By Ramon Hernandez
As incredible as it may sound, Hilda Lamas’ claim is absolutely true and her claim can easily be backed up.
Puerto Rican salsa superstar India dabbled with the blues in a Tito Puente album, sweet-voiced Gaby Moreno, who is from Guatemala ranges from folksy music to some blues and fellow Chicana, Myrna Cabello, who is touted as an Austin blues singer and has performed at Antones’ Blues Monday touches on other genres and yes, “Drunk” is one hell of a blues recording.
It’s just as sparse on the Latino male side with only Rubén V(ela), in the Alamo City, and the Delgado Brothers in Los Angeles specializing in Chicano blues; and yes Carlos Santana, Los Lonely Boys and Alejandro Escobedo have fused some blues into their rock music, but they are not true genuine blues performers as Nuno Mindelis in Brazil and the late Pappo in Argentina.
However, no Latino female has dedicated themselves to strictly blues. In Hilda’s case it would be modern contemporary blues.
“I have not been able to find one Latina in the blues genre yet so it’s time for a Latina to come in and do it,” Hilda said during an interview at Market Square, where she quickly amassed a large crowd that was lured to her stage by her music.
Hilda’s blues are not depressing, but a musical treat. The proof is in “Love Me Alone,” her latest compact disc in which she belts out thirteen blues numbers and as the title tune, you will “Crash and Burn” with “Blues Man In A Three-Piece Suit” and she will steal your heart with “HeartStealer.”
“ ‘Blues Man In A Three-Piece Suit’ reminds me of my guitar player, Jesse Flores, who by day dresses up to sell real estate and by night gets down and dirty with the blues.” As for ‘Crash and Burn,’ when it was sent to me late one night, it was more of a slower blues and I sent it to my keyboard player, Mike Gregory, to re-arrange. His wife, Larene, thought it should have an old school rock feel like Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Rocky nailed it right on the head hence the rocky arrangement and predominant catchy piano part. Another rocking blues tunes is “HeartStealer,” written by Michael Garvin, who wrote “Waiting for Tonight” for Jennifer López.
“Michael, who has an amazing background, wrote this just for my project and it came about when my European agent, Gérard Kerkvliet of C&G Music Partners in Nice, France told him about me.”
Another tune that stands out is the haunting “I Loved You,” a bluesy ballad original written in Spanish by Rick García for Lisa López back in the early 1980s. “Can’t Take the Mud Out” or “Take It Like A Woman,” say it all with the song titles.
Biographically, Hilda was born in Aransas Pass, Texas, the second in a family of three sisters, María (Perkins), Natalia and Elizabeth; and four younger brothers, Frank plus triplets Joseph, Patrick and Víctor.
“We didn’t have a radio, only a CD player and the only music I heard was what was in my father’s collection, mainly Motown plus 1950s and ‘60s. So I thought Aretha Franklin was real hip in the ‘80s.
“My parents were pretty strict and we weren’t even allowed to watch MTV, but we did, when they weren’t around,” Hilda said in a hushed tone.
“My mother played piano and we’d all sing gospel, praise and worship plus contemporary Christian songs at the First Baptist Church of Aransas Pass where I did my first solo performance at the tender age of four.
“Growing up mom wanted me to be a doctor and I initially pursued a degree in biology when I attended Texas A&M University, but music was what I loved and always wanted to do, so I changed my major to music education.”
In Corpus Christi, Hilda did a lot of karaoke and sang a lot of national anthems at local sports events. Then, during her junior year, she joined Phive, a Top-40, blues and classic rock band in which she shared doing vocals with Rocky Benton.
In 2005, she won a karaoke contest and four years later Hacienda Records released the bilingual “Latina Soul,” her first compact disc; and it scored a few Top 100 spots on the iTunes Charts in Austria and Mexico.
When the Virgo vocalist, Mike, keyboards; Jesse Flores, guitar; Tom Engle, bass; and drummer Ernie Ruiz entered the studio to begin work on her sophomore album last year, they didn’t know what musical direction to follow, but ultimately decided it would be predominantly blues.
“Love Me Alone” was released in March and the CD is now #20 in the worldwide RMR (Roots Music Report) “Top 50 Blues” Internet Radio Airplay Chart.”
“Performance-wise, we don’t want gimmicks and hype. We just want to make good music for people to enjoy,” the 29-year-old blues princess said.
This, however, does not stop music critics and fans, including Governor Rick Perry, from writing glowing reviews and testimonies on-line and in the print medium.
“Right now we’re doing Texas to get the show going and to tighten up the band; and then we’ll start accepting dates to play Europe and the rest of the United States.