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Born in rural Argentina, Gabriela Marrone grew up with the pampas and the sound of the cowboys. When she was eight, her diplomat father was assigned overseas, which took the family to Portugal. There, Gabriela was introduced to the fado music of Amália Rodrigues, which had a great influence on her sound. Portugal was followed by Turkey, then Ireland, and finally Brazil, where she absorbed the local sounds until she turned 18 and bought a guitar, learning to play her own music. After graduation, she moved to Paris, where she performed in underground theater in addition to performing in small cafes as a musician. Then, in 1971, she returned to Argentina to try and make a living as a musician, working with a progressive rock band. There was a twist, however: Where other bands sang in English, Gabriela performed in Spanish, the first rock singer in the country to do so. In 1974 she recorded her first album, Gabriela, then moved to Los Angeles to escape the repressive political climate of her homeland. Residing there for several years, she made a second record, Ubale, marketed only in Argentina and featuring artists like David Lindley, Alex Acuña, George Doering, and Robben Ford. Married and raising a family, Gabriela did a little session singing until 1983 when a Swedish company offered her the chance to travel to Scandinavia and make another album, Friendship. With that over, it was back to her family in California, although she journeyed back to Buenos Aires several times before relocating home in 1992, when the politics had become more liberal, bringing her daughter and her husband, jazz guitarist Pino Marrone. Once settled, she made Atlas Planicies, which saw her accompanied by her husband, David Lindley, and Dino Saluzzi. Released only in Argentina and Chile, it made little international impact. A change came when Gabriela heard Bill Frisell's track "Rambler" and decided to write Spanish lyrics for the tune. Recording them on top of the instrumental, she sent a cassette of the piece to Frisell along with her last album. In 1996, when she was ready to make a new record, Gabriela traveled to San Francisco to work with Frisell and his producer Lee Townsend on Detras del Sol, largely improvised in the studio and completed in four days. Released by Intuition in Germany and distributed worldwide, it received the German Schallplatten award in 1997 as best world music album. In 1998 the same team reconvened to make Viento Rojo, deliberately working without drums or percussion, "to be like a floating spaceship, to never touch the ground," she said. Released in the U.S. in 2000, it garnered critical acclaim.
© Chris Nickson /TiVo


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