With six albums released, Victoria Sur is one of the most powerful voices in Colombian music. Nominated for the Latin Grammy 2021, winner of countless competitions in her country, she has performed on various stages in Latin America and Europe. With musical studies in Havana and a disciple of Barbara Maier in New York, last year she visited us to close the International Book Fair of the Bicentenary. The Estación Central team, in coordination with the Municipality of Piura and the cultural manager Jorge Hurtado, announce that she will return in February for what will be her first tour in Peru, touring Piura, Trujillo and Lima. We spoke to her.
By Sol Pozzi-Escot
It’s difficult to classify a singer-songwriter as versatile as you. We’ve heard you in different registers and in all of them your voice soars impressively. Why this intrepid way of going from one style to another, what is Victoria Sur looking for?
-Singing is for me one of the most precious forms of freedom and composing is a way to find forms to communicate different states of the soul, of everything I observe, what I live, both on a personal and collective level. Music is my constant laboratory, my favourite place to play, to experiment, that’s why every album for me is like discovering a new world, it always gives me a tremendous vertigo when I face a new album and I have understood little by little that versatility is a way of life, it is my language, my way of telling the world through my voice and my songs that I am at the service of life, of everything that makes us vibrate, of everything that teaches us, that hurts us, that encourages us, that drives us. I said in a publication recently that if you ask me what I do, I will say that I am dedicated to singing human emotions and these have no gender, no age, I go through them, I inhabit them and then I sing them.
-In 2021 you were nominated for a Latin Grammy, you closed the Bicentennial International Book Fair, you shared the stage with our compatriot Susana Baca, Andrea Echeverri, Marta Gómez, Totó, la Momposina, and now you have announced your return to Peru on a tour of three of its most emblematic regions. How do you feel about starting 2022 at these decibels?
-2021 was a unique year in my life, a year of rebirth, of flight, of harvests, of fulfilling many of my dreams, among them to share with all these women singers whom I have followed, admired and loved for years. Achieving a nomination like this for the Latin Grammy independently is something I never imagined, and as I have said on other occasions, I receive this recognition with immense gratitude and as an achievement not only for me but also for the independent scene in my country, but also for women and for those of us who work as mothers and in our art at the same time. All of this is a recharge of energy for me, it is a boost that fills me with confidence and security to continue in search of more and more dreams. This is a time of manifestations, that’s what I assume, and everything I dream I decree. So, well, that’s why we’ll be in Peru, I imagine.
-Nobody is a prophet in his own land, as the saying goes, but you have managed to establish yourself as one of the most vigorous voices in Colombia, you have won awards, achieved recognition and, not living in Bogotá, you have made Quindío a region we have learned to look at through songs like Estrella de agua. Beyond the anecdote of homonymy, what does Victoria want to represent when she calls herself Sur?
-Well, it is flattering to hear this, I feel very grateful to my land, to my country, there has always been great support from the media, from the festivals, from the people who follow me and programme me, I feel that when you work with dedication, discipline and passion, life gives you gifts. That’s how I feel. I was born in Quindío, a coffee-growing, mountainous region, full of birds, butterflies and trees. Then I went to Bogotá to live for many years, it was my home for a long time, and now I have returned, to my land to connect again with my roots, with my source, with my origin. From here I am born again to continue sharing my singing around the world. Sur was born at a time when I had to decide my artistic name, and I was influenced by the film Sur by Fernando Solanas, I was enthusiastic about the poetic sensation of the word, its flight, its political, social and erotic reason. I was especially influenced by the music of the south. I am from the South. Our north is the South.
-You are the author of the lyrics and composer of the music for your songs; I know you write poetry in classical verse and you are a virtuoso of the sonnet. Which authors have helped you capture those images; how do you achieve clarity in your stories?
-I compose my songs, I love poetry, I have approached it with greater determination in recent times in my life, but I don’t consider myself a virtuoso in the subject at all, I have approached classical verse with the utmost respect and in quarantine I was very diligent as a student taking various poetry courses, for example in Academia Oralitura I took several, among them, the course of Décima dictated by the greatest Cuban poet, Alexis Díaz Pimienta, I also took the course of Sonnet and Song dictated by my great friend, Colombian poet and singer-songwriter, Pala. So I’ve let myself be enchanted by this poetic form and I won’t deny that sometimes I get excited trying verses. I am writing more and more in sonnet form, I am in a kind of enchantment and romance with this poetic form, just as I was also doing in quarantine with the Décima. Poets I love: the Romanian poet Ana Blandiana, the Quindian poet Carmelina Soto, the Colombian Carlos Castro Saavedra and the Cuban Carilda Oliver. There is one poet who influenced my life in a radical way and that is Walt Whitman, with Leaves of Grass.