When we think of music from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, bomba, plena and salsa are the genres that tend to come to mind. There is, however, so much more. Such is the case of Calma Carmona, the Spanglish-fly-girl who brought her Latin-soul power to the Apollo Music Café on Friday evening, April 8.
The indie singer-songwriter and her band delivered a set filled with feathery vocals and funky groove-infused sounds. Calma exuded an aura of confidence with an endearing coquettish sweetness. The audience was delighted by her wide-ranging influences and captivated by her charm. She may have the stylish quality of Billie Holiday with the feeling of La Lupe, but it is obvious that Calma Carmona will not be confined or restricted by any one genre. Nor should she be.
A self-proclaimed military brat, Carmona spent most of her early life between Puerto Rico, the southern United States and Germany. She found soul in Texan country music, as well as experimental German music and her Afro-Caribbean roots music. She has been in the Boricua music scene since 2007 and has worked with artists such as Velcro, Mike Towers and producers Mark Underwood and Anthony Elizo. In 2013, Calma’s EP There’s No Other Girl started making waves which eventually led to her opening for Beyonce’s “Mrs. Carter World Tour” in Puerto Rico. Last year, she released Presentiment, a more urban and experimental EP than the previous one, which is considered an exploration in space and time.
During her performance at the Apollo Music Café, Calma stated, “I speak Spanish, English and soul.” For all of us present, it was loud, proud and clear. The evening’s encore was “Fever,” a song La Lupe, the Queen of Latin Soul, popularized in the ‘60s. Calma’s rendition was just as explosive and brought the house down! She may be as diverse as her musical influences but she is also paving the way for her own sound. We look forward to hearing more from Calma Carmona and her musical journey.