QUEER. LATINX. TEXAN.
Gina Chavez is a wife, philanthropist and an award-winning independent musician. She is a 2020 Latin Grammy nominee for Best Pop/Rock Album, 12-time Austin Music Award winner, including 2019 Best Female Vocals and 2015 Austin Musician of the Year. Her NPR Tiny Desk concert has more than 1.2 million views and her hour-long PBS special is available nationwide.
Gina’s music is deeply personal. Her passionate collection of bilingual songs takes audiences on a journey to discover her Latin roots through music as she shares her story of life in Texas as a married, queer Catholic.
Gina tours internationally as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department and runs Niñas Arriba, a college fund she co-founded with her wife for young women in gang-dominated El Salvador. She is featured alongside Oprah, Beyonce, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton and many more in Southern Living's new book celebrating "100 extraordinary women who have left their indelible mark on the South and beyond."
Her first all-Spanish language album, La Que Manda, was just nominated for a Latin Grammy. Now available everywhere.
Y La Bamba
Y La Bamba has been many things, but at the heart of it is singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza’s inquisitive sense of self. Their fifth record, Mujeres, carries on the Portland-based band’s affinity for spiritual contemplation, but goes a step further in telling a story with a full emotional spectrum. Coming off Ojos Del Sol, one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2016, Mujeres exhibits the scope of Mendoza’s artistic voice like never before. “Soy como soy,” Mendoza says, and that declaration is the bold— even political— statement that positions Mujeres to be Y La Bamba’s most unbridled offering yet.
The record exists in the post-2016 landscape of a national identity crisis, and Mendoza explores what it means to be a Mexican American woman by leading us through places we are afraid to go. Mujeres ventures in to the discomfort of the stories we tell ourselves. Those of our past, our futures. We all have these stories somewhere inside of us, but with Y La Bamba, Mendoza forges new narratives from old stories of heritage and family, tracing history while forging modern chicana feminism.
“Music is an extension of everything I have inside. It’s how I emote,” Mendoza says. The raw honesty of Mujeres is in fact the raw honesty of Mendoza. Armed with the emotionality of traditional música mexicana and the storytelling of American folk, Y La Bamba’s artistry is not just their musical ability but Mendoza’s search for unadulterated truth. It is in an ancestral, spiritual journey in which Mendoza comes to terms with the influence and limitations of her upbringing. Mendoza’s experience of childhood summers in the San Joaquin Valley listening to mariachi, of being raised strict Catholic by immigrant parents, of being a woman having to prove herself to the boys, paints strokes of both melancholy and healing on the tracks. “From the way that my family struggles, to the way they shoot the shit… it’s so different from whiteness,” Mendoza says. “It’s a different dimension.”
Y La Bamba exists in the dimension of the Mexican American imagination: somewhere cynical and optimistic at the same time. While there is a celebration of the Mexican creativity that has informed Mendoza’s life, there is a darker side to reconcile with. Where do mujeres fit in to the American story? What are the sins for which we are all guilty? How do different generations interact with the world? How can a culture become visible without tokenization? It is no surprise that in Mujeres, Y La Bamba’s first record with Mendoza at the helm of production, Mendoza contemplates these questions to tell her story. But it is not just Mendoza’s story. Challenging a narrative and dealing with the emotionality of that effort— that is everyone’s story.
Mujeres was recorded by Luz Elena Mendoza and Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios and Besitos Fritos Studios in Portland, Oregon. Mixed by Jeff Bond, with Grace Bugbee on bass, John Niekrasz on drums, Margaret Wher Gibson on keys, and Ed Rodriguez and Ryan Oxford on electric guitar.
Mariachi Las Coronelas
Like nothing you've ever seen. It is an eleven-member, beautiful, all-female ensemble that performs a high-energy entertaining show from beginning to end. A mix of songs in English and Spanish that cater to every single person in the audience. From love songs, to dance songs to the Devil went down to georgia , Las Coronelas are changing the way people percieve Mariachi Genre. Created and directed by Vanessa del Fierro, beauty, talent, high-energy and plenty of audience interaction are qualities that Las Coronelas bring. Don't let the dresses and high heels fool you, when these ladies put on a show, they truly make it a magical event and will leave the audience asking for more. Guaranteed to be something you've never seen and will definitely be an experience you will never forget!
