Gaby Moreno

María Gabriela Moreno Bonilla (born 16 December 1981 in Guatemala City, Guatemala), professionally known as Gaby Moreno, is a Guatemalan singer-songwriter and guitarist. Her music ranges from blues, jazz, soul, to R&B. Moreno sings in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.[1]

Gaby Moreno
Gaby Moreno in a concert playing the guitar
Gaby Moreno in a concert playing the guitar
Background information
Birth nameMaría Gabriela Moreno Bonilla
Born (1981-12-16) 16 December 1981 (age 38)
OriginGuatemala City, Guatemala
GenresBlues, Jazz, soul, R&B
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar
Years active1997–present
LabelsMetamorfosis, Nonesuch Records
Associated actsRicardo Arjona

She became known to broader audiences in Latin America after recording a song with Ricardo Arjona in 2011, called "Fuiste Tú". In 2013, she recorded covers of the popular songs "Kiss of Fire" and "The Weed Smoker's Dream" with Hugh Laurie for his album, Didn't It Rain. On numerous occasions beginning in October 2016, she performed with Chris Thile on Live From Here giving her greater recognition among American listeners. Some of her popular covers include "Amapola" and "No Soy El Aire".


María Gabriela Moreno Bonilla was born in Guatemala City on 16 December 1981.

She has a Chihuahua-mix named Pepper, with whom she appeared in a PETA ad campaign, advocating for adoption rather than purchase of pets.[2]

Moreno is a vegan.[3][4]

Critical praiseEdit

KCRW's Ariana Morgernstern, producer of Morning Becomes Eclectic, featured Moreno in an October 2008 podcast and bestowed "Today's Top Tune" status on her song "Song of You." She said she was "caught by surprise with its organic and understated feel. She sings beautifully both in English and Spanish.[5]

NPR reviewed Moreno's debut record Still the Unknown and said: "Whether Moreno decides to stick with pop, soul or Latin (or a fusion of all three) for future releases, Still the Unknown is a promising debut that indicates she won't go unnoticed for much longer." [6]

In 2006, she won the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest with her song "Escondidos," first in the Latin category, then overall.

In July 2010, Moreno was nominated with her co-writer Vincent Jones for an Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Main Title Theme Music" for their theme song to NBC's Parks and Recreation.[7]

In 2010, Moreno was awarded "Favorite American Latino Indie Artist" at the American Latino Awards (run by American Latino TV).


  • "Gaby Moreno's soulful vocals and ability to switch languages and genres have made her a rising star." - NPR All Things Considered[8]
  • "The Guatemalan songwriter Gaby Moreno plucked ragtimey syncopations on a well-worn acoustic guitar, and let loose a tangy, bluesy voice with the feistiness of Édith Piaf." - The New York Times[9]
  • "Moreno's breathtaking voice is passionate and stylistically malleable, as she glides back and forth easily between bossa nova and bluesy rock." - NPR Tiny Desk Concerts[10]
  • "This Guatemalan American singer-songwriter alternates fluidly between languages, whether spoken (English and Spanish) or musical, easing in and out of everything from folksy alt country to retro blues rock …Plucky, quirky and insightful, Moreno has the grace and the skill to make it big." – Rhapsody: No. 3 in Top 10 Latin Alt Albums of Spring 2011[11]
  • "Our little secret is neither little nor secret any more ...[On] Illustrated Songs, influences of soul and Spanish ballads explode in a synergy of musical pieces that impeccably represent a young artist with a rich, old soul" – Al Borde[12]
  • "I really fell in love with this record, because there is so much to her voice …her voice really stands out - very sweet and soulful … adapting to different genres of music … she can go from a dreamy/folksy, very laid back feel, to a tougher edge blast of R&B, to a song that reminds me of something from the 1920s a Brazilian bossa nova song that she sings in English and Spanish." – Felix Contreras, NPR's "Alt. Latino"[13]
  • "The Best [New] Latin Music... Meet your next favorite from the Spanish-speaking world: Gaby Moreno, Old-School, soulful pop... Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald are hard acts to follow, but Gaby Moreno takes her idols' signature bluesiness and marries it with a little Latin flare" – Latina[14]


