Alexandra Dorantes showed prodigious musical talent from an early age. Before she was a teenager she had dedicated herself to singing and violin lessons, and her passion for music saw her dive into the worlds of mariachi, choir, opera, and orchestra. She was born in San Marcos, Texas, and was a part of the Austin Youth Orchestra for eight and a half years. She has won a multitude of national, state, and local mariachi vocal competitions, and has shared the stage with some of the most revered artists of Mexican regional music. She studies music at the University of Texas and was recently honored with a position as a voting member of the Latin Recording Academy / Latin Grammy’s. In April this year, at the tender age of nineteen, she released her debut album, Ni Contigo, Ni Sin Ti.
The album was arranged and produced by the Grammy award-winning, Alberto Jimenez Maeda, and features eleven stunning performances of iconic Huapangos from the golden age of Mexican cinema. All of the songs are sung in Español and center around the theme of love, and the joyous (and painful) emotions that go with it. The title track, Ni Contigo, Ni Sin Ti, is an upbeat waltz that features a playful, energetic arrangement of strings, guitar, and trumpet. The lyrics profess undying love for someone who is in the arms of another, and Dorantes’ powerful vocal captures this anguish perfectly. The underlying harmony flickers between possessing a sweet, diatonic tonality, and a darker, dissonant one. This duality encapsulates the wrestling, tormented nature of the lyric – am I happy for this person that I love? Or sad for myself? Dorantes demonstrates her gorgeous falsetto range at key moments in the song.
No Me Digas, another famous Mexican song, is a slightly slower piece and is based upon a descending minor key profession – making use of the classic Flamenco V7. A brilliant trumpet motif opens the song, and this is repeated by the string section the second time around. Dorantes’ voice is restrained and seductive during the verses but opens up powerfully when it comes to the refrain, where her expressive melisma injects much emotion into the lyric – a passionate plea for a lover to follow their heart and not relent to the expectations of others regarding the couple’s forbidden love. She dramatically holds the final, soaring, vocal note, before the trumpet repeats the opening motif in what is a brilliant climax to the song.
Dorantes’ tremendous gift as a vocalist is in no doubt after hearing this gorgeous album. She embodies these classic songs with vigor and grace, and Ni Contigo, Ni Sin Ti, with its mesmerizing musical arrangements, and flawless production, makes for an exquisite tribute to the music of her Mexican heritage.
BELOW: Listen to Ni Contigo, Ni Sin Ti and connect with her website and social media platforms. Please support Alexandra Dorantes by visiting her online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing her music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!