Alea is a rising, La Guajira, Colombia-born and New York-based singer/songwriter, composer and musician. She attended La Colegiatura Colombiana and later Berklee College of Music.
The Colombian-born, New York-based artist’s latest album, Alborotá was released earlier this month. The album’s title is deeply personal to Alea. Alborotado(a) translates directly to rowdy, riotous, loud, disorderly; and in most of Latin America, it means being too much, too different, too sexual.
The album title Alborotá is deeply personal to Alea. Alborotado(a) translates directly to rowdy, riotous, loud, disorderly; and in most of Latin America it means being too much, too different, too sexual. Alea elaborates, “I was called an alborotada growing up by my family and friends because I was extremely driven by creativity and imagination,” the Colombian-born, New York-based artist explains. “I fought hard to keep true to this nature, but this judgment took a toll on me as a I got older, and I started to believe that I was the problem. My body was the problem, my womanhood was the problem.” She adds, “I decided it was time to redefine this word, to give it a new meaning in my life and use it as a flag that represented being free, different, independent, out spoken, equal, feminist. I named the album Alborotá because it defines who I am now and what I wish to share with others, this inner fire of strength and overcoming difficulties that liberates you and celebrates you in every way.”
Alborotá further establishes the Colombian-born artist’s unique sound and approach with the album’s 10 diverse songs that break the traditional Latin music mold while being deeply inspired by it: rooted in female and Latinx empowerment, the album’s material blends Latin folklore inspired by cumbia, porro, corrulao and huapango with pop, Afro Colombian and Latin groove. “I decided that I couldn’t let other people and the environment dictate my freedom, who I chose to love and how I decided to speak about my truths,” Alea says in press notes. “My music became a reflection of that. To be bold, fierce and unapologetic.”
Alea continues, “I wanted to write an album that spoke about my roots as a Colombian Afro-indigenous woman. So this was also an exploration of identity, one that I wasn’t close with until I moved far away and somehow labels became a permanent part of who I was. I had to honor these roots because it felt like a calling. Many dreams of spiritual encounters and re-signifying the pain of being a Latin American woman taught to be silent. With this album we explored realms of music from cumbia to currulao, from a huapango to a vallenato, from folkloric rap to ranchera music; we were bold and authentic. I’m really proud of this work. It was not an easy road, but we did it!”
Drawing from Isunza’s background of Mexican, Brazilian and Flamenco music, the tone of the album was set with an organic and authentic vibe created with only acoustic instrumentation through a highly acclaimed collection of collaborators including Latin Grammy Award winners Felipe Fournier, Luisa Bastidas and Flor de Toloache’s Jackie Coleman, as well as Latin Grammy Award nominee Sonia De Los Santos. “Among them we also featured world class artists like Renee Goust, Elena Moon Park, Jaime Ospina, Miche Molina, George Sáenz, Juan Ruiz and Kika Parra, Alea adds. “Our rhythm, our lock and groove was set by the incredible Franco Pinna on drums. We also had the help and ears of friends like Kamilo Kratc, Nacho Molina and Luis F. Herrera, who listened to mixes and gave us feedback. All arrangements were written by Sinuhé Padilla-Isunza and myself. The entire album was mastered by Grammy winner, Luis F. Herrera.”
Over the past two years, the Colombian-born, New York-based artist has been releasing singles and videos from the album, including “Échale Sal,” which was hailed as one of NPR Alt.Latino’s favorite songs of last year. Alboratá’s latest single “No Me Apaga Nadie” is a bold and defiant feminist anthem centered around a gorgeous arrangement featuring Latin and Afro-inspired percussion, strummed flamenco-styled guitar and a regal, mariachi-like horn line. And over that arrangement, Alea leads a defiant call and response vocal section. “The title refers to the fire within, the fire that you are,” Alea explains. “Not permitting anyone dim you down. It’s a call to be rebellious and free in a society where you have to claw your way in to be part of the conversation.”
streets of New York — specifically Uptown and the Lower East Side — with her homegirls. As a native New Yorker, I found the fact that she could literally dance along Delancey Street past Allen Street without anyone caring or particularly noticing anything both hilarious and very much a New York thing. But she’s also boldly taking up space with an infectious joie de vivre. We also see moments of friendship and deep affection between women, as we also follow the Colombian-born, New York-based artist help a friend hurriedly move.