Some cats really know how to scratch at your heartstrings. A little more than a year ago, Miami's popular octogenarian tango interpreter La Gata reduced a crowd of Latin American émigrés to tears following a screening of a self-titled documentary about her at the Spanish Cultural Center in Coral Gables. The waterworks began in earnest when she asked the audience to join her in singing "Volver" ("Return"). Those who missed that magically melancholy moment (or wish to experience it all over again) will get a chance this Thursday when she returns to perform on the center's stage.
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For those who've never heard the story of how this cat meows, they'll be intrigued to know that her life story is as dramatic as the tango. Raised by nuns in a Buenos Aires orphanage, a young María Angélica Milán took to the streets of the Argentine capital as soon as she reached adulthood. Her sensuous feline looks and talent soon had her singing for her supper in clubs all across South America and Spain. She arrived in Miami 20 years ago with dreams of doing the same, but the local market just wasn't ready. That changed about four years ago when the city's ever-growing Argentine population — many of whom are young rockers — got nostalgic for the madre patria and its rebellious tanguero roots. The glamtankerous ole Gata was just the remedy for homesickness, and she's been gracing Miami's night scene ever since.