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La Onda de Elia y Elizabeth


The recordings that the sisters Elia and Elizabeth Fleta made, hand-in-hand with music arranger Jimmy Salcedo in the early '70s in their native Colombia, remained hidden like lost pearls in the undervalued musical pop history of Latin America until today. Their concise and natural mix of styles sways between soft-pop with a touch of tropical-pastoral funk, singer-songwriter sweetened by the subtle perfume of Caribbean music and the psychedelia of a world in the midst of discovering all the possibilities offered by the recording studio. These elements blend graciously and fortuitously, brimming with freshness, in a perfect partnership of sharp melodies with lyrics inspired by a genuine juvenile curiosity about life's mysteries, love and nature in its simplest forms. Elia and Elizabeth Fleta Mallol were born in Bogotá by chance. Their parents were both from Spain but met and got married in Barranquila, and soon after moved to Bogotá. Their father, Miguel Fleta, was the son of the renowned tenor of the same name. Given the family's musical history, the sisters were fully supported and motivated by their parents, who bought them acoustic guitars and encouraged them to take lessons. Mr. Fleta's work would take them to Cali, back to Barranquilla, Lima, and finally Madrid and Barcelona in 1971. In Spain, Elia y Elizabeth were invited to a televised homage for their famous grandfather and were heard by composer and musical arranger Juan Carlos Calderon, who had previously worked with their aunts, the popular duo of sisters Elia and Paloma Fleta. Immediately, he invited them to record under his direction two songs in the studio of the Zafiro label from Barcelona. The chosen songs were "Cae la lluvia" and "Fue una lagrima," two of Elia's compositions. Both songs were released on a 45rpm single, although it lacked any kind of promotion given that, yet again, the Fleta family was about to move back to Colombia. Back in Barranquilla, after performing at a charity event with their friends from the Bakarett Blues Band, the sisters were heard by Graciela Arango de Tobon, a wealthy lady and composer who recommended them to Alvaro Arango. The latter was the musical director of Codiscos, subsidiary of Zeida, a label with headquarters in Medellín which was looking for a female duo with the characteristics of the Fleta sisters. After hearing them sing over the phone, Mr. Alvaro traveled to Barranquilla the next day, where he formalized his intention to record the duo. Soon after, Elia and Elizabeth were in the studios of Codiscos in Medellín. Humberto Moreno, head producer, entrusted the musical arrangements and direction to the pianist Jimmy Salcedo, a Mompox native. A talented and charismatic musician from the bohemian and jazz scene in Bogotá, Salcedo was a former member of The Be-Bops who had become a TV interviewer and started his own band, La Onda Tres. The support of Jimmy Salcedo and his band contributed to the Fleta duo becoming regulars in the local media. During their meteoric career, the sisters were the winners of the Coco Festival in Barranquilla, the recipients of the Principe de Oro -- an award given by the eponymous radio station -- and were nominated for the Onda Award as the best new band of 1972. A second LP appeared the following year and the TV shows continued weekly, leaving Elia less and less time to devote to her studies, which she was most interested in. She decided to talk to her family and explain to them her desire to stop her television performances and instead completely devote herself to her university education in music pedagogy. Elizabeth, meanwhile, understood and accepted her sister's decision and also quit the world of entertainment. Includes a booklet with liner notes by compiler Carlos Icaza and photos from Elia Fleta's personal archive.