Throughout her life, Irene Diaz has always been about The Search. For identity. For expression. For music and her place in it, and for a creative community and direction that best serves her mission.
All of that can be found in Diaz’s songs and on Lovers & Friends, the California singer-songwriter’s debut full-length album which was recorded in both Mexico City and Los Angeles. With its captivating melodies and richly nuanced ambience, it introduces Diaz as an artist who’s taken many paths to get to this point, and is excited to find even more creative roads to travel as she moves forward.
Lovers & Friends is, in effect, a new beginning for Diaz and a fresh estination for what’s been along musical path. What began in 2013 with the I Love You Madly EP—and praise from NPR’s Felix Contreas raving “her sheer power belies her compact stature, and her musical impact is simply immense.” At the same time, Diaz is already eyeballing her next creative Way station. “This has been a big project that In ever imagined taking so long,” she says. Lovers & Friends is expected in 2021.
Lesly Reynaga has made a striking first impression on America’s musical landscape, making waves with music described by the Austin American-Statesman as “catchy dance beats that carry powerful lyricism.”
“Dual Passport,” her most recent release, shows Reynaga’s promise. It has earned her accolades from admirers ranging from Austin Mayor Steve Adler to Stax Records/Motown legend Al Bell who describes her as “the world’s next female singing and guitar-playing rare superstar.” Reynaga pays homage to her roots on “Dual Passport” with a bilingual sound. The Austin Chronicle states that her compositions “traverse genre, culture, and language with transcendental grace like her predecessors Selena and Shakira did before her.” Austin Mayor Steve Adler proclaimed "Lesly Reynaga Day" on March 1, 2018.
Cecilia & The Broken Hearts
Cecilia + the Broken Hearts are an Afro-Chicano Futurism band formed in Austin, TX.
They have been featured on NPR's Alt-Latino and in 2016 performed at the Cactus Cafe as part of the NPR Tiny Desk Contest Tour. And mentioned in the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk All Songs Considered blog and NPR Alt Latino show.
Their musical focus is based on traditional Latin rhythms that are layered underneath melodic three part harmonies, and complemented by driving guitars, accordion, flute and synth.
From Rumba to Cumbia to Conjunto to Americana, Cecilia + the Broken Hearts is working to push the boundaries of music and create a perfect amalgamation.
Members include Mincho Jacob (bass), Melanie Morgan (accordian, flute, vocals), Estrella De Leon (vocals), Fabian Rincon (drums), Joe Rocha (guitar, synth), Jay Bernal (vocals), Mateo Clarke (vocals, violin), Annie Vandervoort (vocals, guitar, keyboard).
Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet
Presented by Indigenous Cultures Institute and Teatro Vivo
Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet by Maria Rocha and Roxanne Schroeder-Arce with music by Héctor Martínez-Morales. Directed by Rudy Ramirez
Thirteen-year old María is having trouble in school, so her Mom sends her to stay with her Coahuiltecan grandmother in Laredo. There, María is told the ancient story of young Yana Wana, who followed a revered deer to find water and save her people. Yana Wana’s story exposes and amazing and unknown ancestral connection to the bluebonnet that gives María a renewed sense of self and family pride. A beautiful and original play that illustrates the power of heritage and the value of one’s own story – especially one as ancient as the petroglyphs of Texas.
Juana: First (I) Dream
Presented by by A’lante Flamenco
As six voices fill the air with transcendent music, a lone female dancer beats staccato rhythms with her feet. Brilliant, determined, defiant—this is Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, 17th century Mexican nun, scholar, writer and advocate for women’s education.
A’lante Flamenco brings Juana and her world to life through fiery Flamenco guitar, vocals, and dance, with the voices of the Texas Early Music Project adding Baroque choral works from Juana’s era. Juana: First (I) Dream is inspired by Sor Juana’s lifelong fight for knowledge, independence, and scholarship. Be prepared for a totally unique and immersive experience! January 5-7 & 12-14, 2018. Tickets at thelongcenter.org.
This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.