Noa (born Achinoam Nini in Tel Aviv, Israel, 54 years old), a singer with powerful vocal faculties influenced by jazz and—she herself assures—flamenco, wonders what it is that keeps her united to Spain and its culture. since the beginning of his artistic career, 30 years ago. “Perhaps it is the Sephardic roots, so deep here? Maybe it’s all the incredible Spanish literature, poetry, music and art that have inspired me so much? Or will it be the love that I felt from the Spanish public from the first day of my career until today? Or the many friends I’ve made? Of course, collaborations with great artists are a big part, but I feel like it goes way beyond that. It is about a love story with Spain, with all the complexity and ups and downs that a deep, long and intense relationship entails ”, she ventures to explain.
Thus begins an interview with this singer of Sephardic origins who is so popular in our country —prior to her only two dates this summer in Spain (on Monday, August 14 at the Tío Pepe Festival in Jerez de la Frontera and on the 20th, at the Starlite Marbella)— which claims to deal with music, but which inevitably delves into social and political issues after the great popular revolts this July —the largest and most massive in the 75-year history of the State of Israel— against the reform of the judicial system raised by the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which seriously compromises the impartiality of the magistrates and is interpreted as an attack on democracy and the separation of powers.
Noa appeals to her union with Spain: “I appeal to the Spanish Royal House, the Government of this country and the Spanish people to support the Israeli people who fight for democracy, equality and freedom, and avoid this Government evil, dishonest and dangerous, threatening our very existence. Let them know your opinion, there are many ways to do it. We need you, Spain ”, he assured in the interview with EL PAÍS, by email last Thursday, on the eve of his trip to Jerez de la Frontera.
It is, without a doubt, the longest, most belligerent and firm answer of all those that mark out the questionnaire, faithful to the convictions of this singer who has never renounced positioning herself politically and has fought so hard through music and art for the end of the conflict Israeli-Palestinian. “Israel is facing the worst crisis in its history. Our country has been hijacked by a gang of corrupt politicians, some, like Netanyahu, desperate to avoid prosecution for crimes they have been accused of by the very state they dishonestly claim to serve and lead ‘fairly’ (emphasize quotes), along with accused criminals, extremists, supporters of terrorism, messianizing fanatics, and opportunists. They came to power democratically by a slim margin, but have been hell-bent on destroying Israel’s democracy ever since,” he writes harshly. “The so-called judicial reform presented by this ultra-right, ultra-nationalist, religious and fanatical coalition is nothing more than a dictatorship coup, and if carried out, it will lead to Israel’s demise as the beautiful state we know today.”
Audience attending the Tío Pepe Festival.JUAN CARLOS TORO
All his musical background makes Noa’s eclectic style, aimed at an audience cultivated in the international musical heritage but without renouncing popular culture, impossible to fit into a genre: “I always refer to Duke Ellington when they ask me about this. He said that there are only two types of music, the good and the rest.
However, the singer, who has actively participated in the protests — “marching, singing, speaking, writing, raising my voice, as I have done for years for the causes I believe in,” she says — is excited after the spectacular popular reaction to the measure adopted by the Government. “The public uprising is massive and inspiring! My broken heart fills with hope when I see the power of the people, and I truly hope that this crisis, once resolved, will lead to a profound rethinking of the essence and values of our country. When we have got rid of this wicked Government; Solidified and strengthened our democracy with the Constitution we lack, we must end the occupation of the Palestinian people, establish a state alongside our own, work tirelessly for peace with all our neighbors, and redress the deep-rooted inequality in our society. It is not impossible, but we need help from our friends, including Spain, ”she questions.
With this combative attitude, firm but serene and “loaded with love”, Noa arrives in Jerez on Monday, within the framework of a highly singular festival that is held in the hundred-year-old facilities of the González Byass winery in the city of Cádiz and which will put the Yemeni singer the final point to a date that has seen great international names, from a living legend like Tom Jones (also Raphael in a sort of national translation) to timeless classics like American musicians Ben Harper and Pat Metheny.
