Fearless in her music, fearless in her life. That’s BUIKA, she of the sensually languorous voice that can reach fiery heights. To speak of Buika is to speak of a singer, songwriter, music producer, writer, and poet who has not only survived, but also thrived, excelled, and left her mark.
Critics, media, and fans alike have realized that Buika defies expectations and confounds conventions. An artist who follows in the tradition of those select performers who have transcended with their voice, charisma, and command of the stage - Buika stirs emotions with her vocals, pierces hearts with her lyrics, and enraptures with her presence.
María Concepción Balboa, born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the daughter of African parents, would become such an arresting and compelling artistic force, no matter the language. As a matter of fact, on her latest album, Vivir Sin Miedo (To Live Without Fear), and for the first time in her career, Buika sings more in English than in Spanish, often mixing the two.
As it only befits someone who has spent the last decade of her life traversing the globe, Vivir Sin Miedo (released by Warner in the fall 2015, with a first single of the same name out in the summer of 2015), is the fusion of all the experiences, feelings, lessons, passions, and rhythms that Buika has incorporated into her creative DNA.
Author of nine of the 10 songs that make up the album, it is infused with elements of Dub foundation, flamenco, R&B, and Afrobeat amongst other genres, and features appearances by Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Mraz, and producer Martin Terefe (Mary J. Blige, Mutya Buena, Coldplay), as well as the Spanish underground flamenco legend Potito.
Over the years, Buika has worked with some of the best DJs, singers, and musicians in the world, including Anoushka Shankar, Seal, Nelly Furtado, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, and Nitin Sawhney, among many others. Her most remarkable soundtrack and film collaboration came in 2011, when Pedro Almódovar featured her in his movie La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In).
It has been said that Buika combines all manner of styles along with her emotionally charged lyrics and a broken sensuality in her voice. Her numerous awards and honors attest to that. Among them: Latin Grammy nominations for Best Album and Best Production for Niña de Fuego (Girl of Fire, special 2-CD Edition, which included her first collection of poems - Warner 2008). She won a Latin Grammy for El Último Trago (The Last Drink), and her last album, La Noche Más Larga (The Longest Night), the first for which she wrote more than half the songs, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Latin Jazz Album category.
Listed by National Public Radio (NPR) among the best 50 vocalists of all time and called “The voice of freedom” by that same radio network, Buika shines at making songs her own. “I never think about anyone’s approval,” says the Miami-based artist. “I just do what my heart is demanding. Sometimes, in the music business, people do what they think other people will like, but that’s a limitation. I just want to be true. I want what Charlie Parker’s got — I want eternity.”
Through her voice, she will achieve that. And through her way of living, she makes the following words by Nina Simone come true: “I tell you what freedom is to me… No fear.”