The Life of Rosalía

From Bad Bunny to Billie Eilish, top artists want to work with her. This is why everyone’s talking about Rosalía.

A flamenco pop sensation

She’s the latest Spanish pop icon. Her songs in Spanish have earned international acclaim. Her songs in Catalan have earned international acclaim. She is the first Spanish artist to win an MTV Video Music Award. Her name is Rosalía Vila Tobella. But the wolrd knows her by the name Rosalía. She was born on September 25, 1993, in Catalonia, Spain. She got her name from her maternal grandmother, who also passed down her love of music. At 7, her singing moved her family to tears. She says that’s when she realized she wanted to be a singer. At 13, she discovered the Flamenco tradition, which became the main influence on her music. As a teenager, she started performing in restaurants and at weddings. She spent everything she earned to pay the palmeros also known as "clappers" that are used in flamenco music.

At 16, she began studying at Music School Concept Project Taller de Músics with the man she calls her “maestro”: José Miguel Vizcaya, the Flamenco singer from Cádiz with the man she calls her “maestro”: Chiqui de la Línea, the Flamenco singer from Cádiz. At 17, she pushed her voice to its limit and had to have surgery on her vocal cords. At 21, she joined the Catalonia College of Music — where only one student of cante jondo, a vocal style in flamenco, is accepted each year. A year later, she met the producer Raül Refree, with whom she produces Los Ángeles, an album of traditional songs centered around the theme of death. That album drew her into the limelight, but also exposed her to critics. She was accused of cultural appropriation for singing with an Andalusian accent when she speaks without it, for using words from Caló, a language spoken by the Romani people, and for singing flamenco music when she isn’t from Andalusia.

At 23, she started to write, blending her flamenco inspiration with influences of electronic music with influences of pop music with influences of trap music. She was inspired by the medieval novel Flamenca, a tragic love story, for the structure of her new album. At 25, she gained worldwide fame with the release of El Mal Querer, distributed by Sony. Her visual identity, to which her sister, Pilar, has contributed, focuses on the pride of Spanish traditions, and is sometimes reminiscent of Bigas Luna’s esthetic. She has collaborated with James Blake, J. Balvin and Ozuna. At 26, she appeared inPedro Almodóvar’s award-winning film Pain and Glory. At a concert in Mexico City, she held up a green handkerchief, a sign of support for the struggle for safe, legal abortion in Argentina. She explores new rhythms, such as reggaetón and Catalan rumba, on “Millonària,” her first song in Catalan. “Con Altura,” co-written with El Guincho and J. Balvin, became the most viewed YouTube video by a female artist in 2019. Barack Obama added it to his summer playlist. With that song, she also won two MTV Video Music Awards: for Best Latin Video and Best Choreography. She is the first Spanish artist ever to receive that prize.