  • "5 Latinos to Look Out for in 2012" - "Joan Smalls, Gaby Moreno, Jorge Garcia, Thomas Suarez and Mayra Alvarez will probably become household names in the months to come. Her new album, Illustrated Songs, was listed one of "The Best Latin Music Albums of 2011" by, and she will be busy touring Europe, Latin America and the U.S. in 2012." - NBC Latino[15]
  • "The more a thing is stereotyped to death, the more refreshing it is to encounter the skilled reaffirmation of its ideal. With Guatemala-born, L.A.-based Gaby Moreno (October 9, McRaney's Tavern), it's the female singer-songwriter form that she has rescued from the abyss of cliché. She doesn't radically change its rules or anything – she just does it with a little more flavor and a lot more skill. And that's what separates her from typical coffeehouse fare. With an exceptionally rich and assured voice, and a palette that spans Latin, blues, folk, jazz and pop, she's a marquee talent. Her singing is effortlessly bright with purpose and not just a display of ostentatious acrobatics. In fact, there's something very classic about her expression. In her voice, the flame of the female greats is alive." - Orlando Weekly[16]



Gaby Moreno in Reutlingen, Germany (June 2012)
  • In August 2009 Moreno toured with established singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman.
  • Later in November 2009, Moreno toured as direct support for Ani Difranco, on an east coast tour. Difranco invited Moreno back out on tour January/February 2010.
  • July 2010: Tour in Germany (e.g. in Constance, Heidelberg and Ravensburg) and France


  • In early 2011 Moreno and her band played their first headlining tour. They toured through the Netherlands and Belgium performing as part of the "World Sessions" tour. In addition, Moreno and her band opened as direct support for Nouvelle Vague for three shows in Germany.
  • In late 2011 Gaby toured the U.S. East coast as direct support for The Milk Carton Kids.


  • February 2012: Concerts in France
  • Spring 2012: Concerts together with Ricardo Arjona during his "Metamorfosis World Tour"
  • June 2012: Performance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" to commemorate 50 years of Amnesty International, together with Kris Kristofferson and others.
  • May/June 2012: Concerts in Ireland ("Electric Burma" in honor of Aung San Suu Kyi together with Bono, Damien Rice, Bob Geldof, Angelique Kidjo etc.), Germany, France and London (with Van Dyke Parks)
  • July 2012: Concerts in France, including Le Havre, Verdun and Paris.


  • Toured with Hugh Laurie and The Copper Bottom Band through Europe.


  • March 2014: She toured with Hugh Laurie and The Copper Bottom Band through South America, namely Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.


Festival Acústico: Gaby Moreno y amigos

  • February 28: The first day of the festival included performances of Óscar Isaac, Sara Watkins, and Ishto Juevez.
  • March 1: Gaby Moreno gave her second concert of the festival. After her performance of the songs Ave que Migra and Blues de Mar, she introduced her guest Devorah Rahel with whom she played the song Y Tu Sombra. Her next guest was El Gordo, followed by Ishto Juevez. Gaby also played a song called Maldición, Bendición, which is part of her new production. The festival also included musical appearances of Alex Ferreira, Mexican singer Ximena Sariñana, and Natalia Lafurcade.[17]

Europe Tour

  • March 19, 2015: Theater Akzent - Vienna, Austria (The first time she played in Vienna)
  • March 20, 2015: Casino Kulturraum - Friedrichshafen, Germany
  • March 21, 2015: La Spirale - Fribourg, Switzerland
  • March 24, 2015: Cankar Centre - Ljubljana, Slovenia

New York City

  • July 24, 2015: Lincoln Center - Out of Doors


Starting 2016 Gaby Moreno is a reoccurring guest on Live From Here


Gaby Moreno released a cover of Trinidadian artist David Rudder's 1998 song "The Immigrants," made with arranger and producer Van Dyke Parks, ahead of the July 4 holiday, with proceeds going to benefit CARECEN.[18]


¡Spangled!, a collaboration between Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks, was released on Metamorfosis & Nonesuch Records. The album includes a bolero from Panama, a bossa nova from Brazil, a song by Moreno, David Rudder's "The Immigrants," and Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, and Jim Dickinson's song "Across the Borderline," performed with Cooder and Jackson Browne.[19]



  • 2009: Still the Unknown (released independently)
  • 2010: A Good Old Christmastime EP (released independently)
  • 2011: European release of Still the Unknown (World Connection Records)
  • 2011: Illustrated Songs (released independently)
  • 2012: European release of Illustrated Songs (World Connection Records)
  • 2012: Postales (Metamorfosis)
  • 2014: Posada (Christmas Album)
  • 2016: Illusion
  • 2019: ¡Spangled!


