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Singers and musicians inspired by Frida Kahlo

Ida Elena - "Fr_ida" (2024)

'Fr_ida' is the new single by the multifaceted artist and singer-songwriter Ida Elena, on the main digital stores and from 14 June 2024on Italian radio stations in national promotion. The artist's vocal interpretation is thrilling, authentic and heartfelt, gliding over the Latin melodies of a song that gets into your head from the first listen. Well-structured and carefully crafted artistic production, with trendy arrangements, winking at radio stations.

Fresh from winning first prize at the 'My Italy Festival' in Winterthur, Switzerland, singer-songwriter Ida Elena (winner of 22 international awards including best vocalist at the Los Angeles Video Music Awards) is back with a new single for the summer. After experimenting with mixing pop music and Celtic sounds in her first two singer-songwriter albums, she now explores warmer and more Latin sounds, merging them with more contemporary Italian pop. The song 'Fr_ida' is a manifesto of female affirmation, which, through the paraphrase of Frida Kahlo's own words, sees life through the eyes of singer-songwriter Ida Elena, who is inspired by the work of the great artist. Woman must be free to experience life in all its forms in order to live it to the full.

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Madaus - "Frida" (2024)

'Frida' is the third album by Madaus, recorded in 2019 and released in 2024 due to the worldwide pandemic. It contains four original songs by Madaus and four covers of Chavela Vargas' repertoire, yet it is not just a homage to the Mexican tradition as much as the result of the group's personal and artistic research, which includes many more nuances that materialise above all in the original songs. Women are an important presence in this work but without any rhetoric, strong women like Macorina, sensual, delicate as in Dormi Ancora, women who have lived their desires and who in being themselves have sought their freedom. There is a world in colour in this album, made up of traditions and sounds apparently distant in space and time, but which find a synthesis and harmony in the now defined and mature style of the Madaus and which make us reflect on the complexity of the times we live in, as testified by Oh Capitano and Libano.

More and better than a journey, Frida is an emotional and epidermal experience translated into music that has already captivated the hundreds of people who were able to get to know these tracks at the last Madaus live shows before Covid made the world suspended.

Click here for more info about the Italian music group.

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Frida Kahlo 

Jean-Jacques Debout - "Frida Kahlo" (2024)

Jean-Jacques Debout is in his own right an immense memory of the history of French song. He wears several hats: author, composer, performer. Initially he was a performer with notorious songs like "The golden buttons" (1961), then he embarked on a career as a successful author with emblematic songs written for the greatest: "For me, life will begin" or "My guitar" for Johnny Hallyday in 1963, "All my friends" (1963) or "Like a boy" (1967) for Sylvie Vartan.

He is also the father of intergenerational hits and musical comedy shows by the woman who became his wife, Chantal Goya.

He is back as a performer with the album "Frida Kahlo" (5 April 2024), 14 songs that tell the story of his life and the characters who shaped his existence.

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Saudha - Frida Kahlo Through Indian Classical Music

Frida Kahlo through Indian Classical Music -  (2022)

Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, offers a rendition of Mexican surrealist painter in this cooperative fusion of painting and music.

The melancholic artistic universe of Frida Kahlo is brought to life with an incredible, visceral presentation of Indian classical music.

Directed by poet Ahmed Kaysher, this hypnotic presentation is featuring the world’s foremost Hindustani classical violinist Vidushi Kala Ramnath, leading Tabla player Pt Sanju Sahai, the finest Bengali singer of this generation Shapla Salique, an acclaimed spoken-word artist Shree Ganguly and an award-winning filmmaker Makbul Chowdhury.

 YouTube video: https://youtu.be/XZhXgrmWiE0?si=xygqLn2P_DBM7l6y

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Blossoms - "Ribbons Around The Bomb" (2022)

The album title was inspired by the visit of the frontman of the British Band, Tom Ogden, to Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico in 2019.

“While on tour in 2019 in Mexico, I visited Frida Kahlo’s house. Looking at her paintings on show, someone had described one of them as being like a ‘ribbon around a bomb’.

“I immediately thought that it was a great title for a song and album because of the imagery that it evoked in my mind. I thought about how lots of things in life could be described as being a ribbon around a bomb in the sense that as people we often dress things up which have a darkness lying beneath them.

 YouTube video: https://youtu.be/KZjCoMrciss

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  Israel Varela<br/>Frida en Silencio<br/>Forward Music Italy, 2021

Israel Varela - "Frida en Silencio" (2021)

The album, published by the Forward Music Italy label, is Varela's tenth recording, and is dedicated to the revolutionary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose art, through the words written in letters addressed to her beloved husband Diego Rivera, comes to life again in the album composed of twelve tracks interpreted by Varela together with some of the greatest musicians on the Italian and international jazz scene.

Drums, percussion, piano, sax, double bass, strings and symbolic objects are used percussively in an extraordinary way in this technically, expressively and emotionally exceptional album, combined with the sound of the 'percussive' dance of the dancer Karen Rubio Lugo, innovator and experimenter of modern flamenco.

