One of the nicest things about music is discovering new people and people who can sometimes cross genres.
We were going to do one this Sunday, a guy who is immensely talented, but decided to do two instead after seeing someone else highly unusual.
The first is a French guitarist we had not heard of named Biréli Lagrène. Watching him reminds us of someone who went to see Junior Brown for the first time and screamed in shock: no one can do that!
Well, Brown is that good and so is Lagrène. He’s a virtuoso with the dazzling dexterity of his great influence, Django Reinhardt (Lagrène is also Roma). He's 56 now but in this video he was a mere 15. He has grown immensely since then but 15?? The Gods blessed him mightily. The link at the bottom is of a more recent performance. You can see how his talent has blossomed.
The other performer we found is also young, superb and interesting in many ways.
Her name is Sarah La Morena. She’s building a reputation as a great singer of Mexican music of different genres. Some have compared her to Selena, the lost goddess of Tejano music.
There is a twist though: she’s African-American
Born Sarah Palafox, her mother was an addict and she was born addicted herself. A Mexican family took her as a foster child then adopted her. She grew up in Mexico fully acculterated, only moving back to the US as a teen.
Unfortunately she has been catching it from both sides, with African-Americans suggesting she is ashamed of being Black and Hispanic fans accusing her of cultural appropriation. But she was raised in Mexico and revels in its culture.
Sometimes you just can’t win.
Both performers live between and among two cultures and we are lucky for it.