Be prepared for something big when Malena Perez debut album Stars will be released next month. It’s a fantastic musically varied album and Malena is a real sweet person who flew to California to make some new photos specially for jazz-not-jazz…ha ha, not really but she provided me with some new photos. And look for the new 12″ single Praise The Day coming this month. It will feature the original version Malena did with Osunlade, as well as a dub remix version that Osunlade did himself.
In her jazz-not-jazz interview Malena talks about her musical background, how she met the musicians involved on Stars, her own label Cubanita Groove Records and much more.
Q: Please tell me something about yourself. We are you coming from musically? Who has influenced you?
Malena Pérez: Wow. I guess I would have to say that I’ve been inspired by Life itself! My mother and father both surrounded me with music growing up. And on a personal level, I’ve been through some really difficult experiences that have found peace and a welcome place in my songs. There is nothing like the different facets of the human experience to inspire poetry or lyrics! Over the past several years I’ve been listening to Amel Larrieux’s solo albums, Fertile Ground (fronted by Navasha Daya, who I have so much respect for!), Jill Scott, Minnie Riperton, Eva Cassidy, Everything But the Girl, Flora Purim (who I actually got to meet at Temple Bar in Sta. Monica last fall - such a surreal experience!), and deep house music like the Naked Music albums (i.e., Blue Six/Beautiful Tomorrow). I also love Kyoto Jazz Massive. I’ve always been inspired by Latin women who have set the standard for quality vocals and really know how to express emotion through their art - Gloria Estefan’s Mi Tierra album is amazing!…Celia Cruz, Omara Portuondo, Cesaria Evora, Astrud Gilberto, Susana Baca…these women have been and will continue to inspire me musically. I also have significant choral training in liturgical music, which is why those (I’ve been told “angelic” - and perhaps prayerful) qualities of my voice are sometimes really evident. I really just never feel more free than when I am singing, and I feel that I am continually given messages of love and healing to share with others!
Q: You sing in English and Spanish. I wonder if you also speak German. After all your mother is German. Did your parents raised you speaking three languages? And how important were your parents for your decision to pursue a career as musican?
Malena Pérez: I was raised speaking English and Spanish, both of which I am fluent in. When I was little, my Cuban grandmother - my “Abuela Elsa” - kept me during the weekdays when my parents were at work, and she spoke to me only in Spanish. And I can speak some Mandarin Chinese - but not German! My parents never pushed me toward one career or another, though I have to say that my mother has been extremely supportive of my decision to pursue my passion and calling to share these gifts. I think she always “knew” that I would end up on a creative path. And my father is an avid lover of music, so I guess I get that from him! I definitely have my mother’s entrepreneurial spirit and couldn’t be happier pursuing what I love to do and helping others in the process.