Eme Alfonso
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Eme Alfonso

Madrid, Castille and León, Spain | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Madrid, Castille and León, Spain | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Latin Soul

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It is difficult not to be drawn to Eme (M)’s music, which can be described as a fusion of her strongest influences—R & B, jazz, experimental pop plus the more Cuban folkloric, son and filin styles. The fact that she looks absolutely gorgeous doesn’t hurt. So the prospect of sitting down with her last month for a bite to eat and a glass of wine in one of Havana’s best new paladares (Rio Mar) was an appealing proposition.

Eme comes in without fuss, looking as gorgeous (if a little more natural) than in her music videos. And there she is sitting across the table; I have to talk her into having a glass of wine rather than a beer – better for the image. And then she is off, a quiet and tranquila person she may be but she talks with a determined and appealing confidence, drawing you in with a natural charm and refreshing lack of pretension. If this is what all-pop stars in Cuba are like I want in.

Indeed, despite being from one of the most distinguished musical families in Cuba she does not consider herself a pop-star. While the long shadow cast from her brother, X Alfonso, may be a shame given the brilliance and beauty of her own music, it has also led her to deliberately find her own way, to rebel by choosing a quieter life, less of a locura, more control, more deliberation.

Her affection for X and her parents is apparent, anecdotes told with charm and life. Although as a soloist she is new, her professional début was at barely 14 years old when she joined Síntesis and shared a stage not just with her famous parents and brother, but with other Cuban music royalty such as Chucho Valdés and Pablo Milanés. At the age of seven she was sent to the prestigious music conservatory named for the great Cuban composer Alejandro García-Caturla, where she studied piano and singing.

Now at 25 years old she is making significant waves here in Havana. M has released 2 albums, Señales (2008) and more recently Eme (2012), which can be described as a fusion of her strongest influences—R & B, jazz, experimental pop plus the more Cuban folkloric, son and filin styles. Havana Cultura describes her as someone who never seems to stop Metamorphosing: “one moment she's all smoke and soul like a Cuban Angie Stone, and the next she's Macy Gray belting out Trova poetry”.

Her biggest confession is that actually she was named Madonna although the name never stuck and back she is with Eme (M):

“The idea of names with letters comes from my grandfather. Grandma was on L St. and she was in labor. My mother was almost born in the ambulance. She was assisted there and was almost born on L St. My granddad saw L St and he named my mom “Ele”. Luckily she wasn’t born on Obrapía or any other street in Old Havana… with the weird names, it would’ve been disastrous. Ele is quite a nice name. My mom continued with the tradition with X for Equis and Eme for me… I confess my name is not Eme I was named after a pop star: Madonna Not even my grandma calls me that and I don’t really like the name… because I have nothing to do with the singer, although I like her music.”

The afternoon progresses and although she talks about her role in a video as “a girl who’s lost in the world, trying to create a surreal world…” I am left with the feeling that this is a performer who knows both where she is going and where she is from. - Cuba Absolutely


All month, World Cafe invites listeners to discover the music of Havana, Cuba with the series Sense of Place.

"I always try to find art in everything I do, because I believe in music as a way of life. For me it's like a game, to mix everything I learn with my roots."

Eme Alfonso's roots are with a renowned family of Cuban musicians, at whose urging she began studying music at age 7. Now, she's already been nominated for a Latin Grammy as part of Síntesis, a jazz-fusion and Latin folklore act with whom she's traveled worldwide. Alfonso's 2008 solo debut Señales ("Signs") won the Cubadisco award for best Cuban fusion album. Its follow-up, Eme, explores jazz, funk, R&B and Latin and Cuban soundscapes; the album's compositions hinge on Alfonso's warm and moving vocals.

