The first time I saw Estrella Morente live was in 1998. I was speechless. No other artist had ever impressed me as much on stage. Never. Not even my idol Georges Brassens, nor my beloved Leonard Cohen or Bruce Springsteen.
Estrella was something new, something different. The first thing that impressed me was her attitude. She had an innate elegance, a new sophistication, an apparent security—not the result of arrogance, but of courage and nobility. But then Estrella started singing and I entered a kind of twilight zone. It seemed impossible, someone so young with so much wisdom at the same time. Or was it intuition? Or was it in the genes? Who cares? For me, that day, a star was born.
Estrella, like it or not, belongs to the great, crazy, strange family of divas: Callas, Bernhardt, Duncan, Garbo … and that is something that is neither learned nor studied. It cannot be bought or sold. It is something that is innate.
In Estrella, I found heritage, tradition, and also innovation—the future. She is an improviser who never repeats herself because true feelings can never be duplicated or manufactured. They are conjured up at a given moment. She is archaic and futuristic at the same time. Estrella is a performer who uses her voice like any of the jazz greats, as the noblest, the most primitive, and most quintessential of instruments.
But Estrella is also an actress, although her roles and characters are not defined or mechanical. They represent an open score, upon which to open the heart of cante, like a ritual sacrifice in which art is always renewed, always alive.
From her father, she learned that art is never one thing, but carries all others within it: poetry, dance, painting, bullfighting, film, and theater.
Today, fate has forced Estrella to become the matriarch of a family quite unlike any other in the Spanish arts. She began recording her new album with her father, mentor, and teacher—as well as producer—the great Enrique Morente. He was unable to finish it, but it is now complete.
Autorretrato (Self Portrait) is pure magic. It consists of seemingly disparate tracks, which passed through the filter of Estrella's voice become one in a kind of unique composition. It is like a confession, even a statement. It is the overwhelming intimacy of the music that makes it a self-portrait. The self-portrait of a great star: Estrella, as she is today.
—Fernando Trueba is a Spanish book editor, screenwriter, film director, and producer.