Miriam Allen has one of the prettiest and most intriguing bilingual voices you ever will hear.
Ms. Allen, a North Augusta High School graduate who now lives in Asheville, N.C., will perform a free concert of her English and Hispanic songs at 7 tonight at Maude Edenfield Park in North Augusta. She will be accompanied by guitarist Rod Kight, a North Augusta native and childhood friend of Ms. Allen who also lives in Asheville.
"North Augustans will love us playing together," Ms. Allen wrote in an e-mail.
"I always get a little weirded out playing for people from my home town like my third grade piano teacher and preacher ... It's a bit bizarre singing songs about prostitution and contraband and confessionals of love gone wrong to these people. But we'll have fun."
The park is off East Buena Vista across from the Municipal Building, behind the tennis courts. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. The concert will last one hour.
After listening to her tonight, or to her new CD, La Capitana , you may ask yourself, as I did: Why in the name of Quirino Mendoza y Cortes hasn't this woman been booked to perform at Augusta's annual Hispanic Festival?
Oh, as for Quirino Mendoza y Cortes, he wrote the classic song Cielito Lindo (y'all Southern folks know it by the refrain "ay, ay, ay, ay") which Ms. Allen performs beautifully on her CD.
She sings leads and plays violin and classical and acoustical guitars and wrote 10 of the CD's 11 songs.
Whereas her first CD, The Mountains of Mendoza, was entertaining and showcased her musical talents, her second CD is rich in a musical heritage that she has created fusing Hispanic and Anglo sounds.
"Over the last five years I've spent about equal time performing for Americans and Latinos alike," she writes on her Web site, miriamallen.com. So the natural direction of this record was a cultural merging of the Western Hemisphere.
"It has flavors of Mexico, Cuba, Texas, South America, and of course, the Carolinas. My Spanish isn't perfect, but the Latinos who come to my shows tell me that it makes them proud to hear an American woman singing in their language.
"I've learned so much about community, communication, music, family, and on and on from Latinos. I'll even go out on a sappy limb here and say that I've been swept up in love by Hispanics. So if this record does anything, I hope it will help bridge a tiny little piece of the cultural gap between 'us' and 'them.' "
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 38 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.