Monday, 4 January 2010

Lhasa de Sela, 1972-2010

We don't tend to do obits and memorials here at DJ!.

But those who had the privilege to hear Lhasa de Sela in concert, who listened to her weave her enchanting songs that she delivered in her husky contralto with stories about her family and her sisters are bereft today. She died on January 1st at her home in Montréal.

Our colleague brebis noire is looking for an interview Lhasa gave and that was published in an Eastern Township newspaper a few years ago. I hope that she'll post it at her blogsite.

Lhasa was mysterious and wild. She loved music and her family. We will miss her.

Update: The aforementioned interview with Lhasa can be read at The black ewe - go read it now.


brebis noire said...

Thanks dBO - I will do that as soon as I can. Lhasa was a force of nature and I am so sad that she has left us; what I imagined for her was a long and illustrious career. She impressed me with her fierce spirituality.

deBeauxOs said...

Although they are in so many ways different, the performer that I imagined Lhasa might have one day ressembled, as a well-accomplished elder and a seasoned world musician, is Cesaria Évora.

Lhasa had the talent and moreover, her communication with her audience was electric and powerful.

deBeauxOs said...

From her website:

The singer Lhasa de Sela passed away in her Montreal home on the night of January 1st 2010, just before midnight.

She succumbed to breast cancer after a twenty-one month long struggle, which she faced with courage and determination.

Throughout this difficult period, she continued to touch the lives of those around her with her characteristic grace, beauty and humor. The strength of her will carried her once again into the recording studio, where she completed her latest album, followed by successful record launches in Montreal at the Théatre Corona and in Paris at the Théatre des Bouffes du Nord. Two concerts in Iceland in May were to be her last.

Lhasa de Sela was born on September 27, 1972, in Big Indian, New York.

Lhasa's unusual childhood was marked by long periods of nomadic wandering through Mexico and the U.S., with her parents and sisters in the school bus which was their home. During this period the children improvised, both theatrically and musically, performing for their parents on a nightly basis. Lhasa grew up in a world imbued with artistic discovery, far from conventional culture.

Later Lhasa became the exceptional artist that the entire world discovered in 1997 with La Llorona, followed by 2003's The Living Road, and 2009's self-titled LHASA. These three albums have sold over a million copies world-wide.

It is difficult to describe her unique voice and stage presence, which earned her iconic status in many countries throughout the world, but some Journalists have described it as passionate, sensual, untameable, tender, profound, troubling, enchanting, hypnotic, hushed, powerful, intense, a voice for all time.

Lhasa had a unique way of communicating with her public. She dared to open her heart on stage, allowing her audience to experience an intimate connection and communion with her. She profoundly affected and inspired many people throughout the cities and countries she visited.

An old friend of Lhasa's, Jules Beckman, offered these words: "We have always heard something ancestral coming through her. She has always spoken from the threshold between the worlds, outside of time. She has always sung of human tragedy and triumph, estrangement and seeking with a Witness's wisdom. She has placed her life at the feet of the Unseen."

Lhasa leaves behind her partner Ryan, her parents Alejandro and Alexandra, her step-mother Marybeth, her 9 brothers and sisters (Gabriela, Samantha, Ayin, Sky, Miriam, Alex, Ben, Mischa and Eden), her 16 nieces and nephews, her cat Isaan, and countless friends, musicians, and colleagues who have accompanied her throughout her career, not to mention her innumerable admirers throughout the world.

Her family and close friends were able to mourn peacefully during the last two days, and greatly appreciated this meaningful period of quiet intimacy. Funeral and services will be held privately.

It has snowed more than 40 hours in Montreal since Lhasa's departure.

Bina said...

Very sad. Her rendition of the Fito Páez song Mercedes Sosa popularized, "Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón", was used in the documentary by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, The Take. It was very memorable, and very effective, as backdrop to a protest. Sadly, Mercedes Sosa also died recently. Two great contraltos gone. They will be missed!

brebis noire said...

Well, I finally found it - had to schlep over to the Record's offices to get a reprint.

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