Alma y Azúcar brings you an exquisite and passionate selection of Latin styles and flavors. From the bouncy feel of 'Perfidia' and 'Quizas' to the passionate tango version of 'Besame Mucho', the sultry bossa nova 'Waters of March' and the salsa sound of 'Bemba Colorá' or 'Oye Como Va', these tunes have captured hearts and entertained internationally for decades.
One of the most striking things about Alma Villegas is her ability to honor the rich traditions of the various Latin genres that she performs, without being singularly defined by them. With her band Alma y Azucar, Alma masterfully integrates beloved Latin rhythmic styles including Cha Cha, Bossa Nova, Tango, Son, Rumba, Salsa, Samba and more with more contemporary influences, resulting in what she calls Latin music for everyone.
Born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Alma grew up with a range of musical influences that included 70s disco, American show tunes, pop, Mariachi and traditional Boleros, which her mother, also a vocalist, would sometimes sing. Alma has been singing professionally since 2001, when she joined the popular Seattle salsa band Cambalache. Soon thereafter, she was hired as one of three lead vocalists with the 12-piece Cuban ensemble Yerba Buena. While working with Yerba Buena, Alma began venturing out with her own groups, playing in wine bars, nightspots and other venues. Stepping up as a bandleader allowed Alma the opportunity to explore a broader palette of expression, while opening her up to a bigger and more diverse audience. Thus, Alma y Azucar was born. With Alma at the front, the band also features esteemed Seattle musicians Fred Hoadley (piano, tres, backup vocals), Steve Okimoto (bass), Ricardo Guity (percussion, backup vocals), Lance Lu on Shekere and Steve Mostovoy (trumpet, backup vocals).
In 2013, Alma had the extraordinary honor of performing as one of the lead vocalists for the Seattle Peace Chorus production of Canto General,a sweeping 12-movement suite inspired by the Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda. Alma describes the music as some of the most beautiful that she has ever heard but also some of the most complicated, with challenging meter changes and complex vocal parts. After two successful performances in Seattle. Alma was invited to travel with the choir to Chile, where they performed three concerts between Santiago and the southern town of Temuco.
Alma has released two CDs to date, Alma Villegas (2006) and Alma y Azucar (2010). Both recordings offer lush renditions of favorite songs from a variety of Latin countries, reflecting the unique beauty and passion of all of the cultures therein. Alma y Azucar have performed at many Seattle top music venues, as well as festivals throughout Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and New York.
In 2014, Alma developed an educational musical retrospective and educational show on the legendary Cuban vocalist Celia Cruz. Cruz, or La Reina de la Salsa, was a flamboyant and joyful figure, who rose to prominence in the Latin music scene of the 50s and continued a successful career right up until her death at age seventy-seven. The show, which was partially funded by 4Culture, features songs and stories and interactive activities for students to experiment with their own identify and culture. The show debut for over 600 students at Mount Rainier High School.