This is what I wrote on Facebook, in the early morning hours of Friday, after seeing Perla perform in Gainesville in the evening on Thursday, November 6, 2014. [Emoticons added in place of hearts.] Be sure to see her when she comes to NYC!!!
Other comments I added on:What an exquisite evening... I remember when we on the Forum were trying to name an upcoming Leonard Cohen tour, however limited or extensive it might be, and it may be that we were thinking of his reciting poetry, as well. In any case, we seemed to agree that An Evening With Leonard Cohen would best capture the elegance and preciousness of our time with him.
Tonight could well have been named An Evening With Perla Batalla... for it met with the same measures... and it was family comfortable, as well. It totally exceeded any expectations I had, and I wasn't even sure of what those were. All I anticipated was Perla solo =/aka without Leonard or Julie. What I experienced was elegant, accomplished, delightfully sweet, funny, endearing, intimate, and amazing. Precious Perla. More adjectives are nagging to be included, but I have to keep pushing them back.
She shared the back story of singing classics to her daughter as lullabies, and her daughter's having effortlessly learned these difficult to execute songs. Nat King Cole, light jazz ballads, old standards ["The More I See You," "The Nearness of You" ~ I was amazed!] Leonard Cohen songs, Spanish/Hispanic/Mexican songs [not sure of the most appropriate term there], the Wizard of Oz "If I Only Had A Brain" ~ she sings deep and low and rich, high and pure, then soft, staccato, and soaring; the variety she brings to her songs is ever present.
I'd commented earlier on the gorgeousness of Perla's lower register. Her full vocal range and expressiveness within it are on par with her expertise in multiple genres. Her professionalism put her on that stage and she commanded it, despite feeling quite ill, thanks to her time on the plane to get here. Had we not been informed of this, we would not have known... yet, in knowing, I can only imagine how she might have been if she felt 100%! Thanks for going on, Perla ~ we would have missed a stellar performance and you... barefoot, after doffing your high heels... I loved it in NYC at The Knitting Factory 10 years ago, and I loved it tonight. Then, you wore a layered dress in white, tonight you wore a layered dress in black. Bare feet the perfect accessory with both. I'm a barefoot person, too, so after NY, I looked for it.
The Portugese-Colombian woman from Colombia, who has a PhD and conducted a discussion on Mexican music before Perla's performance, and who celebrated Perla's proud embrace of her mixed heritage [and her having made it a point to explore her roots] sat to my immediate left. When Perla sang what she considers to be her signature song about loving life and all it brings, the woman sang along in Spanish, and was soooo happy, smiling and swaying as she sang! With others, she clapped and swayed ~ in perfect time, of course . She might as well have been at home in Colombia, celebrating with all her loved ones. We were all invited to sing along with Hallelujah and, of course, did... a reverential feeling filled the auditorium. And what a joy to hear Dance Me to the End of Love in both Spanish and English, Perla alternating with both, verse by verse. Hahah... she let us know that we could sing along on the bilingual part, too, so we all joined in at the appointed time on the La La's, La La La La La La's As she sang Famous Blue Raincoat, the same as with Leonard's songs, the rich, warm patina that comes from their many years together, on the road and as friends, was like amber in Perla's nuances and voice. Layers of understanding and expression that can only come with the years.
Perla's kind thoughtfulness led her to dedicate Bird On the Wire to a couple celebrating their 49th anniversary. They sat directly behind me. They were surprized and thrilled! I was shocked and thrilled when she dedicated Hallelujah to me ! The nature of the audience allowed for these personal touches. Thank you, again, Perla The head of the performance arts at U. of F. made it a point to give Perla kudos when he related to her that she was the best female vocalist since Janis Ian had performed there. [There are MANY female vocalists who perform at U. of F.]
You brought such elegant and earthy warmth and we loved you. Despite feeling ill, Perla offered to sign whatever anyone wanted at the cd table... she signed booklets and cd's, and took photos when anyone requested. I wasn't going to ask for that until someone else did.
When I left, I carried with me three new cd's... after watching her perform, there simply wasn't a question... I didn't even look at them; just picked up one of each. And as I walked outside and read the selections on each, was I EVER delighted to find a CHRISTMAS album amongst them! And one of Leonard Cohen songs. And one of Perla's amazing variety of songs. I have tonight's concert to listen to and so much more! Can't wait for Christmas time! Leonard did you and the listening world a huge favour when he encouraged you to honour and explore your roots in song. As beautiful as your back-up accompaniment was with Leonard [and it was, indeed], you have gone full bloom on your own. And those fuchsia roses with baby's breath below express it perfectly. What you bring to the world of song is sublime
[The reference to the fuchsia roses relates to a photo on Perla's page that she posted with Instagram tonight.]
Oh! I forgot to mention how effortlessly Perla's only accompaniment, a Gainesville-resident pianist, might easily have come with her from California. He was excellent! And there were several times where their shared energy was escalated, inspired, and inspiring. WELL DONE !!! Accomplished musicians never fail to AMAZE me !!!
Who would have thought I'd learn such a delightful gem tonight, too! Perla shared with me that her middle name is Elizabeth! With such 'exotic' and beautiful names as Perla and Batalla, who ever would have dreamed that Elizabeth would stand 'strong' and beautiful between them. I was so stunned when she told me that that all I could say, after a pause of taking it in, was a surprized "That's lovely... !" I would never have dreamed such a lovely blend
Be sure to go see Perla ~ in NYC or anywhere else!!!And, of course, she got a standing ovation at the end [having done her
concert straight through for 75 minutes], but the house let us know
fairly soon into it that she wouldn't be coming back for any encores,
when they turned on the lights, perhaps also to remind some that Perla was not feeling well... and that we at least got her concert!