Nuevo-flamenco singing sensation Buika may never live down the time she took a job in Las Vegas as a Tina Turner impersonator. Today, though, if you come to one of her shows expecting her to sound like anyone other than herself, you'll be disappointed. While listeners do say they hear echoes of Chaka Khan and Nina Simone in her voice, the force behind it is purely, unmistakably Buika.
Concha Buika was born to African parents in Mallorca, Spain, where she grew up in a Roma (aka Gypsy) neighborhood. Like her family, her music has migrated too—from flamenco to fado, hip-hop to house, ranchera to R&B—sometimes dipping into many styles at once. One might legitimately wonder if she's been searching for her sound; but it's just that the petite, bird-like beauty is an artist too tall for labels.
Her most recent album, El Ultimo Trago (2009), is a tribute to the sexually defiant, gun-toting ranchera singer Chavela Vargas. Don't let that fool you: Buika still sounds like no other. Just named one of NPR's 50 great voices, this is Buika's first major North American tour. —Sylvia Pfeiffenberger
Editor's note: The 7-7:30 p.m. preshow discussion about Buika with critic Sylvia Pfeiffenberger has been moved to Room 3118 on the third floor of Talley Student Center.