When: Sept. 19 & 20
Location: National Hispanic Cultural Center
Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and Grammy-nominee
Admission: $15-$35; discounts for Lensic members
The Lensic Performing Arts Center proudly presents Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Perla Batalla on May 5.
Batalla, a performer the Los Angeles Times called “a Chicana Joni Mitchell” and “a gutsier Joan Baez,” is known for her rich, soulful voice and her deep repertoire, which includes traditional Mexican folk melodies, powerful ballads, and pulsing blues rhythms. She will sing in both English and Spanish, covering songs from her albums Mestiza (1999); Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (2007), a Grammy-nominated tribute to her early mentor; and more.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, where her father was a musician, Batalla is of Mexican and Argentine descent. She received much of her music education while working at her parents’ Spanish-language record store, Discoteca Batalla, where immigrants gathered for music, conversation, and entertainment.
Batalla first gained international attention when she sang back-up for singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen on his 1988 and 1993 tours. With Cohen’s encouragement, she launched a solo career with the release of her 1993 album Perla Batalla on Warner/Discovery.
Her second and third albums, Mestiza (1999) and Heaven and Earth (2000), released on her own Mechuda Music label, were co-written with master songwriter David Batteau and represent what Batalla calls the Mestiza (“of mixed blood”) song cycle. The two collections offer a vision of a vibrant culture still nourished by mysticism, imagery, magic, and myth. Amazon named Mestiza Best Independent Release of the Year.
Since then Batalla has released several albums, including Discoteca Batalla (2002), a compilation of new songs interspersed with Spanish language classics, and the acclaimed Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen. Her 2012 collaboration with pianist and composer Karen Hammack, Lazy Afternoon, features jazz interpretations of classics like Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boys” and Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”
In 2011 Batalla was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to compose and perform an original song for the opening of the exhibit “The Adventures of Women Surrealists in Mexico and the U.S.” Batalla partnered once again with songwriter Batteau to build a full-length theatrical concert called Blue House, inspired by the frescos, canvases, and private journals of Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Throughout her career, Batalla has worked to expose young audiences in some of the poorest areas of the United States to the beauty of music and the Spanish language. In 2007 she received a United Nations Earth Charter Award for extraordinary devotion to social and economic justice.
Videos and recordings of Batalla’s performances can be seen on her official website; visit http://www.perla.com/watch.