To start our new World Music segment, Laura Salesa interviews a successful young flamenco singer/songwriter who has reached new generations of music lovers from all backgrounds with her powerful yet sweet voice. India Martinez was only eleven years old when she started singing in flamenco groups around her native Andalusia under the alias “La Niña del Puerto” (The Seaport’s Little Girl).
At seventeen she recorded her first album; her second album, Despertar (Waking up), got her a nomination for Best New Artist at the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards and her third album, Trece Verdades (Thirteen Truths), was in the top 100 for a whopping 68 weeks, peaking at Number 3. Last year she released her fifth album, Camino de la Buena Suerte (The Way to Good Luck), though we will discover that India’s success is due more to hard work than luck.
iSing: When did you start singing?
India Martinez: I started singing in flamenco groups around Almería when I was eleven, though I remember learning songs from my mother when I was only two or three.
iSing: Have you ever taken singing lessons?
IM: My teachers have been many: Camarón, Niña de los Peines, Terremoto de Jerez, Antonio Molina and many others. I had the chance to do an intensive course at Cristina Heren school after winning a grant in a competition.
iSing: How do you prepare your voice before singing live?
IM: One hour before singing I do some exercises to warm up, practising some vocal scales to get ready before coming up to the stage.
iSing: What advice could you give to anyone trying to break through the industry?
IM: I don’t feel I am the one to give advice. However I would say that if you love music, fight for it, be loyal to the dream and that will lead you to happiness.
iSing: Which artists have influenced your work?
IM: Within flamenco there are so many references for me like the ones I gave you earlier but also other artists from different music genres who have influenced me in the past. Arab singers like Ehab Tawfik, Oum Kaltum, Nancy Ajram… I also listen to traditional Indian, Romania and Latin music.
iSing: How do you define your music style?
IM: My own style is a combination of everything I found along my way. I can’t really define myself or label my style. I am a singer with flamenco roots and ethnic influences. My style is to sing with emotion.
iSing: What makes flamenco music so appealing to audiences outside of Spain?
IM: Flamenco is one of the cultural treasures we have in Andalucía and Spain. We have it so close that sometimes we take it for granted, while outside Spain it is so respected and admired.
“LOS GATOS NO LADRAN” (CATS DON’T BARK) BY INDIA MARTINE
“Vísteme despacio, que tengo prisa”. This is a Spanish saying that is roughly equivalent to “haste makes waste”. This is the first bit of advice India’s manager gave her, warning that the way to success would be tough, but with patience, time, perseverance and enthusiasm she could get wherever she wanted to be.