Alisa Amador (Photo provided by Alisa Amador)

Some of the finest concerts this summer have been held outdoors at the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown. The concert series, organized by Common Fence Music, has already been the site of a pair of sold-out shows, featuring nationally known recording artists Sean Rowe and Dom Flemons.

Next up in the series is Boston-based singer-songwriter Alisa Amador. She’s excited about her upcoming show on Friday, August 20th at 7PM.  

“It really is an honor to be a part of the series and especially to be in such a beautiful space,” said Amador in a recent interview.

Amador grew up around music and is influenced by a variety of styles. She first sang with her parents in the band Sol y Canto.

“I was born into a Latin folk musician family, a band that toured nationally throughout my childhood until I was in high school. I was a backup singer from age 4 onward, and then a member of the band. We are still touring to this day, although not full-time.”

“In High School, I started studying jazz and folk music and started playing guitar,” continued Amador. “I was performing in funk bands, cover bands, and I studied jazz in college, performed in a jazz band, as well as vocal ensembles and my own music,” she explained.

Her solo music really evolved when she spent some time abroad.

“I lived in Argentina in my early 20’s and that’s where I started playing my own music with other musicians,” Amador shared. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve tried to carry with me is that music can make anyone feel like they belong in a space. That’s what is so powerful about music. I love devoting myself to being a musician because I can create a space beyond a physical place that can make everyone experiencing the music feel deeply like they belong there, like they are not alone.”

Amador has released music in English and Spanish and is adept at writing in both languages. I wondered how her bilingual background influences her songwriting and performance.

“There’s no way for me to write in English or in Spanish or write songs in any style without them being informed with everything I’ve experienced,” Amador explained. “For example, in the song, ‘Slow Down,’ the latest release off my upcoming record, I feel like there’s such a deep influence of Latin music in the chord voicings, in the style, it almost has like a bossa nova feel, but there’s also jazz, Latin and the rock-pop bridge, a really explosive bridge, and then a scatting solo. It’s really at the intersection of all those things.”

Amador has an arresting voice and is a skillful songwriter – although her genre is difficult to pin down.

“I don’t know what style my music is going to be. I just sit down and try to be honest when I write, I focus on honestly and being connected to emotion. Whatever the style is, I just trust that the audience is going to be able to accept it. I may be harder to be put into a box or genre, I know that I can carry people through all of those styles. They’ll come out on the other end feeling more whole, more human, more uplifted, more heard and less alone,” she remarked.

“Whether it’s Latin music or pop-rock music or the introspective folk songs that do it, I can actually do it all together in the course of a night. I’m all of those things – I can exist that way. I’ve found that being open about that and sharing this music that’s so varied actually makes people feel more validated. Everybody has a story about being ‘in between,’ be it in between cultures or having moved from the West Coast to the East Coast or going to college in a different place or being an immigrant or being the child of an immigrant. Everyone has a story of feeling like they didn’t belong at one point.”

Her new EP Narratives will be released this Fall. She shared some thoughts about the album.

“I like to think of Narratives as a six-song survival kit, in English and in Spanish. The thread through the whole album was looking at culture and difficult life experiences and flipping them around to see where the pain might be coming from -to trace the pain and say, this is not OK. This comes from a culture of being unkind towards women, for example. This comes from the culture of ignoring the truth about something and then flipping it over. The real intention with this album is to make people feel heard and seen and totally uplifted.”

For more information and tickets to the upcoming show, click here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines. Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse,"...