In today's World Cafe session, recorded in Havana, host David Dye treats listeners to a soulful live performance by Alfonso from the Bertolt Brecht Theater. The young singer then speaks with Dye about her Cubadisco award and the doors it opened to her, her musical influences (jazz, soul and Tears for Fears), and the relationship between Cuba's government and Cuban music and arts. - National Public Radio (US)


Her given name is M (sometimes written Eme) and it works for her. M, as in Mega-talented, Musically gifted. She's a singer and composer who never seems to stop Metamorphosing. If you listen to her two albums, Eme (2012) and Señales (2008), one moment she's all smoke and soul like a Cuban Angie Stone, and the next she's Macy Gray belting out Trova poetry.

M was born in 1986 in Havana's Playa district, where she still lives with her parents. Her surname, Alfonso, links her to the Cuban music dynasty her parents started in the mid-1970s and her brother expanded in the 1990s. Síntesis, as the family's experimental pop band was (and is) called, began as a Cuban echo of the "progressive rock" sounds filling stadiums in Europe and North America. Síntesis went on to pretty much invent the music that Cubans today call fusion. M's mother, Ele Valdés, plays keyboards and her father, Carlos Alfonso, plays guitar, and both of them sing. M's brother, X Alfonso, joined the band in the 1990s at a time when Síntesis was incorporating hip hop, trip hop, electro and other new sounds into a repertoire that managed to remain distinctly Cuban.

"I started making music when I was very young. I was always watching [my parents] on stage, singing along," M says. "I always knew that's what I wanted to do." At the age of 7 she was sent to the prestigious music conservatory named for the great Cuban composer Alejandro García-Caturla, where she studied piano and singing. She had her professional début at 14 when she joined Síntesis and shared a stage not just with her famous parents and brother, but with other Cuban music royalty such as Chucho Valdés and Pablo Milanés.

Given all this, the musical influences she cites on her Facebook page come as something of a surprise: Tears for Fears, Portishead, Tricky, Bjork, Elis Regina, Fiona Apple, Ella Fitzgerald.

Tears for Fears? "My music is a mix – fusion," she says politely. "A little jazz, Cuban music, funky, soul, all mashed together, no? I also like Trova a lot. The lyrics, the poetry. All of that mixed up."

In other words, M Alfonso would be a marketing executive's nightmare if marketing executives were still calling the shots in the careers of singular artists like M Alfonso. As it stands now, her music speaks for itself, powerfully: "The product that comes out – I don't know. It's whatever you like to listen to. I don't define it. I don't have a word that defines my music." Perhaps not, but we're betting such a word would begin with an M. - Havana Cultura


La música cubana es quizá, junto a la brasileña, una de las más ricas en cuanto a sonoridades y riqueza de influencias. Su interés está fuera de tota duda para el melómano más inquieto. Lo que no es tan habitual es que lleguen a nuestros lares artistas de música Soul como la reciente Chila Lynn o nuestro último descubrimiento: la inclasificable Eme Alfonso. - Soul Spain


Eme Alfonso (Havana, 1986) comes from a renowned family of Cuban musicians. She started her music studies at the age of 7, and 7 years later she started her professional career.

She has travelled all around the world as a member of Síntesis, the band with which she was nominated for a Latin Grammy and shared the stage with artists such as Chucho Valdés, Pablo Milanés or Audio Slave. In the Peace Without Borders Concert, in Havana 2009, she sang in front of one million people, sharing stage with Juanes and Miguel Bosé.

Composer of her songs, this young singer and pianist started her solo career in 2008 with the album “Señales” (“Signs”), awarded with the Cubadisco as best Cuban fusion album. As a solo singer she has worked with artists such as Silvio Rodríguez, Omara Portuondo, Cool and the Gang or Florence K.

Her new album “Eme” will be released in the middle of 2012. In this album she had worked with the collaboration of his brother X Alfonso, Pedro Luis Ferrer, “el Ruzzo” from Orishas, Diana Fuentes and Harold López Nussa, amongst another ones.

