Carolina Herrera

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None of us had heard of Carolina Herrera, announced as the last-minute support for the great Tania Libertad. The organiser of the La Linea festival had caught her on Charlie Gillett's radio show, and promised us that she wouldn't disappoint.

None of us had heard of Carolina Herrera, announced as the last-minute support for the great Tania Libertad. The organiser of the La Linea festival had caught her on Charlie Gillett's radio show, and promised us that she wouldn't disappoint. A girl with a guitar humbly picked her way among the instruments cramming the stage, sat down, and played a flamenco melody. Her gaze was direct, she commanded attention. When she sang, a flamenco shiver shook the end of each line. She did a Mercedes Sosa number, then a Venezuelan song. Her timbre, which had initially seemed girlish, hardened and revealed a palette of colours; her slow vibrato over a Cuban groove was thrilling. If her style was lazy, her timing was spot-on. She gave a commentary in English, but her asides to the Latin half of the audience were in Spanish: she made us all feel at home. "Now, for my last song..." But you've only just begun!

Remember her name, and pray that when she comes back as star attraction, she won't be obliterated by blue smoke, fancy lighting and Woodstock-strength amplification, for her art needs none of that.

Tania Libertad, of course, got all these things, though her voice was so powerful that she hardly needed the microphone. She looked like an Inca princess in the surrounding gloom, and her opening a cappella number was a beautiful way to begin. Then she got into her stride, delivering a series of Peruvian/Argentinian/Cuban numbers, many from her new CD Negro Color, with funky verve. African influences were evident, but there were also Cleo Laine-type moments, and times when the entire band turned into percussionists. Her voice was irresistibly arresting: no wonder she's hailed as a luminary of Latin American music, and that Unesco has designated her a Singer for Peace.

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