By Michael Henningsen
Heaven on Earth
Perla Batalla and her miraculous voice return to New Mexico
Sublime. Perhaps never before has the word been more gainfully employed than in the description of Perla Batalla's spark plug of a voice. The Los Angeles-born singer is the Latina Aretha Franklin and, at times, Patsy Cline. She runs a stylistic gamut that stretches wide between Arabic drone and Mexican lullabies, and no matter what she happens to be singing, it's quite likely among the most beautiful and inspiring things you've ever heard.
Having grown up in a home where the sounds of John Coltrane were just as likely to come out of the Hi-Fi speakers as the music of Muddy Waters, Javier Solis and Lucha Reyes, Batalla is able to infuse her original songs with a wide variety of influences, affording her the opportunity to make music that truly sounds like nothing else most listeners have heard before. Another part of her musical education has been her association with legendary bard Leonard Cohen, with whom she toured extensively as a background singer, as well as her work as a vocalist for various television and film projects.
It was Cohen, in fact, who encouraged Batalla to begin writing her own songs and set her exploring the opportunities between Mexico and San Francisco, which led her to collaborations with k.d. lang, Iggy Pop and the Gipsy Kings to name a few. But no matter who she surrounds herself with, Batalla is a musician of singular, extraordinary talent who is about to knock your socks off.
Perla Batalla performs Saturday, Nov. 6, at Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech Campus in Socorro, Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe and Friday, Nov. 12, in Albuquerque at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Call venues for ticket information and show times.
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Delphia Giovanna • singer-