An Artist Who Breaks Barriers and Borders With Foreign Music

An Artist Who Breaks Barriers and Borders With Foreign Music

She was born in Ireland, her mother is English and her father, Irish…

She was born in Ireland, her mother is English, and her father, Irish.

When asked about Colombia, her heart races and goes back to the mountains and landscapes of Tolima… Where she had her first contact with music, dance, and theater, aspects that gave her the possibility to travel the villages carrying her artistic creations.

Since she was a child she had a fairly strong connection with the countryside … With that space that she considers her strongest inspiration because on the farm where she grew up in the middle of streams, caves, tree branches, and riding on horseback, she felt that all that she felt, saw, smelled and enjoyed could turn it into music.

Katie James, a woman empowered by Colombian music, in love with bambuco, says that she was two years old when her mother, on a trip to South America, landed in Colombia and “She was delighted…I grew up with a mixture of cultures, but I have influences from my mother: very English and at the same time a feeling and a way of relating to me that is clearly Colombian.”

She is punctual as a British … But, she loves to dance like a Latina. “My mother was my first teacher. She taught me to play the violin. When I started to compose songs, when I was 13 years old, I changed the violin for the guitar to be able to accompany me when she sang.”

The piano also felt the touches of Katie James, however, the guitar is her faithful companion, the same one she plays with an incomparable style … And not to mention the lyrics that accompany those chords, full of feeling and inspiration, which allow her to move to those magical corners of the geography of our country.

“I love playing guitar and the freedom that being able to accompany me has given me. It allows me to do concerts and tours totally alone if I decide to do so.”

Also read: Tehuana Woman: cultural icon of femininity and empowerment in Mexico

Colombia in Songs

When listening to Colombian songs in the voice of Katie James accompanied by her guitar, it is impossible not to get emotional … Songs like Respirar, Pueblito Viejo, Al Sur, among others, show that she is different, that she has put her magic touch to those songs that they make you see the beauty of the Colombian landscapes and make your heartbeat a little harder.

When asked about her special taste for the bambuco, she points out that "the bambuco has a particular syncopation in its accompaniment and in its phrasing that differentiates it from other rhythms with a 6/8-time signature."

For her, it is a rhythm that “is danced and played” and that sounds a lot like Colombia. "If I am far from these lands and I hear a bambuco with my eyes closed, I can transport myself back to the patio of my house with the aroma of a good coffee freshly prepared on the wood stove."

“I have listened to bambucos from a very young age and this has had a clear influence on my compositions. But I also compose in many other rhythms such as bolero, the waltz, the corridor, samba, country … I love exploring and each rhythm opens up new possibilities.”

One of her representative themes is Mi Forma de Hacer la Paz. The song talks about starting to build peace from the inside, and as she states: “Be happy without hurting anyone. When we pass over others in search of our own benefit, we already generate violence. Peace is harmony.”

More than 15 years of experience, five albums, and concerts have allowed Katie James to climb in her musical career that is marked by quite significant compositions. One of these, Humano, where she narrates the process of "revealing a person, from the moment in the one that we stop idolizing her and we see her with all her beauty and imperfection.” 

On January 29, Katie James presented her most recent production: Mi Nombre En Tu Voz, a single that she defines as follows: “With a rhythm that evokes country and at the same time the Mexican corrido, Mi Nombre En Tu Voz speaks, with humor, about disappointment. About a longed-for love reunion that never happens. The dress that once attracted her gaze now only collects the dust of improbability.”

Toitico Bien Empacao!… More than a letter: Coffee, firewood, panela water, and arepas… These are aspects that she narrates in one of her compositions: Toitico Bien Empacao! 

How was your coffee? How was your aguapanela?

What good arepas that Doña Rubiela prepares

How about the ajiaco, in the morning cold?

And the taste of the potato that I brought fresh from the savannah

This is how this bambuco begins, which was born after seeing the disconnection between the countryside and the city. Obviously, it does not happen only in Colombia. People in big cities are profoundly unaware of the origin of their food. She explains it's not about going back to the field at all. "But, it would seem beautiful to me if there was at least a recognition of everything that happens behind those delicious arepas with which we have breakfast."

Katie James comments that people immediately connected with the song. “Everything that happened continues to amaze me. It has been one of the most beautiful things that have happened to me in my life. Listening to my song now in so many other voices is something indescribable.”

The lyrics of Toitico Bien Empacao! makes one think immediately of the countryside. But what motivated Katie James? She responds: “Turn your gaze to the field. I composed this song while in my family's garden in Huila, surrounded by arracachas, yuccas, broad beans, and guatilas. I wanted to sing and tell the story from the eyes of the peasant”… And she succeeded…

– Well Katie … Coffee or aguapanela?

– Noooo! Why? I don't want to choose! I cannot! Both! Coffee with bread and aguapanela with cheese. Two combinations are necessary for life!

– And your favorite fruit?

-Chontaduro! (with salt and honey)

To Listen to Colombian Music

Katie James is undoubtedly an integral artist, charismatic, she sings, plays the guitar, composes, innovates, and especially enjoys what she does. And that makes her very happy, as well as feeling free and "running through the countryside, the sun in a cold land, the wind in a hot land, singing, sharing music, sharing love, sharing food"… the list is long.

She is aware that in music she enjoys more what is known and understood. “For this reason, my advice is that you listen to a lot of Colombian music… The more you listen to it, the more you will understand it and the more you understand it, the more you will enjoy it."

And so, she shows it especially in those Colombian rhythms, where, amid notes and musical touches, she narrates the experiences of the countryside … of that countryside, of which she feels proud and happy in a country that moves amidst varied climates, diverse vegetation, an exuberant fauna where there is always a reason for a good coffee or an exquisite aguapanela.

You can find Katie James on Facebook as @katiejamesmusic, Instagram as @officialkatiejames, and YouTube as Katie James Music

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