“Rosalía has the depth of an artist who has been with us for generations,” said Lauren Jauregui, introducing the 27-year old at Billboard‘s 2019 Women in Music awards ceremony. Rosalía was accepting the honor of Rising Star thanks to her recent streak of spellbinding art, but true Jauregui’s words, her modern take on the flamenco of her native Spain — specifically its Catalonia region — carries tremendous history.
Rosalía took the stage and tore into an a cappella version of “Catalina,” the lead single from her 2017 album Los Ángeles. Delivering the dramatic ballad with no more than her powerful vocals and some dramatic hand gestures, it was impossible for the crowd to be anything but transfixed, almost instantly. She segued into her El Mal Querer song “Di Mi Nombre” and continued to hold the crowd in the palm of her hand, finally joining a quartet of backing vocalists for the finale. As they chanted, “Ali, Ali, Ali!” Rosalía broke into dance for the final moments.
The striking performance didn’t stop Rosalía delivering a charismatic acceptance speech right after.
“When I was 15, 16, I started going to the studio, and my biggest inspirations were women,” she remembered, citing Lola Flores, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith. But the studio personnel usually didn’t reflect this. “The engineer was a man. The producer was a man. And I was in college studying music and all the musicians were men, too.”
She promised, “I will never stop ’til I find and see the same number of women as men in the studio.”
Rosalía also thanked the many female members of her team, including Rebeca Leon of Lionfish Entertainment and Jenifer Mallory and Erika Alfredson of Columbia Records.
Rosalía is also nominated for best new artist at the 2020 Grammys, as 2019 singles like “Aute Cuture” and “Con Altura” have followed last year’s El Mal Querer with even more critical acclaim and commercial success. But Rosalía has already arrived; her Women in Music performance and speech were confirmation of that.