A natural beauty, enchanting, but most of all talented, Karla Kanora isrecognised as one of the popular voices of the South American country. She has had success on both the national and international stages.
It all began when she was only eight years old in her home town of Esmeralda, a city on the Pacific Coast and home to the biggest afro-Ecuadorian population in the country.
“I have sung all my life, but I still see my father holding my hand and taking me to public events that I had been invited to”.
That is how this sensual artist began her career in music, it was a type of artistic expression which at the time “was very difficult to study as there were not many opportunities for people with little money”.
However, Kanora assures us that, “now my country is experiencing an important development which has changed the situation for the better”. On her first visit to Cuba during the last book fair, she delighted the public with her velvety and melodious voice, and her ability to sing from the most traditional and popular music to even the most difficult classical register.
Kanora’s passion for singing was so great, that at 13 years old her parents decided to send her to study in Guayaquil in order for her to develop her musical career.
At first she tried out a few different courses such as medicine, obstetrics and laboratory based medical technology, until she realised that she was meant to sing.
When asked during an interview with Prensa Latina about the existence of any musical heritage, she answered: “I have not had any artistic influences in my own family, but my great-grandmother Mercedes Gracia loved music and I think that I inherited that love.”
“Solo tu” (Only you), the theme song for the Ecuadorian version of the Brazilian soap opera “Páginas de la vida” (Pages of life), was the first professional success for the young artist, now 36 years old and a mother of 3.
“It was an important step for my career, people identified a lot with the story and as a result, with the song”, Kanora says, having released her first album two years ago, which has 10 tracks in various genres.
After this came two video clips, one of which was associated with a public campaign run by the Ecuadorian authorities in charge of preserving the natural beauty of the country.
With perseverance, talent and the opportunities the Citizen’s Revolution of Ecuador offers everyone. Kanora managed to leave her anonymity behind 6 years ago, even including international bookings in her diary.
“I take advantage of every opportunity to use my art”, says the ambassador of goodwill for Unicef, who not only dazzles with her voice, but also in the programs that she stars in, rallying the will of the people and gaining spokespersons for the cause of infants and adolescents.
Among the experiences that Karla Quiñónez Vilela (her real name), remembers with most pleasure, her work with Havana Express, a Cuban musical ritual group really stands out. With them “I had a lovely experience, as such I think that it is a really nice style of music which should identify with all ethnicities of black people”, she says.
Karla’s family is a very important part of her life and as such they are a source of inspiration and support. Separating romantic relationships from the professional are rather difficult, but not impossible to manage.
“Like everyone, my husband and I have different points of view, we disagree about work. Although it is lovely to spend lots of time together, sometimes we have to remember that we need our own space”.
However, Jorge Martínez is not only her husband and manager, but also the composer of some of her songs.
Sweet, but sometimes temperamental and emotional in her interpretations, Kanora as a person admits that she is very different to Kanora the artist, “when I am on set I use all the energy I have and I am more imposing, empowered, in order to communicate with the public”.
Kanora also loves Afro-American singing, describing it as “the expression of my land”, classical music, ballads, Pasillo and Salsa among many other musical genres and styles, she dreams of her art living on after her death.
For her, Cuban music is relevant the world over, and it would be an honour to return to the Caribbean nation to spend time with the people and the artists there, especially when they could again host the International Book Fair whose guest of honour next year is set to be Ecuador.
(Translated by Frances Singer)