Gaby Moreno’s songs evoke a vista of an era long gone

Gaby Moreno.

Gaby Moreno.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Gaby Moreno’s songs evoke a vista of an era long gone

Listening to Gaby Moreno singing for a sound check is a dreamy experience. Her light girlish voice transports you to an airy, fantasy world of once upon a time.

And just when you think, you could get used to that mellow frame of mind, she switches to Spanish and sounds surprisingly different — huskier, deeper, stronger — testament to her amazing range.

Ask her if it’s the mother tongue influence and she shrugs, brushing back a mop of curly hair. “I am constantly being told I sound different when I sing in English and Spanish. I’m still trying to figure it out,” she says with an easygoing smile.

Gaby was in India at the request of the Guatemalan Embassy in Delhi for the 198th Independence Day celebrations of that nation. Since it was her first visit to the country she packed in a few more stops and played at the Windmills when in Bengaluru.

Gaby started quite young, making her debut at the age of 9 in her hometown of Guatemala. “By the time I was 10 I was singing all over the place. I even opened for Ricky Martin!” she says with undisguised glee.

She used to take singing lessons as a child, but they were classical in nature, almost operatic in style. “I could the high notes with ease. Then, I discovered the blues and decided — ‘This is what I want’. Artistes like Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and BB King became my teachers,” she says with an impish grin.

“I would play their records over and over. Through them I learnt how one could have a wider voice range and not just be limited to the choral.”

Gaby left for Los Angeles at the age of 19 and was signed by a label. Ten years ago, she independently produced her first album, ‘Still The Unknown’. To her surprise, it landed in the hands of Tracy Chapman who invited Gaby to tour along with her.

“It was like a dream come true; she was one of my idols growing up and I had never toured before that either. Sadly, that was the last time she toured,” says Gaby talking about her first big break.

Her star has been on the rise since. Indian audiences who may not have heard of her, would definitely recollect a recent mobile phone ad featuring a little bird and a whimsical soundtrack. That is Gaby’s ‘Daydream by design’ from her album Illustrated Songs.

Songs like ‘Illusion’ are a throwback to a wonderful old world of charm most have only read about. “The 30s and 40s, up to perhaps the late 60s were my favourite period in time and I was heavily influenced by the music of that era,” she says, adding, “For me the music and melody come first. The lyrics are not autobiographical. Rather, ideas in my head take the shape of stories and they get set to music later.”

Apart from touring across Europe this year, Gaby is ecstatic about her collaboration with Van Dyke Parks. “He has worked with the Beach Boys and Ringo Starr as well as contemporary artistes like U2,” she says gleefully. Their album Spangled released on October 4 on all digital platforms.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 1:46:31 PM |

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