Story

Edith Tamayo

When Edith Tamayo moved from Sinaloa, Mexico to Copenhagen some time ago, the continental music scene surely gained something valuable.   It’s been a long road though.    Edith Tamayo was born in 1972 in Culiacan Sinaloa, Mexico. Her father, a teacher from the highlands of Jalisco, and her homemaker mother from a peasant family in Sinaloa Badiraguato, both came from families with a strong sense of social and political justice. From the earliest childhood on, Edith heard the stories about the Mexican revolution, along with the innummerable and lively tales and legends of ghosts and lost souls – told to her by the grandmother Carlota who lived her whole life on the small ranch of El Beco, at the foot of the rocky mountains of Peñascote, where during the Revolution, the legend says, thirty mules loaded with silver and gold were thrown into the crevice. Those stories blended perfectly with the folk music Edith grew up with – the typical Sinaloa sound of trumpets, clarinets and tubas, the accordion dance music from the North of Mexico – the polkas and schottisches, and the long, story-telling songs, the so-called “Corridos”.

When she was nine, the family moved to the port city of Mazatlan. Feeling lonely, Edith tried her hand in writing her first poems and songs. She would spend her days sitting at the quay of the Paseo Olas Altas, listening to the ocean waves and writing. In the evening, she would read the stuff out loud in front of the mirror. She sang all the time too, even while asleep sometimes.

At 13 she started singing in public and soon was performing at festivals. She won prizes regularly, so the media took notice, and before long she was invited to perform in many tv and radio shows.

The sixteen-year-old Edith came to an audition with the conductor Enrique Patrón de Rueda, the artistic director of a cultural festival in Sinaloa. Impressed by the girl’s talent he added her to the festival bill which included stars of Latin music like Celia Cruz and Fernando de la Mora. Soon after she went on a tour across the country, and sang boleros, huapangos and rancheras. Since her background and personal sensibility, even at a very early age, made her aware of more vulnerable social groups, she visited prisons, marginal areas and villages and sang there. At the end of the festival run, an invitation came to sing with Lola Beltrán, in front of more than 10,000 spectators. The senior colleague said that she felt she just had to introduce this new talent and called Edith “a revelation of the festival”. She assured the young singer that success was just a question of time.

 At 17, Tamayo got a scholarship to study music in the School of Fine Arts in Mexico City. It was a revelation of sorts. She remembers vividly the moment she entered the Coyoacan, the quarter where now legendary painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived – and immediately fell in love with the place: the fullness of its colours met the richness of its history. That was a whole new period of her life – she took her singing studies seriously, while at the same time continued to play gigs, even taking small parts in operas, operettas and plays.

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For a long time she dreamt about moving to Europe with the hope of getting a chance to work in some of the major theaters of Italy and Spain. Instead, she moved to Sweden, enrolled to the music school in Helsingborg, and started studying classical singing.

Every artist knows that building a career is difficult and fraught with troubles, but trying to have a carreer abroad is even more difficult. So, after a couple of years, Edith decided to return to Mexico, and got herself a job working with the chamber choir of the Opera in Mexico City. Those were rather confusing and painful years and they left a mark on both artistic and personal level. Her greatest fear was that of abandoning her beloved folk songs repertoire. The strength to keep fighting was withering slowly. Today she says that she couldn’t know at the time that what she went through was just a period of artistic and personal change. She kept hoping for a second chance.

And, in 2002, she got that chance: she left Mexico and went back to Sweden, took up again her studies at the music conservatory, and eventually returned to her first love – folk music. In 2008 she started her own group, “Latincacao” and just a year later was already nominated for the Danish World Music Award for her composition “Patita Salada”.

Releases

Release Edith Tamayo - Patita Salada

Which brings us to this album. The music on it is a proof why it’s been worth waiting a while for the Mexican singer to arrive. The songs – a mixture of traditionals and Tamayo’s material – all have a feather-light touch, airy and full of colour. Most of the largely acoustic stuff is in a life-affirming up-tempo Latin style. The guitars are bright and shimmery, and the percussions, although trimmed down, are naturally rich and present.   It seems almost as if Tamayo and her band tried to create a sort of natural blend of different Latin American styles: there are of course plenty of Mexican songs – with their instantly recognizable mariachi guitar sound and ¾ beat – but there is also a bit of salsa, a pinch of Afro-Cuban sensuality and folksy “call and response” stuff. A haunting ballad and up tempo party music, too – the band even throw in the Paraguayan classic folk tune “Galopera” – it all blends perfectly with that key-ingredient of Cuban polyrhythms which appear unexpectedly from time to time.

With a voice that is as clear as a bell (to wit: listen to her a capella rendition of the “Parabienes”), accompanied by her hot band Tamayo brings with this record a lot of joyful music and some melancholy. It’s a sound that is impossible not to move to, or not to be moved by.

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“Let me be clear. Patita Salada is an album that any lover of latin music just need to get at home”

– Review in Noborderz.nl, Holland ”

“As the previous song, Parabienes is sung accapella by a singer who knows her metier to the fingertips and shows it all. It is a singer on a very high level and with a personal expression that here debuts very convincingly”

“It is a fantastic album that grows and grows each time you hear it. Competent and captivating”

– Torben Holleufer, GAFFA (leading Danish music magazine), september 2010