I first saw Gina Chavez in a tiny restaurant in San Francisco where she and her accompanist had to stand in front of a window looking out over a very active bus stop while they dodged waiters. I was in the back, but despite the dinner noise, she was loud and clear and I knew I was in the presence of genius. And her appearance on Music FridayLive! soon thereafter confirmed that judgment. Not only could she write and sing in two languages, she blended the many cultures, music forms and stories of the Americas, North and South, into sharp social commentary and personal stories so well that it flowed from the restaurant window directly into my ears, mind and heart.
We have kept in touch, but it has been a year since her touring brought her back to the west coast. Her latest independent release, Up.Rooted, is the reason. A collection of bilingual songs that blend the music forms of several countries - Mexico, Columbia, the Carribean among them, and US folk and rock, it topped the iTunes and Amazon Latin charts and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. Some of the lyrics come from her experience as a volunteer in El Salvador, travelling from village to village on a bus in 2010 - not a particularly safe undertaking for a beautiful young woman, now matter how tough she is, and Chavez is tough..
Chavez is currently on tour and will be onstage in Los Angeles at the Hotel Café, Oct 10 with my friends and past Music FridayLive! guestsMitre and Irene Diaz. I intend to be there in the front row, soaking in the songs and stories. But first she stops in at Music FridayLive! this Friday.