Ventura Music Festival

Perla Batalla

Tribute to Leonard Cohen

Friday, July 21, 8:00 pm
Ventura College Performing Arts Center
4700 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, CA

Perla Batalla
Michael Sobie
Bobby Furgo
Dimitris Mahlis  
Ryan Studer
Emily Gilman

Violin soloist (formerly with Leonard Cohen)

Perla Batalla, a former backup singer for Leonard Cohen, got her solo start with his encouragement. Perla is the recipient of the United Nation’s Earth Charter Award for extraordinary devotion to social and economic justice and the Premio Fronterizo Award for healing work in the world. She is accompanied by pianist Michael Sobie who has toured throughout the world with dozens of Broadway musicals such as Wicked, Les Misérables, Rent and Avenue Q.

In 2015, the Grammy© nominated singer began pondering songs to include in a follow-up CD to her 2007 tribute release to friend and mentor Leonard Cohen. As a longtime singer and touring band member with the legendary songwriter, Perla knew there was much of Cohen’s body of work she still wanted to perform and record. Batalla’s first Cohen CD, Bird on the Wire, was produced with Leonard’s blessing; he attended the recording session, weighed in on material and arrangements; and uncharacteristically participated in a photo session at his Los Angeles home to promote the project. Cohen’s passing in November 2016 reaffirmed Batalla’s mission of sharing the lesser-known songs of Canada’s poet laureate with a younger public mostly familiar with the well-covered “Hallelujah.” The man she knew was more often than not motivated by sly humor and absurdity. Tonight’s performance features selected songs and rare personal anecdotes that serve to reveal Cohen’s lighter side, such as his deep affection for 99 Cents Only Stores and delight at dining on hot dogs at Home Depot.

Critics praise Batalla as “a California Chicana proud of her mestiza heritage” who is “musically adventurous.” Her “glorious, supple voice” has “the finesse needed to bring new shadings to Leonard Cohen’s [songs].” As a solo artist, composer and arranger she “has created a musical voyage well worth taking.” But “above all, she is a born storyteller with a rambunctious sense of humor.”

Besides Bird on the Wire, other CDs by Perla include Love Bigger with piano jazz great Karen Hammack; Gracias a la vida, an anthology of traditional South American songs; Heaven and Earth: The Mestiza Voyage and The Perla Collection of 76 songs. She and David Batteau composed music and lyrics for Blue House/2 Hearts on the Outside, a play by Oliver Mayer inspired by the paintings and private journals of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, exploring “the passion and process of two rare creative geniuses...a love letter to art itself.”

Freddie & Al Contarino
Limoneira & Limco Del Mar

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