in music as he listened to great bands from various genres like Lakeside, Prince, Michael Jackson, to RUSH, Pink Floyd, Styx, and Led Zeppelin. I got my start singing at teen clubs during the Chicago House Music Scene in the 80’s. It was a vast blend of many different sounds, genres, and cultures and I loved absorbing every bit of it.
What other artists out there do you love?
I love Prince, Teena Marie, Stevie Wonder, Ann Peebles, Freddie King; the flamenco greats like Camaron de la Isla, La Paquera de Jerez, nouveau flamenco groups like Chambao, Concha Buika, Bebe, Ojos de Brujo, other Latin groups like, Café Tacuba, L’hasa de Sela, Lila Downs, Juan Gabriel, Rocio Durcal, Celiz Cruz, Orishas; and artists like Indigo Girls, Adele, Tori Amos, Elliot Smith, Blur to name only a few.
What does your future hold?
My future holds many more wonderful life lessons and experiences to share with others. I look forward to creating and producing more music, more travel and more happiness!