Andrea Cruz:She’s only recently released her debut album “Tejido de Laurel,” but already Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Andrea Cruz is a rising artist to watch. At her performance during SXSW’s first Sounds of Puerto Rico showcase, she poured everything into each song creating some goosebump-inducing moments as she took audiences on an emotional musical journey.
Gato Preto: As one half of the German-based Afrofuturistic electronic duo Gato Preto, MC Gata Misteriosa lights up the stage with a super-charged live performance and infectious dance moves. She grew up in Portugal and has roots in Mozambique. Her showmanship, style and high energy makes her on-stage presence hard to beat.
Kayla Briët:At 21, the uber-talented Kayla Briët, of California, is the ultimate one woman band. In her unique performances, she sings as well as plays the keyboard, guitar and traditional Chinese instrument called a guzheng zither. Oh, and she does all this while live looping. Often during the performance, she’ll have one hand playing the guzheng zither and the other playing her keyboard at the same time. Kayla’s talents extend beyond music. She’s also a filmmaker and virtual reality artist whose inspired by her Prairie Band Potawatomi/Neshnabe, Chinese, and Dutch-Indonesian roots.
South by Southwest 2017 has been full of inspiring moments and amazing musical discoveries. I kept finding myself at showcases led by strong, talented women. Here’s a few who caught my eye.
Luna Lee (South Korea): She may be small, but she’s fierce. Not only is the Seoul-based musician a rock star, but Lee has revolutionized the way a traditional Korean gayageum is played. She’s invented techniques to play rock and blues on the zither-like string instrument. And when her government pulled funding for her to attend SXSW, Lee’s fans brought her here anyway.
ILe (Puerto Rico): You may recognize her as the feminine voice of Calle 13, who for nearly a decade toured with her brothers Rene Pérez Joglar aka Residente and Eduardo Cabra aka Visitante. But it’s time to get to know Ileana Cabra’s own music as a solo artist. Cabra pours everything into her moving, theatrical performances that are a nod to yesteryear.
La Dame Blanche (Cuba): Yaite Ramos Rodriguez oozes swag. The hip-hop artist struts on stage wearing a cape and smoking a cigar. She spits rhymes and then turns around and starts playing the flute. She’s uber talented and her live performances can’t be missed.
Liniker e os Caramelows (Brazil): It was her first time performing in the U.S., but hopefully not the last. We want to hear more from Liniker Barros, frontwoman for the popular Brazilian soul/funk band. As a black, transgender singer, she brings an important perspective to music and on stage her charisma and magnetic performances make her an artist to watch.
8 p.m. Gina Chavez (The Sidewinder Outside). Embracing the space between cultural lines, this Austin-based songstress offers a glimpse into the path she’s been on to connect with her Latina roots with inimitable bilingual folk-pop songs.
9 p.m. Natisú (Friends). Chile keeps making some of the best pop music in Latin America thanks to adventurous musicians like experimental indie artist Natisú. (Also playing at 9 p.m. Thursday at Departure Lounge.)
10 p.m.-1:40 a.m. SXAméricas: Zona Indie showcase (Sledge Hammer). Check out a sampling of Latin American indie music at this showcase. You’ll discover bands like Los Detectives Helados, who come from Ecuador’s burgeoning music scene with their indie rock that flirts with cosmic pop.
8 p.m. The Warning (Karma Lounge). When a YouTube video of these three Mexican sisters playing a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” went viral, the young girls ages 15, 13 and 10 rose to the spotlight. They appeared on the Ellen De Generes show and raised money to attend a summer program at the Berklee College of Music, where they also created video diaries for the EllenTube Channel.
9 p.m. Jéf (Sledge Hammer). The Brazilian singer-songwriter got his big break in 2014 when he won the reality show music competition “Breakout Brazil” and landed a record deal with Sony Music.
10 p.m. Molina y Los Cósmicos (Sledge Hammer). In recent years, the tiny country of Uruguay has been producing unbelievable music. At previous SXSW festivals, the country has brought a delegation of diverse artists. Although there’s no official Uruguayan showcase this year, there are several standout artists like this folk-pop outfit.
11 p.m. Cabezas Flutuantes (Russian House). Using homemade instruments and everyday objects like pencils, Cabezas Flutantes of Brazil present upbeat, pop experimental songs that showcase tropical soundscapes.
Midnight Oques Grasses (Flamingo Cantina). Rising stars in the Catalan music scene, Oques Grasses of Barcelona deliver reggae-inspired pop music. (Also playing Friday at the Palm Door, time is TBD.)
1 a.m. División Minúscula (Karma Lounge). The SXSW alums’ punk rock sound was discovered by legendary DJ Toy Selectah of Control Machete fame. (División Minúscula also plays at 5 p.m. Saturday at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake.)
8 p.m. Velo De Oza (Speakeasy). When you mix Colombian folk music with rock and pop, you get an energetic live show from this charasmatic band that’s sure to create a fun vibe. (Also plays at 11 p.m. Friday at Flamingo Cantina)
9:20 p.m. Arianna Puello (Speakeasy Kabaret). Now more than ever fierce women in Latin hip-hop are bringing inventive and politically savvy rhymes to the forefront. Arianna Puello, a Spanish rapper of Dominican descent, has been delivering her spit-fire lyrics since 1993. (Also performs at 9:40 p.m. Friday at North Door.)