In “Eme”, Eme Alfonso explores many rhythms and spreads her sensual voice from a Soul base with contributions from Jazz, Funk, R&B and Cuban and Latin music, becoming consolidated as the most important Cuban Soul composer and singer nowadays.

Her beautiful voice, her musical quality and her elegance on the stage will leave no good music lover indifferent.

Performances: Havana-Jazz Festival (Dec11, Havana), Havana-Film Festival (Apr12, NY), Sonorama-Ribera (Aug12, Madrid), Afrika-Karibik Festival (Sep12, Frankfurt). - Eme Alfonso Official


Eme Alfonso (Havana, 1986) comes from a renowned family of Cuban musicians. She started her music studies at the age of 7, and 7 years later she started her professional career.

She has travelled all around the world as a member of Síntesis, the band with which she was nominated for a Latin Grammy and shared the stage with artists such as Chucho Valdés, Pablo Milanés or Audio Slave. In the Peace Without Borders Concert, in Havana 2009, she sang in front of one million people, sharing stage with Juanes and Miguel Bosé.

Composer of her songs, this young singer and pianist started her solo career in 2008 with the album “Señales” (“Signs”), awarded with the Cubadisco as best Cuban fusion album. As a solo singer she has worked with artists such as Silvio Rodríguez, Omara Portuondo, Cool and the Gang or Florence K.

Her new album “Eme” will be released in the middle of 2012. In this album she had worked with the collaboration of his brother X Alfonso, Pedro Luis Ferrer, “el Ruzzo” from Orishas, Diana Fuentes and Harold López Nussa, amongst another ones.

In “Eme”, Eme Alfonso explores many rhythms and spreads her sensual voice from a Soul base with contributions from Jazz, Funk, R&B and Cuban and Latin music, becoming consolidated as the most important Cuban Soul composer and singer nowadays.

“Alguien me detenga” (“Somebody stop me”) is the first single of her new album. Its music video received thousands of visits during the first days on YouTube. The song surrounds us with delicate Latin-American airs that give away her deliciousness for music and her eagerness to create art in every little detail.

After her performances around Cuba, Latin America and North America, Eme will launch her album with several concerts in Europe 2012.

Her beautiful voice, her musical quality and her elegance on the stage will leave no good music lover indifferent. - MusickTV


Su nombre es M - a veces escrito Eme-, y le sienta estupendamente. M por Mega-talentosa, Musicalmente superdotada. Es una cantante y compositora que no para de Metamorfosearse. Si escuchas sus dos discos, Eme (2012) y Señales (2008), un instante es todo vapor y soul como una Angie Stone cubana y al siguiente parece Macy Gray recitando Trova.

M nació en 1986 en el distrito de Havana Playa, donde todavía vive con sus padres. Su apellido, Alfonso, la vincula a la dinastía musical cubana fundada por sus padres a mediados de los años 70 y que su hermano continuó en los 90. Síntesis, como se llamaba- y se sigue llamando- el grupo de pop experimental de su familia, comenzó como un eco cubano del llamado “rock progresista” que llenaba los estadios de Europa y Norteamérica. Síntesis prácticamente inventó lo que los cubanos llaman hoy en día “fusión”. La madre de M, Ele Valdés, toca los teclados; su padre, Carlos Alfonso, la guitarra y ambos cantan. Su hermano, X Alfonso, se unió al grupo en los 90 en una época en la que Síntesis incorporaba hip hop, trip hop, electro y otros sonidos a un repertorio que logró mantenerse distintivamente cubano.

“Yo empecé a hacer música cuando era muy joven. Siempre veía a mis padres en el escenario y cantaba con ellos”, explica M. “Siempre supe que era lo que quería hacer.” A los 7 años, fue enviada al prestigioso conservatorio que lleva el nombre del gran compositor cubano Alejandro García-Caturla, donde estudió piano y canto. Debutó profesionalmente a los 14 años cuando se unió a Síntesis y compartió el escenario no sólo con sus padres, sino también con otros miembros de la realeza musical cubana como Chucho Valdés y Pablo Milanés.

