Perla Batalla excited to perform at Park City Institute’s Illuminati event
November 20, 2015
Perla Batalla looks forward to her return to Park City next week.
The Grammy Award-nominated world-music singer and former backup singer for Leonard Cohen, played Deer Valley this past summer with Esperanza Spalding and Anna Wilson. This time she is headlining and has planned a set that will include an array of works culled from her catalog, as well as from others.
"I have a big body of work, but I do love, love, love to sing Leonard’s songs, " Batalla said during an interview with The Park Record. "So I will definitely do that, and I feel like I may do some songs that are in Spanish, because that is my favorite language on the planet. I mean Spanish is so poetic and such a big part of who I am. Then, who knows? I may do some songs that I have written."
Perla Batalla will perform at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Nov. 28. The performance, billed as the Park City Institute’s first ever Illuminati Concert is a free concert for those who have contributed to the nonprofit’s Seat Campaign.
For the past year, donors have the option to purchase one or more of the 1,296 Eccles Center chairs that will be named in their honor for a one-time donation of $500, or $1,000 for chairs in the theater’s first nine rows, according to Teri Orr, executive director of the Park City Institute.
Donors will get to put a message or a name on a seat plaque and will also receive two tickets for one select Eccles Center 2015-2016 Main Stage performance and a one-year PCI membership. They will also receive a free invitation to a reception with Batalla the evening of the concert, according to Orr.
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"People can donate up to the day of the concert and still get tickets to the show," Orr said. "All Seat-Campaign donations are matched by an anonymous gift up to $1 million."
Batalla said she is honored by the invitation to take part in this special event.
"When I was there this summer, I was taken aback at how gorgeous the scene at Deer Valley was, and also how warm the audience was," she said. "I felt an immediate connection with the audience and we had a great exchange. It doesn’t always happen, and when it does, it’s the most joyous thing I can experience. It was like a lovefest.
"I’m beside myself that we are able to come back so soon," Batalla said. "I’m grateful to Teri Orr and the Park City Institute and the wonderful people at the Eccles Center."
As Batalla’s fans know, she not only sings with emotion and power, but also weaves a great tale, something she started to learn as a child.
"I grew up in a home where my dad was a terrific storyteller," she said. "He was really funny and my mother was super charming."
As a teen, Batalla hung out with other more well-known storytellers — Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Dick Shawn, she said.
From there, Batalla went to perform as a backup singer with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Leonard Cohen.
"No one tells a story like he can," Batalla said. "So, being on the road with him for 10 years, I got first-hand training on how to really tell a story. Not that I tell a story like him. I mean, he can tell me the same story more than a million times and it will always be funny," she said. "It will always be interesting and those are true gifts of good storytellers."
Cohen was the one who encouraged Batalla to embark on a solo career, which has included an invitation to sing at the Kennedy Center, a Grammy Award-nomination for her Leonard Cohen tribute album "Bird on a Wire," her job as a music coach for Will Ferrell in the comedy "Stepbrothers" and the opportunity to share the stage with such artists as Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Antony, Beth Orton, Jackson Browne, John Cale and Teddy and Linda Thompson.
"I so love live performing, and nothing surprises me anymore," Batalla said with a laugh. "Although I have to say that I sometimes pinch myself because of all the people I have met. I have been really lucky that way."
Writing original songs is something Batalla takes seriously.
"I think my inspiration comes from the personal," she said. "That’s the deepest well I draw from, because one of my missions in life is to let the world know how beautiful the Hispanic culture is. I like to talk about where I come from."
Batalla emphasized that idea with her second album, "Mestiza," which she composed with her co-writer, David Batteau.
"The word mestiza means someone of mixed blood and it’s something that I want to share," she said. "I grew up in a primarily white neighborhood in Santa Monica and I felt very different in that environment, because my family was made up of people of color and we didn’t speak English in the home. That was a gift, because it helped make every experience deeper for me."
In addition to her albums and live performances that teach her listeners about the Hispanic culture, Batalla also does youth outreach programs.
"Today, with the rampant racism that is directed at Hispanics in this country, I feel like its super important for me to go to schools and, sometimes, juvenile halls, to talk with these young people and tell them that they are valuable," she said. ‘There is no reason for them to feel anything less, because they have this amazing culture they can draw from to become a creative person and contribute to society.
"I love the energy of young people," she said. "They are the future. So it’s important to give them strength and tools to proceed with. But I do confess that sometimes I get more from those experiences than they do."
Park City Institute will present its first annual Illuminati Concert featuring Perla Batalla on Saturday, Nov. 28, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. For more information or to become a Seat Campaign contributor, contact The Eccles Center box office by calling 435-655-3114 or emailing EcclesCenter.org.
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