Venezuela-born, New York City-raised, Barbara Martinez is a flamenco dancer and singer with serious chops. The Philadelphia Inquirer called her sounds "achingly beautiful" and The New York Times said she makes "something fresh of the Latino style." Martinez has danced with the Metropolitan Opera in shows like Carmen and La Traviata, and now this passionate performer comes to the stage at The Highline Ballroom Settle in with a beverage and food from the full Brunch menu and get ready for an intimate Show of Brazilian jazz and flamenco.
I'm Barbara Martinez and I grew up in New York City singing in opera and musical theater. I was born in Venezuela, although my mother and her side of the family is from Argentina. I guess have inherited the love for music, theater and art from my family. My grandmother and her aunt made long careers for themselves as singer/actresses in Argentina, and my father is a sculptor in Venezuela. When I returned to New York after college at Brown U, I fell in love with flamenco, although my mother claims i was dancing as a child in the kitchen! I travel to Spain every year and brought back all the learning and all the magic of those hours spent with my idols and friends. For many years I focused on the dancing (el baile), and studis intensely with New York pillars like La Conja and La Meira, working and learning on the job at Jorge Navarro's original tablao, Alegrias back when it was on on Bedford Street and 7th. I worked with dance companies like Andrea del Conte Danza Espana. Then I returned to my alma mater, The Met Opera, where I had sung for many years as a child, but this time as a gypsy dancer in Carmen and La Traviata.
I began focusing more and more on flamenco singing (el cante) when I had my son Mateo and I began to sing more and more for dancers. I had learned somuch from the singers who had sung for me over the years, Alfonso Cid, David Castellanos, Luis Vargas, Aurora Reyes and so many others from Spain. In 2008, I studied cante on scholarship at the Cristina Heeren Foundation in Seville, Spain. In 2010 I was honored to be invited to sing at Carnegie Hall to participate in a series put together by William Maselli, featuring world music singers.
Today, I spend my time doing a lot of singing for flamenco dance companies like Carlota Santana Flamenco Vivo, Pasion y Arte, A Palo Seco, Sol y Sombra and often with Juanito Pascual in Boston. I also perform as a soloist, sometimes with a full sextet of flamenco and jazz musicians, and sometimes in smaller formats. This is a lush and eclectic repertoire of flamenco, Latin, Sephardic, Middle Eastern and jazz, always interspersed with dance. These past few years of performing in jazz venues over the years with this group are culminating, as we speak, in a recording production that will hopefully do justice to this unique sound.
Director Carolina Loyola-Garcia recently made a documentary called "Sobre Las Olas - A Story of Flamenco in the U.S." about artists like myself who dedicate ourselves to flamenco torch outside of Spain. Flamenco Vivo also sponsored the exhibit "100 Years of Flamenco in New York" at the Performing Arts Library, featuring us and also the many artists who paved the way. Any flamenco aficionado or professional would probably say that flamenco is a lifetime learning experience. The world of flamenco songs is so vast that we are constantly studying and researching the palos, the artists who popularized different cantes and bailes, the styles that pertain to each specific region of Andalucia and the endlessly fascinating layers of history and cross-dissemination of cultures in Spain help define flamenco as an ever-evolving and unique art form.
You can see flamenco almost every night in New York City, at Alegrias at La Nacional, for example on Saturdays and Andanada for flamenco brunch on Sundays, and numerous other daily venues where my collegues also perform.
"Something fresh" -New York Times
"[Among] the extraordinary singers [were] the achingly beautiful flamenco sounds of Barbara Martinez." -Philadelphia Inquirer
"The haunting voice of Barbara Martinez seems to be the secret force that binds the dancers entirely to the shifts in melody, volume, mood." -NYTheater.com
"The high point for me was the vocalist Barbara Martinez. She is a charming presence on stage." -Theater Online
"Barbara Martinez, of the serene disposition and the elegantly pleasing lines." -Urgent Artist
"Barbara Martinez is considered one of the most important representatives of flamenco." -El Universal