Teniendo en cuenta todo lo dicho hasta ahora, las influencias musicales que cita en su perfil de Facebook resultan sorprendentes: Tears for Fears, Portishead, Tricky, Bjork, Elis Regina, Fiona Apple, Ella Fitzgerald.

¿Tears for Fears? “Mi música es una mezcla- una fusión,” dice con educación. “Un poco de jazz, música cubana, funky, soul, todo junto, ¿no? También me gusta mucho la Trova. Los versos, la poesía. Todo eso mezclado.”

En otras palabras, M Alfonso sería la peor pesadilla de un ejecutivo de marketing si éstos todavía controlasen las carreras de artistas singulares como M Alfonso. En el estado actual de la cosas, su música habla por sí misma y con mucha fuerza: “El producto que resulta- no lo sé. Es lo que te guste escuchar. Yo no lo defino. No tengo una palabra que defina mi música.” Quizás no, pero apostamos que esa palabra, si existiese, empezaría con M. - Havana Cultura


Redacción De la mezcla de culturas del país de mayor creación musical del Caribe, llega M Alfonso a A Coruña, que actuará el próximo jueves 29 de octubre, a las 22:30h, sobre el escenario de Amura Café, en Los Cantones Village. Personalizando los registros musicales desde el Soul a la música Afrocubana, adquiriendo el estilo propio que la ha consagrado como una de las mayores artistas de Cuba de la actualidad.

M Alfonso (La Habana, 1986) es una joven compositora y cantante que explora multitud de sonidos y ritmos desde una base de soul y jazz, incluyendo aportaciones desde el R&B, el pop, la electrónica y la música afrocubana. Ha recorrido medio mundo con Síntesis, banda con la que estuvo nominada al Grammy Latino 2001 y 2002, y ha colaborado con artistas cubanos de renombre internacional como Pablo.

Su experiencia crece junto a artistas como Milanés, Amaury Pérez, Omara Portuondo o su hermano X Alfonso (junto al que cantó delante de un millón de personas en el Concierto Paz sin Fronteras 2009 en La Habana). En 2008 recorrió media Europa en una exitosa gira junto con la multiinstrumentista cubana Yusa.

Su primer disco en solitario "Señales" (2008), de sonidos experimentales, ganó el Cubadisco 2009 a mejor disco cubano fusión y fue presentado en festivales de jazz de Latinoamérica, Estados Unidos y Europa en 2009 y 2010. "M Alfonso", su nuevo trabajo, cuenta con la participación de artistas como Silvio Rodríguez, Pedro Luis Ferrer, Diana Fuentes o el "Ruso" de Orishas. En este álbum, que saldrá a finales de 2011, M despliega su sensual voz por múltiples registros y muestra la madurez musical que la ha convertido en una de las creadoras de música cubana alternativa de mayor reconocimiento. - La Opinión Coruña


Entrevistamos a la cantante M Alfonso, quien ya ha logrado éxitos en su país, en México y en otros muchos lugares, con su primer disco y con trabajos junto a su hermano X Alfonso y a su padre, y que ahora prueba suerte en España, con este segundo trabajo en solitario, para el que ha contado con la colaboración de artistas como Silvio Rodríguez, Pedro Luis Ferrer, Diana Fuentes o el ¿Ruso¿ de Orishas. - RTVE (Spanish National Radio Television)


Hoy seguimos conociendo temas de el dúo Asolas, y además hablamos con Eme Alfonso artista cubana, cantante, pianista y compositora que ha compartido escenario con artistas como Pablo Milanés, Cool and the Gang, Juanes y mas y que se encuentra en Cuba preparando la gira europea que tiene prevista para el 2012.... con la colaboracion de un oyente hemos recordado a Roy Orbison el día en que se cumplen veintitrés años de su fallecimiento... ademas novedades discográficas... - RTVE (Spanish National Radio Television)


El desafío a la superstición del martes 13 fue colectivo. La idea de la intérprete y compositora Eme Alfonso y de Joseph Ros, realizador de audiovisuales y director artístico, así como del equipo de la oficina Proposiciones de PM Records y de la Muestra de Cine Joven del Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC) fue acertada.

