.Latin Grammy Winner Nella Comes to Montalvo Arts Center

Nella Rojas tours the U.S. after the release of 'Doce Margaritas'

“I feel like lately every concert is very emotional… como a flor de piel,” says Venezuelan songstress Nella Rojas. 

Revered for her harmonic voice, heartfelt lyrics and inimitable stage presence, the Andalusian-influenced singer is currently touring the US following the release of her critically acclaimed LP, Doce Margaritas. In recent years, the powerhouse singer-songwriter has sold out venues in her home country of Venezuela, as well as in Mexico, Spain, the UK and US.

While Nella’s career trajectory may seem meteoric, the charismatic venezolana’s ascendance began more than a decade ago. Leaving behind her home island of Margarita at 17 to pursue her dreams, the singer-songwriter was a shoo-in at Berklee College of Music, one of America’s preeminent music colleges. There, Nella experimented with various genres, searching for the one that best suited her voice and vision.

Growing up, the artist was enamored with pop acts with impressive vocal ranges, like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, but was always drawn to Andalusian folk music for its “realness.”

“I’ve always loved singing different genres, but I’ve always been respectful in the way I go about it. For example, I don’t think you can sing Bossa Nova like you would sing a song by Mariah Carey. I think you have to be respectful and never lose your identity,” Nella says.

At Berklee, she formed her first band, Sudacas, along with Brazilian bass player Eduardo, and guitarist Esther, from Colombia. The trio created works that melded their favorite elements of music from their home countries with jazz and pop.

After some success, the artist was recruited by a friend to sing a Venezuelan merengue at his recital. Nella sang “La Negra Atilia”—an extremely complex, melodic song. She would sing it at many of her earliest concerts following the positive reception at the recital. It was at one of these concerts that Spanish producer-songwriter Javier Limón met Nella. Limón encouraged the singer to continue to sing Andulusian-style music, saying it would ultimately set her apart from her peers.

Since then, the two have continued to collaborate, creating Andalusian-pop-flamenco music that reinvents traditional Venezuelan and Andalusian folk for a modern audience.

“I don’t do traditional Venezuelan music, but Venezuela is always present in my music—whether that be in the lyrics, a song’s message, rhythms or the instruments. It’s always present,” she says.

Andalusian folk music requires minimal production. Rarely is it heard with more than a vocalist and a guitar. The unfiltered nature of the music is what Nella says she enjoys most about making it.

“The Andalusian style of music, and flamenco, are such visceral ways of singing and connecting in such an honest and human way. That’s what continues to attract me,” she says.

The artist is inspired by jazz-folk group Monsieur Periné and Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade, who are spearheading a movement in Latin American music that elevates traditional folk music with contemporary production and modern twists. 

“I think people love that—the honesty between the singer and the audience…it’s very well-needed,” says the songstress.

Nella signed with Sony after winning the Latin GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist in 2019. Following a pandemic-related performance hiatus, she is now touring her latest album—a heart-rending, unfettered amalgamation of Andalusian folklore and vibrant pop music. 

Recently, she has delved back into songwriting, building a catalog of collaborative cuts with artists from across the Latin American music sphere, songs with more experimental genre-hopping along with elements of jazz and R&B—two genres which she particularly loves.

Her latest performances in New York have left her in tears, she shares. 

“But I see everyone crying along with me at the shows and being so supportive and it’s a beautiful thing.”

She looks forward to bringing a similarly emotional experience to Saratoga. 

“The way I feel right now, it’s a mixture of many things—the feeling of writing again, of singing these songs in front of a crowd and remembering the place I was when I wrote them, emotionally and physically. … It has all felt so overwhelming, but it’s been so beautiful.”

Nella

Thu, 7:30pm, $65+

Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga

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