CULTURE

‘Almodovar is only a part of me’

«I have achieved more than I could ever dream of but in this business you always want to learn and move forward.» Spanish singer Luz Casal, who is about to give two concerts in Greece – at Athens’s Herod Atticus Theater on Sunday and at Thessaloniki’s Dassos Theater the following evening – talked to Kathimerini about her career, her new album and filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. Casal returns to Greece after her two sold-out performances at the Athens Concert Hall in March, where she thrilled audiences. This time she will present a selection of her past and more recent hits as well as songs from her new album «La Pasion,» which will be released on the Blue Note label on September 29 in Spain and in Greece and on October 12 in the rest of the world. For her Greek concerts, 31 musicians will accompany her in what she likes to call an erotic journey. «This is the best work of my career,» she said immediately, when asked to describe her new album. «It includes some rare classic Latin anthems, traditional Spanish-American songs from the 1950s. They are wonderful pieces and I feel I am at the best moment of my career. That is why I think this album stands out.» The 52-year-old Casal was born in La Coruna in Galicia and grew up in Asturias. She started singing before she was even 10 years old. She was lucky enough to grow up in a music-loving family, which showed its support from the very beginning. Since her debut 1982 album «Luz,» which means light in Spanish, Casal has so far released 24 albums which have sold millions of copies. She very often writes her own music and lyrics and is not afraid to experiment with different music genres. Greek audiences may have discovered her quite recently, through her music in Pedro Almodovar’s films but in reality she is a vocalist that goes a long way back and is credited with an nearly 25-year career. «Yes, I know I am described as Almodovar’s muse,» she said laughing. «I have definitely benefited greatly from my collaboration with him – after all, who wouldn’t want to work with this great artist? – and I became well known to a wider audience. But Almodovar is only a part of me. There are many others.» Nobody can deny that Almodovar’s 1991 film «Tacones lejanos» (High Heels), for which Casal sang the theme song, propelled her career to unprecedented heights. Sales of her records increased rapidly, she won numerous awards, including a prestigious Goya, and she toured the world, something that she still does. It is her warm and expressive voice, combined with her ability to adapt to all kinds of music, from rock and blues to pop and flamenco, that make her popular around the world. She credits what she calls the «great voices» as her inspiration for singing, namely «Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra and Maria Callas.» She believes people love her because she is genuine when she gets on stage. «That is something I have achieved with a lot of hard work. When it comes to singing, talent is not enough, you need to work hard and, of course, be lucky.» «It is not just the music industry that has changed,» she added when asked how difficult it is for young artists to make it in the industry today. «The entire world of communication has changed. There are two choices: You can either follow developments and learn the new rules of the game or stay behind and whine.» Recently, Casal also fought a personal battle against breast cancer. She even recorded her experiences on an album, «Vida Toxica,» which features references to people’s daily «toxic life» as well as cancer. Her courageous public stance regarding her illness turned her, after her surgery, into an international symbol against breast cancer. Tickets for the Athens concert can be purchased at 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.327.2000. Tickets for the Thessaloniki concert are available at the Aristotelous Square box office, tel 2310.271.116.