Pese a los malos augurios del calendario, para los cientos de personas que asistieron este martes 13 al Cine Charles Chaplin no tuvieron motivos para arrepentirse

En primer lugar, porque el concierto, de inicio a fin, estuvo marcado por la calidad estético musical y la excelente selección del repertorio, aspectos que revelaron la madurez alcanzada como músico y compositora de la joven cantante, a la que se unieron sus cualidades vocales, seguridad en cada una de sus interpretaciones y dominio escénico.

A ello, en segundo lugar, se sumaron los músicos que le acompañaron y que forman parte de su agrupación: Esteban Puebla, al piano, Nam Sam Fong, guitarra, Gastón Joya, bajo y Hugo Cruz al drums, quienes sin dejar de mostrar su versatilidad y talento, mantuvieron el concepto de hacer e interpretar la música, en función de la protagonista.
Momento de singular atractivo lo tuvo Pedro Luis Ferrer, al interpretar los temas “Y ahora que permiten” y “Yo no tanto como él”, de su autoría, reafirmando con el inconfundible canto y el alto vuelo poético que le acompañan, la magistralidad de su arte.

“Ángel”, “Señales”, “Háblame de Amor”, “Buscando inspiración”, “La espera”, creados por Eme, fueron temas coreados por un público heterogéneo, donde varias generaciones se fusionaron para interactuar y disfrutar de la propuesta.

La nómina de invitados contó, además, con Robertico Carcasés, pianista y director del Grupo Interactivo, quien acompañó a la cantante en “On lonely” tema de gran lirismo, donde ambos hicieron gala de virtuosismo.

“Reverse” interpretado en unión de su hermano X Alfonso, así como “Amalia” canción a la que se unieron Ele Valdés y Carlos Alfonso, fundadores, líderes del grupo Síntesis y padres de Eme, le dieron al concierto un matiz de entrañable amor filial, dejando al descubierto una vez más, la profesionalidad de esta familia que hace historia en la música cubana.

El grupo Qva Libre se unió a Eme interpretando “Para mestizar” dejando sellado el pacto, dada la acogida del público, de compartir nuevamente juntos el escenario.

Reconocer y admirar, la autenticidad del arte de Eme Alfonso y sus invitados, fue el saldo positivo para todos los asistentes a este concierto, quienes además de comprobar las bondades del pasado martes 13, contribuyeron a recaudar fondos para la Muestra de Cine Joven. - Cubadebate


Discography

1st LP "Señales" (Egrem, 2008):
- Single "Señales"
- Single "Ángel"

Album streamed on Spotify and iTunes and played in Cuban radio stations.

2nd LP "Eme" (Producciones Colibrí, 2012):
- Single "Buscando inspiración"
- Single "Alguien me detenga"
- Single "Para mestizar"

Album played in Cuban radio stations, American NPR, Canadian Galaxy, Spanish RNE. Music video "Buscando inspiración" broadcasted in Spanish channel Sol Música.

Photos

Bio

Eme Alfonso (Havana, 1986), Cuban singer with Afro-Cuban root that the National Public Radio of the USA called "The most interesting artist of the new generation in Cuba." Started her career in Sintesis band. She travelled the world and was nominated for a Latin Grammy  in 2001. Collaborated with Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valds.

Her new album "Eme" recreates the 50s Golden Age of Cuban music, mixing the Cuban music with Soul and Jazz. Won the Cubadisco Award 2013 for best fusion album.

She has participated in major festivals around the world as Sonorama Ribera de Duero in Spain, Havana Film Festival in New York,  Zanzibar Jazz Festival in Tanzania and Nice Jazz Festival in France. 

Band Members