The Evolution of Natalia LaFourcade—and how I grew to appreciate her more and more every step of the way

 Photos by Richard Gonzalez

Photos by Richard Gonzalez

Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia LaFourcade has had a career that most can only dream of. Over the course of 15 years she has taken courageous steps to evolve into the artist that she wanted to be at that particular moment in her life. Along the way she has showcased her wide array of talents, from pop-rock and Latinx rock, to Bossanova indie, to folklore and classical, and has kept her quirky style alive. LaFourcade wrapped up a hugely successful 2017 by winning a Latin Grammy for her latest album, Musas, an album she described as “life changing.” The success of “Remember Me,” her duet with Miguel for the Disney/Pixar film Coco, brought her a larger worldwide audience. Whether you have followed along with her career from the beginning, or have recently discovered her music, we wanted to take a look back at the last 15 years and showcase the journey of a talented artist with a wonderful soul.

NATALIA INCIO

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NATALIA INCIO

Natalia LaFourcade released her debut album, Natalia Lafourcade, 15 years ago, which reached No.1 on the Mexican music charts. It included one of her most popular hits to this day, En el 2000, which has transcended many generations of music fans. Her music was well-received by fans due to her quirky pop-rock vibe; many thought she broke the stereotypes of a common pop star by bringing her own sense of style in an age of manufactured artists where appearance outweighed talent.

Three years after her debut, in 2005, she released Casa as the band Natalia y La Forquetina (which won a Latin Grammy – Best Rock Album by a Duo or Group with Vocal). She left the band and a few years later composed her own classical EP, Las 4 Estaciones Del Amor, a.k.a. the classical album that got me through college studies.

NATALIA LA DIVINA

NATALIA LA DIVINA

Hu Hu Hu brought her back to her Latin pop trajectory in 2009. It included the popular song “Ella es Bonita.” Three years later she followed the album with Mujer Divina, a collection of iconic ballads written by El Maestro Agustín Lara (1897-1970). The album included duets with several Latinx artists covering his iconic songs from the 1930s.

Following the success of Mujer Divina, LaFourcade broke new ground both career-wise and creatively with the release of Hasta la Raiz in 2015. Natalia carefully crafted this collection that was filled with passion, strength, heartache, identity, and, most importantly, hope. After a sort of writer’s block, LaFourcade took to the drawing board and released an album of original recordings. LaFourcade won a Grammy (tying Pitbull for Best Latin Rock Urban or Alternative Album) and several Latin Grammys, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Alternative Album, and Best Alternative Song.

After reconnecting to her roots and giving inspiration to Latinx songwriters – like Simón Díaz, Violeta Parra, Mercedes Sosa, Chavela Vargas, and Caetano Veloso, Natalia decided to do another tribute to some of the greatest artists with her in 7th album, Musas, released in May of this year.

She merged folklore and traditional Latinx music with her eclectic style. The most impactful part of this project was the collaboration with Los Macorinos, Juan Carlos Allende and Miguel Peña, the iconic guitar duo who accompanied Chavela Vargas to her last day. The album is meticulously crafted: Natalia and Los Macorinos gathered over 70 traditional songs by some of history’s best with which to work. In keeping with tradition, there are no artificial sounds in the compilation, so they recorded each track to completion without using multiple tracks.

Fans that were looking for something similar to Hasta la Raiz were surprised with a beautiful mix of the past and the present. Understanding this craft is essential to appreciate the majesty of this album.

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NATALIA EN AUSTIN

Natalia made her way back to Austin after being here last October at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, with a very heartfelt performance of Hasta La Raiz (I legitimately cried). After her release of Musas, she returned to please the crowd once more at Emo’s this year.

Her passionate start immediately carried her voice to every corner of the space with “Vamonos Negrito” from Hasta La Raiz.  After two staples from that album, she weaved her way to Musas with “Tú Me Acostumbraste” and “Que He Sacado Con Quererte.” Natalia even took time to embrace the mujeres poderosas (powerful women) who continue to inspire her – in this case, she was referring to Violeta Parra and Omara Portuondo.

She carried the crowd with the title track from Hasta la Raiz, and talked about not losing touch with ourselves. “Palomas Blancas” deepened her connection to the crowd: it was as if she was giving the crowd a giant hug when she sang the lyrics “abrazame con tu luz.”

Natalia then diverted back to her old music with  “En el 2000,” “Mi Lugar Favorito,” “Limosna,” and “Ella Es Bonita” – the crowd was very excited especially the madres and tias that were there. This was a teaser ending and the encore was mostly from Musas.

Natalia took the time to share an uplifting message to Mexico with “Mexicana Hermosa.” She had composed a song for Mexico without knowing how much meaning it would have in the earthquake aftermath and gave inspiration to the people of Mexico by showcasing how much they were valued. The night closed with various songs from Musas like “Soy lo Prohibido” and “Mi Tierra Veracruzana,” where she talks about where her roots in Coatepec, Veracruz. Overall, she wowed the audience with the emotional connection she has to her music.

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NATALIA LA MUSA

Natalia LaFourcade’s passion and voice fill a room with mind, body, and soul. The ardent connection to her roots and appreciation for her past is truly inspirational.  The simplicity and historical origins reflected in her songs represent the feelings of many young people who seek a different future without forgetting about their roots (something true for myself as a border town gal living in Austin).

All together, everyone can appreciate the joy she has brought to music over the last 15 years as she has evolved into our musa.