Erika Luckett

Though it seems we've known each other longer, I suppose it's only five years ago now that I first heard the music of Erika Luckett. It wasn't love at first sound, but it didn't take long. I caught on to her first solo release on her Birdfish Records, Tinted Glass, some time after it first appeared, and kept going back to it for something I was looking for at the time. I was completely hooked, however, by the next record, My Little Crime. Then I knew I'd found one of my people.

Erika was born in Mexico, raised in Venezuela and Brazil. She's a multilingual person, and sings on this recent record in Spanish, English, Portuguese, and French. I just found out the other day that she went to live in France in her teens. Later she studied orchestral composition at the Berkelee School of Music in Boston, and was one of the founding members of Wild Mango, an international jazz and vocal ensemble that played many prestigious festivals in a number of countries.

Erika eventually went on her own, and almost inevitably this solo construct combined with writing her own material recast her career in the American folk music arena. An avid guitarist since her youth, her background in samba, bossa nova, and jazz naturally served as a musical foundation for the reinvention of her own music. The other influences of R&B, rock, folk, and even some country would find their way into the fabric. She's an acoustic guitarist of considerable technique, with both hands. Her knowledge of the fingerboard on the one hand and the ability to pick and kick the shit out of shit with the other hand make her an impressive instrumentalist.

She plays and sings with great feeling, and is a person very connected to her feelings, and to her spirit. I've also watched her in her dealings with the audience in concert and social situations, and she has a profound effect on people, and a powerful presence.

In this new record, Unexpected, the artist has taken a big step forward, in composition but especially in the production area. It's a lot bigger this time, the string section and the bigger rhythm section, the acoustic tracks now joined by electric guitar sounds of many timbres. Also the vocals are appropriately more and better produced than before, as there is more with which to compete, sonically. This is more of a pop record, although a very singular and original one.

So, this Latin American siren has been touring the U.S. the way singer songwriters do, in cars or occasional flights, little clubs and coffeehouses, and the house concerts that make it all work in between. She has gathered a number of accolades in that domain, honored by Acoustic Guitar Magazine as one of the three best DIY releases of that year, and was chosen by Just Plain Folks, a very large grass roots organization, as the Female Artist of the Year last year. What she does is a very global thing, so it doesn't fit very neatly into any of our little programming boxes--her little crime, perhaps. But this writer believes that she is one of the most important and original singer songwriters on the international scene. And we predict that she will become a lot bigger in the years to come. I'm proud to call her my friend, and we're happy to share her with you now, in an appropriately global telephone conversation just the other day.    continue to interview