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Mariachi and Opera = Operachi

Juanita Ulloa is the high priestess of a new Latin-American sound

By Ilene Proctor
Published on LatinoLA: October 20, 2005


Mariachi and Opera = Operachi


If music is the universal language, then mariachi is its Latin accent. And no one speaks the language more brilliantly than Juanita Ulloa.

Juanita Ulloa is the high priestess of Operachi, a new Latin-American sound that?s headily contagious combining classical opera mixed with a meringue of traditional mariachi rhythms. When Juanita created Operachi, she set the scene for the tide of creative irreverence that is now setting the Latin musical world afire. Her music is an in-your-face fusion of classical stylings and contemporary harmonies.

Because Juanita is master of the mariachi medium, she doesn?t have to sweat the test of tradition. She is free to play with new rhythms, sounds and ideas. She has an excellent knowledge of music history, and her musical inspirations ricochet from Debussy to Leonard Bernstein to Augustine Lara to Maria Grever. For those in the know, Juanita Ulloa is one of the most gifted mariachi singers ever. Therefore, there is nothing quite as vivid or startling as coming across Juanita?s latest album, her sixth, ?PAZ Y ALEGRIA?, as if a hummingbird has just lit upon your finger.

As an artist it is not enough to say that Juanita Ulloa is intuitive. With ?PAZ Y ALEGRIA? she sings of a peace and joy that embraces all religion, and the way she transforms those words of spiritual wisdom into art makes Juanita the Callas of contemporary music. Juanita makes all of her lyrics seem like part of her emotional biography, drawing out a note until it seems exhausted, then punctuating it with a lyrical catch in her throat that sounds like the small sobs of a strong woman, or sometimes it is closer to the full-throttle glottal attack of a Linda Ronstadt.

Sometimes Juanita slows down the tempo, teases out the vowel sounds, adds a huapango twist of a rhythm from Mexico or a fandango beat from Spain, or the big band sound from the forties, or a fiery Lando rhythm from the Afro-Peruvian culture. Surely, this is the best of the best of both worlds.

Juanita?s story is filled with daring do, determination, hard work and much magic. She has spent her life shuttling between two languages.

Born in North America into a bi-cultural American Panamanian family, Juanita was raised in several Hispanic countries including Mexico, Spain and Panama. She earned her music degrees at Yale and UC Berkeley, received trainings at the Nice Conservatory in France. Her tours have become an international institution, a traveling cultural icon that symbolizes eclectic musicianship and communal cross-generational joy. She has toured the world with wildly acclaimed solo performances in Spain, as well as Peru and Mexico. But, it was Mexico that captured her heart. Embracing Mexico?s rich musical history, she has walked a cultural fault line, performing ranchera songs, ballads and boleros in her own unique vocal style.

After her first taste of circus-cannon celebrity, Juanita decided to leave something more substantial than breadcrumbs behind her to mark her way back home, the result was Juanita?s last and most lauded album ?Mujeres & Mariachi? a profoundly moving homage to Mexico?s pioneering female composers. Her admiration runs deep, as she herself takes an active voice in representing women?s feeling within the medium.

Juanita?s ambition has always been to be a bridge between the United States and Latin America. In the final analysis, the bridge has spanned the world. Juanita is not only a superstar, but a superpower.

In a show business that relentlessly markets materialism, she makes room for heart and wit and spirituality. It?s the audience?s fortune that she has made that place a room for the entire world to share.

In ?Paz Y Alegria?, there?s buoyancy and vitality, musical variety and lyric craftsmanship in an endlessly listenable CD. Virtually every track has the liquid warmth of a kiss under the mistletoe. Her new album sparkles like a Christmas display at Tiffany.

Juanita?s last album ?Mujeres y Mariachi- a homage to women gained worldwide critical acclaim. ? This is a perfect combination of songs that seduces any and all.
Juanita Ulloa's voice definitely transports one to their deepest inner feelings, embarking on a new experience that no one will want to miss. I am convinced that it's more than simple interpretation-it's a gift for your soul that evokes a pure and total sense of love.?

"When I want to go deep into my Mexican roots I listen to Juanita Ulloa's voice. It's a privilege to allow ourselves to be seduced by her voice ? it allows us to relax and celebrate amongst each other. It keeps me from being lonely. Whether I am in Mexico or the USA I'm at home listening to Juanita!" ? Juan Barragan, News Anchor, Univision KDTV-TV Azteca-El Universal.

To listen to Juanita?s music: visit http://www.juanitamusic.com


About Ilene Proctor:
Press Contact: Ilene Proctor or Angus Hsu
Direct Line: (310) 271.5857
Cell: (310) 721.2336
E-mail: proctor@artnet.net





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