Recited by Karen Rubio Lugo and sung by the beautiful voice of Israel Varela, Frida's words are the leitmotif of the album, which was conceived in Mexico, during a visit to the painter's famous Casa Azul. The life of the great artist is thus recounted by the virtuoso drummer's musicality and out-of-the-ordinary personality.

Their common Mexican roots (Varela is originally from Tijuana, Lugo from Guadalajara), also expressed in their explosive duo project 'Made In Mexico', give this record an extra depth: love, passion, nostalgia and omens are as much a part of Frida Kahlo's art as they are of Israel Varela's, who for this record wanted great international artists with him, together with extraordinary talents of new Italian jazz.

Two stars of world pianism, Shai Maestro and Rita Marcotulli, linked to Varela by many live and recording collaborations (Marcotulli with Varela has formed a duo partnership with the 'Yin and Yang' record released with Cam Jazz), the incredible American saxophonist Ben Wendel, the famous French/Vienamite guitarist Nguyên Lê, the great French double bassist Michel Benita, the Spanish bassist Julian Heredia, the three Mexican artists Humberto Flores, Luis Villalobos, Rudyck Vidal, the singer Serena Brancale, who for this disc signed the track Silencio, the pianist Claudio Filippini, the double bassists Jacopo Ferrazza and Giuseppe Romagnoli, the vocalist Paola Repele and the very young Josei Varela.

Clich here for a YouTube video.

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Lion Babe - "Frida Kahlo" (2021)

On April 2021 Lion Babe released the upbeat new song "Frida Kahlo" in remembrance of the inspiring artist whose spirit so really nourished her suffering and creativity. Despite the fact that the new song was brimming with vivacious summer vibes, it was really a tribute to Frida Kahlo. It honors her bold authenticity, as stated. The new song is accompanied with a wonderfully vibrant music video in which the lead vocalist Jillian Hervey of Lion Babe assumes the role of Frida Kahlo.

The video, which was directed by Charlotte Scalpari and Lion Babe, is a calypso color explosion that tells viewers to "go look where you came from, it's all there for you." Hervey had a bedazzled unibrow and his hair was a brilliant mix of flowers.

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/R7O7vXriCtY

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Florence and The Machine - "What the Water Gave Me" (2011)

"What the Water Gave Me" is a song by the English indie rock band Florence and the Machine from their second studio album, Ceremonials (2011).

Florence Welch told about the title and meaning of the song: "It's a song for the water, because in music and art what I'm really interested in are the things that are overwhelming. The ocean seems to me to be nature's great overwhelmer. When I was writing this song I was thinking a lot about all those people who've lost their lives in vain attempts to save their loved ones from drowning. It's about water in all forms and all bodies. It's about a lot of things; Virginia Woolf creeps into it, and of course Frida Kahlo, whose painfully beautiful painting gave me the title".  During an interview with NME, Welch revealed how she looked in Frida Kahlo painting by saying, "At lot of the time when I'm writing, things will just appear. I was writing the song and this book on symbolism was lying around, and it had the painting in it. It's nice to mix the ordinary with extraordinary".

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/am6rArVPip8

 

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ColdPlay - "Viva La Vida" (2008)

"Viva la vida" is a single by British music group Coldplay, released on 12 June 2008 as the second track from their fourth studio album "Viva la vida or Death and All His Friends".

In 2007, Coldplay are finishing the very long world tour of X&Y, an album released in 2005. One of the very last dates of the tour stops in Mexico City, where Chris Martin and co. have the opportunity to visit Casa Azul, the official museum of Frida Kahlo. Chris Martin was particularly struck by a painting of watermelons by Frida Kahlo. It is not the fruit itself that captures the singer's attention, but the inscription ‘Viva la Vida’ that stands out on the painting. The work is dated 5 July 1954, exactly eight days before Frida Kahlo's death.

Life had certainly not been kind to Frida Kahlo. However, despite all the suffering, when already seriously ill, Frida painted Viva la Vida. A hymn to life itself, an incitement to live it to the full, despite all adversity. This moved Chris Martin, who later declared:

‘She was experiencing unbearable pain and yet she creates this spectacular painting that she calls Viva la vida, I admire her courage’.

A few months later, Coldplay locked themselves in the studio to record their new album, which not surprisingly would be called "Viva la vida or Death and All His Friends", as Chris Martin was still fascinated by the meaning of that picture. 

The song itself, at least musically, is as simple as it is functional: introduction of cadenced strings, straight bass drum, guitars full of U2-style ambience and space for Chris Martin's voice. Everything follows an atypically symphonic vein, while the spectacular string arrangement is taken care of by Italian Davide Rossi, who will take compliments for his work from Chris Martin himself.

The meaning of the lyrics of Viva la Vida, is hidden behind quotations and historical and biblical references. Chris Martin gives voice to the thoughts of a king who, after his fall, finds himself alone. Although the text never makes explicit who the real historical figure behind the protagonist is, certain characteristics that could lead us back to Louis XVI are evident (although there are also references to Caesar. A reference to the French Revolution is the album cover itself, which depicts Eugène Delacroix's famous painting Liberty Leading the People, a quintessential artistic representation of the revolutionary movements of 1789.

YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgZkm1xWPE