Theres something powerful in starting over.
Thats the theme explored on Canadian singer Amanda Martinezs recently released album Mañana, which features a unique blend of Latin pop and Mexican folk music, along with flamenco and tinges of jazz and Afro-Cuban music.
The sound is fresh, but I do incorporate traditional elements in some of the folklore songs I listened to growing up, Martinez told VOXXI. The majority of the songs are originals but definitely contain those influences from Latin America. Ive been lucky that people have responded well to it.
As for the notion of starting over, theres an inherent desire and danger attached that the Toronto-born artist knows firsthand. Formerly a TD Bank Associate Director of Trade Finance for Latin America, it was just over a decade ago when the daughter of a Mexican father (an engineer) and a South African mother (a teacher) left the high-paying job to explore her lifelong dream to sing.
Growing up in a bilingual household, she was inspired by her fathers eclectic record collection, which included classical music, Latin legends like Trio Los Panchos, bossa nova and jazz (Stan Getz and Cleo Laine), as well as Joan Baezs Gracias A La Vida.
In Toronto we have this really huge world music community because there are so many immigrants from all over, Martinez said. There is a lot of fusion going on in a lot of different bands here. I just work more intuitively and my sound just all kind of evolved organically.
Amanda Martinezs organic sound began with Latin jazz explored in her 2006 debut, Sola, and its 2009 follow-up Amor. Both albums earned her nominations as Latin Jazz Artist of the Year at Canadas National Jazz Awards and won her Best World Music Artist at Torontos Independent Music Awards. She also sang before 30,000 people at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
However, when it came time record Mañana, Martinez was ready to spread her wings working with Spanish flamenco producer and guitarist Javier Limón (Paco de Lucía, Buika, Diego El Cigala).
For this third album, it was more the elements for me that changed where we had the influence of the tres guitar from Cuba and also the flavor that Javier brings from Spain, Martinez said. So its more guitar focused, and I think thats it a lot more of a pop sensibility to it than a jazz one.
The material ranges from the border love story Va y Viene, to the anthem Esperanza Viva and even Beatles-esque lullaby Le Chemin.
As for that theme of starting over, even though Martinez was born and raised in Canada, she admitted theres an immigrant sensibility that permeates her music. She said its tied to her father, Gustavo, and his life-changing bike trip from Mexico City to Toronto in 1956.
However, in many ways the theme transcends her personal story and instead speaks to common aspects of the immigrant experience.
Some of the themes in Mañana are sort of influenced by the story of my father, who literally came from Mexico to Canada by bicycle, Martinez said. He was following his heart and had no plan B. He was just following this crazy dream and for me, a lot of what I do I try to pay attention to my heart and to follow my gut.
The album pays tribute to that sense of optimism and forging away at a new path and the optimism a new day can bring. I think that is a theme of an immigrant experience, that youre moving towards the unknown but with a hope of a new life and a new beginning.