Now at 33, she leads the next generation of flamenco singers in Spain, with passionate bursts, smoky intonations and wiry, fluid dancing.
When her father died while collaborating and helping record her latest album, "Autorretrato," she likened it to a reverse metamorphosis: "I was in the process of making music, caught up in the artistic process. I was like a butterfly with a lot of colors and with wings open, flying. And (after my father died), life locked me up in the cocoon of a caterpillar before it becomes a butterfly."
Now her mission is to get that music out to as many people as possible. Before she makes her Green Music Center debut Saturday night, Morente took a tour break for an email chat:
<strong>Q: What was the first music you remember hearing as a child?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> It was the voice of my grandmothers singing lullabies. And as time passed, it would be the voices of the people all around me — the voices of the people working in the fields, in the mines and other jobs of Andalucia, the land where I was born.
<strong>Q: What did you learn about music and performing from your parents?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I learned that music calms the beasts. And I also learned that with music we can communicate in any part of the world. Music is a bridge; it is dialogue.
<strong>Q: What is it about flamenco music that you fell in love with?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I am part of flamenco. Flamenco is my way of life. It is my life's breath. It is how my family celebrates life. It grows out of the roots of the land and spreads across the world.
<strong>Q: How did you become involved with Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" and what was it like watching Penelope Cruz sing with your voice?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I am lucky to be part of a masterpiece, a film that has traveled to all parts of the world. It came about as something natural and an absolute collaboration between Pedro (Almodovar) and Penelope (Cruz). And in the end, she was able to convince even me that the voice was hers. It is a song that audiences always request, in every place I perform.
<strong>Q: What can we expect to see on your latest tour?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> This will be an authentic show, from the soul and from the heart. The band is made up of musicians who have been playing flamenco since they were born, and they will give it their all. This tour is the loudspeaker of our feelings and from there we will branch out from flamenco to other worlds.
<strong>Q: What's the perfect show like for you these days?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I've dreamed every day about it and I still do not know yet! What I really feel is that each time I sing in concert, if you could see a bit more about me, you will see how I break into a thousand pieces like glass. So every show is a different experience for the audience and for me. That way it doesn't become boring, and if we're lucky we discover the magic of improvisation.
<em>Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014, firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @becksay.</em>