Barbara Martinez
Performing Artist & Educator

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I'm Barbara Martinez. I grew up in New York City performing in opera, musical theater and film. I was born in Venezuela, and for better or for worse, I have inherited the love for music, theater and art from my family. My grandmother and her aunt made long and successful careers for themselves as singer/actress originating in Argentina, and my father is a longtime sculptor in Venezuela. After graduating from Brown University (yes my family knew painfully well how difficult it is to make it in this business, so I was encouraged to make sure I had other options!), I returned to New York and I basically became obsessed with flamenco. First, I spent years focused on the baile (the dancing), studying with New York pillars like La Conja and La Meira, and working and learning intensively on the job at Jorge Navarro's tablao, Alegrias and with dance companies like Andrea del Conte Danza Espana. I then returned to my alma mater, The Met Opera, where I had sung for many years as a child, but this time as a gypsy dancer in Carmen and La Traviata.

I starting focusing more and more on the cante (the singing) when I became pregnant with my son Mateo and seeing that there were many flamenco dancers in New York but not many singers. I had also learned immensely from the singers who had sung for me over the years, Alfonso Cid, David Castellanos, Luis Vargas, Aurora Reyes and so many others from Spain. In 2008, I received a scholarship to study cante at the Cristin Heeren Foundation in Seville, Spain. This experience changed many things for me. I came back to New York with a sense of obligation to my flamenco community, but also with a mission to find my place as a singer for the numerous flamenco dancers who do beautiful work here and to see what I can do with all the music that has been circling around in my head all of my life. In 2010 I was honored to be invited to sing at Carnegie Hall to participate in a series put together by William Maselli, featuring world music singers. This opportunity helped to crystallize the more expansive repertoire that I currently do as a soloist, which reflects my many musical influences growing up in New York City and coming from the musical family that I come from.

Today, I sing an eclectic repertoire of flamenco, Latin, Sephardic, Middle Eastern and jazz with a group of amazing musicians that include flamenco guitar, piano, bass, saxophone and never forget to include some flamenco dancing too! We perform in jazz venues and clubs right now we are taking the first steps toward recording this unique sound. But I also remain just as obsessed with traditional flamenco as ever, singing and dancing with groups based in the United States that are doing really interesting work with flamenco, such as A Palo Seco Flamenco Company, , Pasion y Arte, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, Entre Flamenco and Flamenco Sepharad, among others.

The talented Carolina Loyola-Garcia recently made a documentary called "Sobre Las Olas - A Story of Flamenco in the U.S.", that features artists all over the U.S. and myself, who dedicate ourselves to flamenco torch outside of Spain. The exhibit "100 Years of Flamenco in New York" that Flamenco Vivo put on at the Performing Arts Library also features us, as well as the many artists who left their stamp here before us. Any flamenco aficionado or professional would probably say that flamenco is a lifetime learning experience. The world of flamenco songs is so vast that we are constantly studying and researching the palos, the artists that popularized different cantes and bailes, the styles that pertain to each specific region of Andalucia and the endlessly fascinating layers of history and cross-dissemination of cultures in Spain that were responsible for the ever evolving creation of flamenco.

You can see flamenco almost every night in New York City, at places such as Alegrias at La Nacional, for example on Saturdays. Also look out for my Flamenco Meets Jazz group at Smoke Jazz Club. For more about my grandmother, Morenita Rey, click here. And for more about her aunt, Libertad Lamarque, see Wikipedia.

"Something fresh" -New York Times

"[Among] the extraordinary singers [were] the achingly beautiful flamenco sounds of Barbara Martinez." -Philadelphia Inquirer

"The haunting voice of Barbara Martinez seems to be the secret force that binds the dancers entirely to the shifts in melody, volume, mood."

"The high point for me was the vocalist Barbara Martinez. She is a charming presence on stage." -Theater Online

"Barbara Martinez, of the serene disposition and the elegantly pleasing lines." -Urgent Artist

"Barbara Martinez is considered one of the most important representatives of flamenco." -El Universal

2008 Barbara Maria Martinez Arenas. Terms of Use