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Perla Batalla is a Grammy-nominated vocalist, composer and arranger who first gained international attention as a backup singer for Leonard Cohen before embarking on a solo career at the latter's encouragement.
Early life and education
Of Mexican ancestry, Batalla was born in Los Angeles. Her father was a mariachi musician and owned a popular Spanish language record store. Her mother is from South America.
Batalla released her debut CD, Perla Batalla, on the Warner/Discovery label to great critical success.
Like many original artists, Batalla opted to go independent early on, releasing her second album, "Mestiza" (meaning of mixed blood) on her own Mechuda Music label. "Heaven and Earth" followed, completing the Mestiza song-cycle. Both CDs were co-written with David Batteau. They offer a vision of a vibrant culture still nourished and inhabited by mysticism, imagery, magic and myth. Amazon named Mestiza Best Independent Release of the year.
Discoteca Batalla, 2002
"Discoteca Batalla" was Perla’s follow-up album to the Mestiza song cycle. An innovative undertaking of contagious rhythm and pure joy, it was recorded in 2002 as an homage to her parents' record shop of the same name. Discoteca Batalla is a compilation of new compositions interspersed with pristine treatments of traditional Spanish language classics arranged to reflect Perla’s rich bi-cultural personal and musical heritage. In 2004 Perla was invited by The Kennedy Center to perform songs from the album as artist in residence.
Bird on the Wire, 2007
Batalla’s 2007 tribute to Cohen, titled "Bird on the Wire" (also nominated for a Grammy), was embraced by diehard Cohen fans and critics alike. Sing Out magazine's Michael Tearson wrote: “Beautifully conceived and executed, Bird on the Wire is a rewarding listening experience I find myself returning to frequently. It is every bit the equal of Jennifer Warnes' classic Cohen tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat. For those uninitiated to the glories of the songs of Leonard Cohen this is a wonderful introduction. For the rest of us it is simply heavenly.”
Gracias a la Vida, 2008
Her next release, "Gracias a la Vida", in 2008, is her anthology of traditional South American songs inspired by a heart-awakening trip to meet her Argentine family. The results are a great introduction to early Argentine tango-song.
We Three Kings 2010
In keeping with the annual tradition of recording a holiday song with her daughter, in 2010 Batalla released a first collection of favored holiday songs titled "We Three Kings." (Chosen as KCRW's top tune for Christmas.) Including "Love is Everything", "The Nearness of You", "The Very Thought of You" and "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square".
Adventures of Women Surrealists in Mexico and USA
In 2011 she was commissioned by LACMA to compose and perform an original composition to celebrate the opening of "The Adventures of Women Surrealists in Mexico and the U.S."
Batalla and songwriting partner Batteau are building that spark of an idea into a full-length theatrical concert called “Blue House.” This original song cycle is inspired by the frescos, canvasses and private journals of two of the most important Mexican painters of the twentieth century, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The show explores the passion and process of these two rare creative geniuses, framed by a fearless love affair charged with ego, agony, betrayal and devotion. “Blue House” is many things, but most of all, a love letter to art itself.
Batalla’s concert film appearances in Hal Wilner’s Cohen tribute, “I'm Your Man”, and featured a cast that included Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Antony, and Teddy and Linda Thompson. The Spanish film Acordes con Leonard Cohen had Perla sharing the stage in Barcelona with Jackson Browne and John Cale. Batalla has worked on the other side of the camera as well, arranging and musical directing comedic vocal scenes for Will Ferrell’s “Stepbrothers”. Ms. Batalla has also been brought in as a hired gun by the studios as vocal coach/miracle worker for a various actors, including Jeremy Piven of HBO’s Entourage.
Batalla’s mission of honoring her roots and exposing young audiences to the beauty of music and the Spanish language is ongoing in her outreach endeavors throughout some of the under-served communities in the US. She received the United Nations Earth Charter Award for extraordinary devotion to social and economic justice. She is also the recipient of Border Book Festivals’, Premio Fronterizo Award for healing work in the world.
- Perla Batalla (1993)
- Mestiza (1999)
- Heaven and Earth (2000)
- Discoteca Batalla (2002)
- Gracias a la Vida (2004)
- Bird On The Wire: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen (2007)
- Love is Everything (2014)
- World Festival of Sacred Music - the Americas, Los Angeles (2000)
- Selected Artists: World Festival of Sacred Music - Los Angeles (2002)
- The Napa Valley Opera House - Napa, CA (2003)
- Univ of Hawaii, Manoa, HI (2003)
- Prospect Park - Brooklyn, NY (2003)
- Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003)
- The Getty Center - L.A., CA (2003)
- The Knitting Factory - NYC (2004)
- Joe's Pub - NYC (2004)
- Satalla - NYC (2004)
- The Brighton Dome - Brighton England (2004)
- The Kennedy Center - Washington, D.C. (2004)
- UCLA, Royce Hall - Los Angeles (2004)
- Riverside Municipal Auditorium - (w/Los Lobos) (2004)
- Big Top Chautauqua - Bayfield Wisconsin (2004)
- The Hothouse - Chicago, Illinois (2004)
- The Sydney Opera House - Sydney Australia (2006)
- L.A. County Museum of Art (2006)
- Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man OST (2006)
- NEW RELEASES. Holston, Mark // Hispanic; Jan/Feb2001, Vol. 14 Issue 1/2, p86 Reviews several music recordings by Latin American musicians. `Heaven and Earth,' performed by Perla Batalla; `Beveled Facets,' performed by Ruben Gutierrez; `Movimiento Perpetuo,' performed by Sentidos Opuestos.
- Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen. Tearson, Michael // Sing Out; Summer2006, Vol. 50 Issue 2, p128 Reviews the folk music release "Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen," by Perla Batalla.