Music was Irene FarreraÆs first language. Her earliest memories of Venezuela are full of song and dancing feet. By the time she was six, Farrera could sing dozens of ôaguinaldos,ö or holiday songs. She loved the rhythm of VenezuelaÆs gaita music, too, so much so that she insisted on organizing her brother and three sisters into a band to perform for the family. Impressed by their fervor, their father bought a drum for the brother, maracas for the sisters, and presented Farrera with a cuatro, a Venezuelan four-stringed guitar. The instrument became her constant companion.
After high school, Farrera packed up her guitar and moved to New York to study architecture. She returned to Venezuela to work, but grew restless; a scholarship offer eventually took her to Oregon, where she completed a degree in humanities. At one point, short of cash and encouraged by a voice teacher, she auditioned at a jazz club in Ashland, where she was immediately hired for a weekend. The club gave her an opportunity to play with Charlie Byrd, and since then she has toured extensively and opened for the likes of Cesaria Evora, Tish Hinojosa and Susana Baca.
Critics lauded her first two albums, ôWalking in the Jungleö and ôAlma Latina.ö An arranger and songwriter, Farrera pens her lyrics in both Spanish and English and her music covers a range of styles: samba-reggae, rumba-flamenca, and bossa nova.