Gabriela Torres grew up in a home that resonated with music. Her father was a tango musician — a composer and amateur singer — and often, her days would begin with strains of tango filtering in through the living room. At six, she got her first guitar. Not surprising, then, that Torres spent her early years dreaming of a career as a singer.
While she did follow in her father’s footsteps, Torres – with a voice that was fresh and clear, yet sensual and easily adaptable to many genres – doesn’t consider herself a tango singer, but an artiste who sings tango poetry. “A subtle difference, but an important one,” says the Torres, who’s now in her 50s. She will be performing at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in a show titled “For the Love of Tango!”.
In her early years, Torres was influenced, much like other youngsters across the world, by The Beatles even as records by Tropicalia Brazilian musicians Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, African musician Lokua Kanza from Congo and Salif Keita and Ali Farka Toure from Mali, lined the shelves at her home. She also loves Anoushka Shankar and Indian devotional music. These international influences are clearly present in her music, which is known for its novel compositions.
The common perception, Torres points out, in tango is that the music isn’t accompanied by lyrics and the instrumentals drive the dance performance. But Torres says that poetry is at the core of tango, that feelings and memories aroused by the lyrics translate into the power of dance. But what attracted her to tango, however, is the passion it awakes in her when she sings it. “It’s a genre that asks for a full commitment to what you’re saying,” explains Torres. “My inspiration grows with experience — love and heartbreak, quests, encounters and farewell, with the flow of life itself,” she says.
In a career spanning 20 years, Torres recently launched her first independent album, titled Ningún Lugar (Nowhere), and has recorded with top artistes such as Kevin Johansen and Lito Vitale. “My career has always been in my own hands. So, although I had to battle, like everyone else, I have lived my life, accepting what the universe offers me,” says Torres.