  • 2009: Smile - The Cove - sang the song "Smile" (written by Charlie Chaplin) in the Academy Award-winning documentary[20]
  • 2010: Quizas - cover song
  • 2017: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - cover song in collaboration with Mike Garson
  • 2018: The Immigrants - in collaboration with Van Dyke Parks



Year Title Role Note(s)
2013 Hugh Laurie: Live On The Queen Mary Backing Vocals


Year Title Role Note(s)
2017 Family Guy (voice) Episode: "Dearly Deported"
2018-20 Elena of Avalor Marlena (voice) 3 episodes
2019 Undone Herself Episode: "Alone In This (You Have Me)"

Awards and nominationsEdit

Grammy AwardsEdit

A Grammy Award is an accolade by the Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry.[21]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2017 Gaby Moreno Best Latin Pop Album Nominated

Latin Grammy AwardsEdit

A Latin Grammy Award is an accolade by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2012 "Fuiste Tú" Record of the Year Nominated
2013 Gaby Moreno Best New Artist Won


  1. ^ "Gaby Moreno". Gaby Moreno. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  2. ^ Keneth Cruz (2014-05-14). "Gaby Moreno se une a Peta para proteger a los animales" (in Spanish). Prense Libre.
  3. ^ "Gaby Moreno Stars in New PETA Latino Ad: 'Vegan—Let It Grow On You'". PETA. 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  4. ^ "¡La Ganadora Del Grammy Latino, Gaby Moreno, es un Éxito Total en Vegetales!" (in Spanish). PETA Latino. 2017-03-02. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  5. ^ "Gaby Moreno: Song for You". Today's Top Tune. KCRW. July 1, 2008.
  6. ^ Tamara Vallejos (2008-12-04). "Gaby Moreno: 'Song of You'". NPR.
  7. ^ Ann Donahue (2010-07-08). "'Idol,' 'SNL' Join 'Glee' with Emmy Nominatons". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  8. ^ "Gaby Moreno: Lady Learns The Blues, And More". All Things Considered. NPR. 2011-04-10.
  9. ^ Pareles, Jon (July 8, 2011). "Musical Ambition, Defying All Barriers". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Jasmine Garsd (2011-08-15). "Gaby Moreno: Tiny Desk Concert". NPR.
  11. ^ Rachel Devitt (2011-05-17). "LATIN ROUNDUP: TOP 10 LATIN ALT ALBUMS OF SPRING 2011". Archived from the original on 2012-05-25.
  12. ^ Hilda Gabriela (2011-03-17). "Gaby Moreno's "Illustrated Songs" Is All About Going Big, Or Going Home". AB's Top Music News. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  13. ^ Anne Hoffman (2011-07-14). "New Music From The Latin Alternative Music Conference". NPR.
  14. ^ Smriti Mundhra (2011-05-27). "The Best Latin Music You Don't Know: Gaby Moreno". Latina.
  15. ^ Kristina Puga (2011-12-30). "5 Latinos to Look Out for in 2012".
  16. ^ Le-Huu, Bao (2011-10-19). "This Little Underground". Orlando Weekly.
  17. ^ Por Keneth Cruz Y Ángel Elías (2015-03-01). "Gaby Moreno y sus amigos regalaron magia" (in Spanish). Prensa Libre. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  18. ^ "Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks Mark Independence Day Holiday with Release of "The Immigrants"". Nonesuch Records. 2018-07-03. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  19. ^ "Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks' "¡Spangled!" Out Now on Nonesuch". Nonesuch Records. 2019-10-04. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  20. ^ Gaby Moreno on IMDb
  21. ^ "About the Recording Academy". Recording Academy. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

External linksEdit