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Buika at NPR's Washington, D.C., headquarters. (NPR)

Buika Hearts NPR

by George T. Gary III
Jun 21, 2013

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George T. Gary III

Just over ten years ago, Spanish flamenco singer Concha Buika was performing as an impersonator in Las Vegas and conjuring her idol, Tina Turner. Now, she's composing her own songs, and inspiring other artists in the process.

In an interview with Tell Me More host Michel Martin, Buika shared how her own heritage plays a large role in inspiring her music. "I never knew, you know, where I was from," she says.

The singer, from the Spanish island Mallorca, recently released her latest album, La Noche Más Larga (The Longest Night). The work nods to her musical inspirations - African rhythms, jazz, blues and soul - all brought together in a unique form of flamenco that transcends boundaries of language and race. "I discovered you don't sing with a beautiful voice," she says. "But you sing with beautiful idea or really big desire."

La Noche Más Larga also showcases Buika's diverse style and unique voice, which wasn't always supported by mentors growing up:

"My teacher in the church, we were singing one afternoon, and she was like, 'Someone is singing like a dog.' And everybody was looking at me. So I realized it was myself. And she was like, 'Come, little girl, come, little girl. Sit down next to me.' And she gives me a Coca-Cola and she says, 'Don't worry, you're not going to sing today.' And the day after, she calls my mother and she was like, 'Tell your little girl don't come by here again.'"

Without her perseverance, Buika might not have spoken with Martin, performed for Bob Boilen's Tiny Desk concert series, or shown NPR some love. We're confident that she'll keep it up.

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