It might seem, taking into account the rest of the festival’s programming, that Noa is presented with a concert that invites nostalgia or, at least, to look back —titled Best of Noa (The best of Noa)—. However, the Yemeni artist is surprised by this consideration: “Honestly, I don’t have such a romantic idea of this recital in mind. I’m not nostalgic and I don’t waste time looking back either. I am a woman of the present: simply, I love what I do and I do what I love”.
With his voice, tuned to instrumental perfection, he will interpret well-known jazz standards in his two Spanish dates and part of the tribute to Johan Sebastian Bach that he dedicated to him on one of his latest albums, such as Beautiful That Way, in its Spanish version (which no one fears, “of course I’m going to sing in Spanish,” he assures), a theme composed for the film La vida es bella. There will also be a space dedicated to the immortal pieces of jazz that he brought together in his work Afterallogy, with classics such as My Funny Valentine, Anything Goes or Oh, Lord, which will be played in the Jerez winery’s Patio de la Tonelería, a space that stands on the center of Jerez since 1835.
“I have had some of the most intense, difficult and beautiful experiences of my life on this earth, so I am deeply grateful, but also excited to be here,” says Noa, who considers herself indebted to flamenco as a fundamental part of her musical learning. . “I learned a lot about Andalusia from artists I have listened to for years, like Camarón de la Isla, Lole y Manuel and many others. I adore flamenco”, acknowledges this artist who fills her conversation with names such as Miguel Poveda, Marina Heredia, David Peña Dorantes and Pasión Vega, all related to Andalusia and flamenco, as well as Cristina Heeren, a well-known North American patron established in the Andalusian capital, where she leads a foundation dedicated to the study of flamenco art: “I visit her a lot in Seville, she is my godmother in flamenco.”
Noa returns to Spain with her inseparable guitarist Gil Dor, an arranger, composer and producer who has accompanied her since its inception. “It’s been 30 years since we met, but we haven’t stopped learning together. We are still good friends. Now we’re doing a lot of spontaneous songwriting, a unique kind of real-time, freestyle improvisation, a stream of consciousness that’s very exciting,” she explains.
Tío Pepe Festival, music inside a winery
Unlike other similar festivals aimed at an adult audience, with high purchasing power, which together with the concerts carry a broader experience focused on gastronomy and, in this case, the dissemination of wine culture, Tío Pepe Festival It is not an appointment of the so-called boutique festivals. At least that’s what its director, Beatriz Vergara, believes, in turn leading the wine tourism division of the González Byass winery. “We prefer to call it ‘unique’. Unlike other festivals, which find a space and adapt it to mount a festival, we adapt a festival to mount it inside a winery, in this case also with almost two centuries of history: it is the differentiating element that gives us an identity ” , Explain.
Around 30,000 people, according to data provided by the organization, will have passed through the Tío Pepe Festival in this edition when Noa draws the curtain this Monday, figures that are divided between its two stages: the original one in the Patio de la Tonelería —with capacity for 1,500 people— and a larger location —2,500— in the most modern Bodega Las Copas owned by the same company. “We have always grown little by little,” says Vergara, who already has her sights set on celebrating the tenth anniversary of the festival, scheduled for 2024. “We increased the number of spaces as a result of the pandemic, because we could only offer 70% capacity, until we saw that we could consolidate the two proposals, both with a special architecture and concept.
It coincides with the boutique festivals in its attraction for the adult public, the boomer generation, which has become a regular at this type of summer event that combines concerts and musical activities with other proposals. “Some people come every year because they like the experience and, from there, they choose the concert to go to. Not the other way around, ”he assures. Even so, the configuration of his lineup, where “not only are there very commercial artists, but it is made up of big consolidated names and proven backgrounds in many genres”, attracts mostly boomers.
Tío Pepe Festival completes its musical offer —the cycle of great figures is complemented by another flamenco and a third stand-up comedy— with Las cenas de las estrellas, where González Byass wines are paired with the menu of different guest restaurants with Michelin star, as well as the possibility of staying in the annex hotel also owned by the winery company.
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