Rosalía is the star that "no one saw coming," according to Billboard, who recently presented the singer-songwriter with their Rising Star Award at the 2019 Billboard Women In Music. The eventful night saw Rosalía sharing the stage with icons such as Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys -- one of many stepping stones taken by the artist in a short period of time. Born a little north of Barcelona, Rosalía initially garnered attention for her bold experiments with traditional Flamenco instrumentations. A formally trained vocalist, it was only around 2016 that the 26-year-old started recording her Flamenco-driven interpretations for a public audience. However, throughout this period, she was well-known in Barcelona's close-knit flamenco circuit.
What may seem to some as a quick rise in fame, is actually quite the contrary. Rosalía has been studying music since a toddler, and has been trained by some of Spain's most notable musical stalwarts. Rosalía's trajectory seems to be a classic situation of luck meets preparation, plus a family that has been extremely supportive of her career.
Rosalía and her big wins at the 20th Latin Grammys | Photo Credit: Access Online
"I FEEL LIKE WITH LOS ÁNGELES, I WANTED TO ESTABLISH MY MUSICAL LEGACY...AND HONOR THE CLASSIC SOUND OF FLAMENCO IN THE MOST TRADITIONAL SENSE."
Rosalía's musical explorations in 2016 culminated in her 2017 debut album, Los Ángeles, which was a series of cantes centered around an overarching theme of death. Her agility in re-imagining Flamenco classics gained her several accolades and a Best New Artist Award in the 2017 Latin Grammys. Importantly, it established her as a contemporary "cantonara," and created international buzz around this new, mesmerizing sound. As she continued to explore, mixing traditional Flamenco with a more popular synth-y, bass-y, urban vibe allowed her to pierce the mainstream veil, beyond the Flamenco circuits of Barcelona. A few collaborations later, teaming up with the likes of Travis Scott, Pharrell Williams and a few other heavy-hitters, the rising star pretty much secured her spot in the big leagues, where she now resides. But really -- none of us saw her coming.
Rosalía live on stage, 2019 | Photo Cred: Billboard
Rosalía's music is like nothing you've quite heard before. It's best you just listen to it. Her repertoire ranges from the pulsating A Palé, to the melancholy and piercing I See A Darkness. She sometimes sings in Spanish, and it's amazing how it just translates. The visual stories that accompany her music are just as ground-moving as her irreverent fusions: her signature gold grills, menacing stares, sharp dance moves, flamboyant outfits, jumping off high rises ... it is all just riveting. It is no surprise that Rosalía actually used to be a Flamenco teacher, and she brings this passion and intensity to her performances.
"I REMEMBER GOING TO THE STUDIO AND I WAS LIKE OK ... SO THE ENGINEER IS A MAN, AND THEN THE PRODUCER IS A MAN TOO, AND I WAS IN COLLEGE ... I STUDIED MUSIC ... AND ALL THE MUSICIANS WERE MEN TOO ... "
Photo Cred: InStyle
When Rosalía took the stage at Billboard's Women In Music to collect her award, she used the platform to make a powerful statement and a vow to the music industry, which makes us believe there is so much more to this refreshing anomaly than vocals and beats. She spoke a little in English and a little in Spanish, which is an unmistakable nod to the refreshing diversity and empowerment of identities that the new generation is ushering in. She went on to describe her childhood with her sisters, paying homage to her mother, whom she said was the ultimate multi-tasker -- very fitting for a night created to celebrate women. She said she was so proud to employ a team of women, which gave her even more authority and authenticity in her message.
"I WILL NEVER STOP 'TILL I SEE THE SAME NUMBER OF WOMEN AS MEN IN THE STUDIO. PUNTO. AS SIMPLE AS THAT.
The vocal powerhouse recalled all the years going to the studio and being surrounded completely by men. From the producers, to the engineers to the musicians. She playfully hinted at the notion that this wasn't always a bad thing *wink* ... but given the sentiment of the evening, her peers and fans watching knew exactly what she meant. You see, Rosalía's biggest sources of inspiration have come from women. Women like Lola Flores, Patti Smith and the inimitable Janis Joplin, so the irony was unmissable. What was most remarkable about her speech, was her careful acknowledgement of all the women on her team that have contributed to her success over the years. The songstress made an unequivocal statement about the work still needed to be done in the music industry in terms of creating more gender balance. Rosalía then closed by vowing to never stop playing her part in empowering women until women were represented in equal numbers in the industry. Punto y final. And the crowd went wild.
"THANKS TO ALL THE WOMEN WHO CAME BEFORE US. AND WE'RE GOING TO BE HERE FOR ALL THOSE WHO ARE COMING."
We 100% co-sign Rosalía. The numbers don't lie. We recommend listening to A Palé and I See A Darkness, as we highlighted above. And if you really want a musical joyride, take a listen to the Los Ángeles album. If you don't fall in love with this enigma after a few listens, then ... drinks on us!