IT’S no small feat for a foreigner to make it big in Spain’s competitive world of flamenco.
But that is exactly what Leilah Broukhim, a New Yorker with Sephardic Persian heritage, achieved when she inaugurated Madrid’s Centro Cultural Flamenco in February 2019 with a show inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca.
It was the culmination of two-decades mastering the art of flamenco, forging a career as a dancer on the tablao circuit before launching her own projects.
But it all ground to a halt as the pandemic took hold and the nation went into one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.
For Leilah though, hanging up the Castañuelas meant an opportunity to spend more time on another of her passions: music.
“It was tough to suddenly stop flamenco, especially as the Madrid show was proving a success,” she told the Olive Press. “But in fact, the enforced pause brought an opportunity to think about the other things I wanted to do.”
She spent lockdown in a remote casa on the island of Ibiza where she concentrated on writing her own music, playing guitar and singing.
“I’ve been singing since I was a kid, doing musical theatre in high school and at college, but I started learning guitar in 2015 so I could communicate better with my flamenco guitarist.
“However, it soon became apparent that flamenco guitar wasn’t really for me and when I started playing regular guitar and very soon after I found myself composing my first song,” she explains.
“I didn’t even know that side of me really existed but it magically appeared and it’s a true blessing to be able to express myself with lyrics and through music.”
“All of my songs are very closely related to my experience, especially in love, and I find it very therapeutic to be able to express myself and my feelings through my music.”
“It’s an amazing way to get things from my heart out and to share it with others. And if it resonates with others, that’s a true gift. It comes out naturally, I try not to force it,” says Broukhim, who during lockdown released her music videos on youtube and performed live concerts on Instagram and Facebook.
But now that entertainment venues are back in action, Broukhim, who describes her style as an American psychedelic folk sound, is taking it to the next level.
This weekend she will be performing a concert accompanied by ‘the band’ – Nico Martin on electric guitar, Jesus Caparros on bass and Shayan Fathi on drums.
“Playing live is a whole other ballgame, especially with a band. Playing with a band, with such amazing artists who bring their own talent, their own style and their own inspiration to the music.
“I feel like it’s almost a dream that I have got to this point, it was never expected or planned but I just feel so blessed that I am able to play my songs that I created on my sofa in my living room to an audience on a stage with such talented musicians.”