10 p.m. Elida Almeida (Flamingo Cantina). Music lovers will be enchanted with the powerful voice and incredible depth that this songstress brings from Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa. Though danceable and uplifting, some of her songs in Portuguese reflect on meloncholy moments from her childhood including the death of her father when she was just a girl. (Also plays at midnight on Wednesday at Russian House.)
11 p.m. Las Delailas (Departure Lounge). The Monterrey-based pop-folk outfit creates melodies composed using a combination of guitar, ukelele, harmonica, tambourine and vocal harmonies.
Midnight. A-Wa (Flamingo Cantina). Yeminite sisters infuse Arab folk songs with modern beats. (Also play 1 a.m. Friday Russian House.)
1 a.m. The Chamanas (The Townsend). Drawing musical influences from 1970s Mexican pop and modern indie music, the Chamanas call the border region of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez home. They recently captured the national spotlight with their cover of Portugal. The Man’s song “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.” (Also play at 1 a.m. Saturday at Blackheart)
8 p.m. Lulacruza (Palm Door on Sixth). The Argentine electronic folk duo beautifully melds modern and ancient sounds. It’s the place to be when you’re ready to get away from the SXSW chaos and reenergize with inspiring music. (Also play at noon on Wednesday at the International Day Stage and at 12:05 a.m. on Wednesday at The Townsend.)
9 p.m. Sotomayor (Flamingo Cantina). Siblings Raul and Paulina Sotomayor make up the hip, electronic music project from Mexico City. Their cutting-edge beats also fuse rhythms like Peruvian chicha music. (Also plays at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the International Day Stage and 9 p.m. Thursday at Lucille.)
10 p.m. Julio Piña (Flamingo Cantina). These Chilean party instigators create hip-shaking cumbias sure to keep you dancing all night. (Julio Piña will also perform at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Russian House.)
11 p.m. Jenny and the Mexicats (Continental Club). An English female trumpet player walked into a flamenco club in Spain and met two Mexican musicians that changed her musical journey. They added a Spanish cajón player to the mix, and became rising stars playing bilingual genre-blending grooves that mesh everything from flamenco to rockabilly.
12:05 a.m. Kat Dahlia (Swan Dive). The buzz has been swirling around Miami-bred Cuban-American singer-songwriter Kat Dahlia. The up-and-comer released her debut album in 2015, and it’s inspired by pop, Latin, hip-hop and reggae. (Also performs at noon on Saturday at the Radio Day Stage.)
1 a.m. Locos Por Juana (Half Step). The Grammy-nominated Miami band has been shaking up the Latin music world for more than a decade with their hybrid sound and energetic live shows. Don’t miss the chance to see these party masters. (Also perform at midnight Saturday at Flamingo Cantina.)
6 p.m. Systema Solar (SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake). They’ve risen from the Colombian music underground and stormed the Latin alternative scene with their explosive shows that are an audio visual experience. Systema Solar blends Afro Carribbean and Colombian folk with everything from hip-hop, techno, house, cumbia and electronica. (Also perform at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Radio Day Stage and 1 a.m. Thursday at Flamingo Cantina.)
8 p.m. Laguna Pai (Flamingo Cantina). The Peruvian reggae rockers weave socially conscious lyrics in their music focusing on issues like environmental conservation and equity.
9 p.m. Florencia Núñez (Stephen F’s Bar). Keep your eyes on this Uruguayan singer-songwriter whose impressive first album has been showered with accolades. She’s an exciting new voice in Latin indie music tying together influences from pop, jazz and folk.
10 p.m. Zona Tango (Elephant Room). You’ve never heard tango music like this before. Argentine multi-instrumentalist and composer Pedro Menendez’ ecclectic musical project creates a modern tango sound by fusing it with jazz, electronic and psychedelic rhythms.
11 p.m. Consulado Popular (Flamingo Cantina). Punk rock meets Colombian cumbia. (Also play at 1 a.m. Thursday at Speakeasy.)
12:50 a.m. Buyepongo (Speakeasy). Singer and percussionist Edgar “Meshlee” Modesto once described the Los Angeles band’s sound as music that’ll get you moving and thinking. Buyepongo released its album “Todo Mundo” earlier this year, which is full of pan-Latin rhythms that’ll nourish your soul.
Over the years Cuban artists like songstress Danay Suárez have been featured at SXSW, but these performances mark the first Sounds from Cuba showcase with “an entire night dedicated to bands that currently reside and don’t plan to leave Cuba,” according to SXAméricas organizer Alicia Zertuche.
The showcase, which is presented by Roads & Kingdoms magazine and Cuban artist center Fábrica de Arte Cubano, features performers such as Afro-Latin jazz quintet Yissy & Bandancha and Telmary Díaz, a soulful rapper, singer and poet who is backed by a seven-piece band. Other artists include the young, rising R&B artist Daymé Arocena, who The Guardian described as having “all the makings of being the next major Cuban star.”
Rounding out the showcase are veteran performers X-Alfonso y La Flota and Kelvis Ochoa who will also speak at a SXSW music panel focused on the future of Cuban music as the country’s doors are beginning to open up.