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Pop Music Review

Peruvian Singer Delivers in Debut

September 27, 1997|DON HECKMAN

The expectations were high for Peruvian singer Susana Baca's Los Angeles debut Thursday at LunaPark. Critically praised during a brief tour of New York and Miami in 1995, her appearance here supported her first U.S. solo album, "Susana Baca" on Luaka Bop Records.

And she delivered on all counts. A slender, smiling woman with a sweet voice and an innate rhythmic strength, she sang a program devoted mostly to songs from the album, backed by a four-piece ensemble.

Some numbers were familiar. "Maria Lando"--the song which, on the Luaka Bop collection "The Soul of Black Peru," first brought her to the attention of U.S. audiences--triggered shouts of enthusiasm from the standing room-only audience.

Simon Diaz's classic "Luna Llena" was sung with an engagingly warm quality, and the traditional "Zamba Malato" simmered with an undercurrent of percussion.

One of Baca's great fascinations, in fact, was the new perspective she brought to Peruvian music, emphasizing the call-and-response and surging rhythms of its African roots while still retaining its lyrical melodic qualities.

Although an occasional shaky pitch problem betrayed some nervousness, Baca handled the performance impressively--her manner warm and graceful, her subtle, dance-like movements filled with irresistible sensuality. A new world music diva about to happen.

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