Gina Chavez
Gig Seeker Pro

Gina Chavez

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Latin Singer/Songwriter




"NPR Tiny Desk Concert"

Gina Chavez

September 22, 2015by FELIX CONTRERAS • Much has happened for Gina Chavez since I first saw her at an unofficial SXSW showcase about five years ago: two albums, fan and industry recognition, this year's Austin Music Award for Austin Musician Of The Year. Chavez's music has developed over the years, just as it should.What hasn't changed is the intense openness and warmth of her performances. From that hot spring afternoon in Austin to this recent Tiny Desk Concert, it always feels as if she's performing just for me. And, of course, you get the sense that everyone else in the audience feels the same. See for yourself, and if you don't know her already, I dare you to walk away and not become a fan. - NPR Music

"Latin Roots: Gina Chavez"

World Cafe's Latin Roots segment today features a performance by bilingual Austin singer-songwriter Gina Chavez. Chavez's latest album, Up-Rooted, has been well-received in her hometown, where she won the Austin Music Award for Artist Of The Year, among other honors.

Chavez also won a John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize for her song "Siete-D," which can be heard in this segment. The passionate performer and activist played this set on stage at the recent XPoNential Music Festival in Philadelphia. You can also hear a Spotify playlist of Up-Rooted on this page. - NPR's World Cafe with David Dye

"John Lennon Songwriting Contest"

Session I Winner
Latin Category
"Siete D"
Gina Chavez
Austin, Tx - John Lennon Songwriting Contest

"XPNFest Recap"

Gina Chavez closes the Marina Stage with award-winning Latin music

Austin musician Gina Chavez closed the Marina Stage tonight, bringing some southwest heat to the XPoNential Music Festival and representing the “Latin Roots” project of World Cafe.

Chavez has been getting a lot of attention this year after releasing her sophomore LP Up.Rooted in 2014. She was named Austin’s 2015 Musician of the Year and earned Best Song, Best Album and Best Latin Band accolades from the city’s music awards.

Joined by a band that included a trumpet player, the set was a mix of American and Latin styles. A synth brightened up earthy opener “Fire Water,” while the Latin vibes began creeping in with follow-up “Like An Animal.” “Maiz,” a song from Up.Rooted that Chavez dedicated to the Latinos in the audience, was a low key but beautifully melodic song that played out like a song in a music box. A cover of “I Will Survive” and set closer “Siete-D” were the highlights, the latter featuring a Spanish rap segment in the style of the Beastie Boys. - The Key | WXPN

"The Daily Post"

Wednesday Playlist

Gina Chavez, who previously won Austin Musician of the Year, appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert recently and really represented. Below is the whole show, and it’s a wonderful Wednesday pick-me-up.

- See more at: - Texas Monthly

"On Latest Album, Gina Unearths Her Latin Roots (4.18.14)"

Singer-songwriter Gina Chavez may be a Texan, but on her latest album she reconnects with her Latin roots, singing in both English and Spanish. Up.Rooted blends Latin folk and American pop.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


Texas native Gina Chavez did not come to music early on. When she was 18, she went to a country-blues show in Austin to hear singer Toni Price. It was after that she decided she wanted to learn how to play guitar. So she turned to her dad.

GINA CHAVEZ: You know, I said, hey, dad, don't you have a guitar in the closet? He pulls it out and turns out it's a 1954 Martin, which people who know things about guitars are, you know, they start drooling all over themselves.

CORNISH: A year later, she started writing her own songs.

CHAVEZ: I was actually a little too lazy to learn other people's songs, so I started writing my own.

CORNISH: Now, at age 31, Chavez has released her sophomore album. It's called "Up.Rooted." It's a tribute to her Latin roots.

CHAVEZ: It is a bilingual album and that was intentional. I think it allows people to kind of come along with me for the journey instead of going to a concert where they understand nothing of what's being sung, you know. And so, on some level, your body can get into it and then your mind and your heart can also get into it because of the lyrics. But it also is very much about my own personal roots as a Latina and connecting with those roots.


CHAVEZ: The song we're hearing right now is called "Maiz." In English, it means corn. I wrote the song "Maiz" after meeting someone actually whose home had been uprooted because they were Mexican corn farmers. And when the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement was passed in 1994, one of the effects was that North American corn farmers, because we subsidize our farmers, we were able to undersell and undercut Mexican corn farmers. And I guess, you know, that - it just completely - it infuriated me, you know. So the song was born out of that anger. And at the same time, it ended up turning into more of a lament for sure. But ultimately, it's the song about hope.


CHAVEZ: The instrument you're hearing right now is called a charango. I actually had made it for me in El Salvador. It's a 10-stringed ukulele-like instrument. They traditionally make them out of the backs of armadillos, who had a rounded back. Mine is actually made out of wood. When I had it made for me - there's a guy named Oscar, who's been making charangos for about 30 years in El Salvador, and he actually asked me - he said (foreign language spoken)? He said, do you want it out of an armadillo or out of wood?


CHAVEZ: And I was like, yeah, I'm going to go with the wood.



CHAVEZ: One of my other favorite songs on the album is called "Save Me" because I get to play mouth trumpet on this song.


CHAVEZ: (Singing) Save me a place not an inch away, not a blink outside of your gaze.

It's really just an upbeat party love song, kind of exploring another part of my heart. I started writing this song when I was in El Salvador. And I was fortunate enough to go to El Salvador with my beautiful girlfriend Jody(ph), and she actually had to leave because her grandfather was sick. And so I really missed her, and so it was this idea that kind of like, save me one moment more of your time. That's a new thing for me. I don't tend to write a lot of love songs. And this one, I just wanted it to be big.


CHAVEZ: (Singing) All I want is your heart. All I want is you in my arms. All I need, you to say you'll stay.

So the song is - it's a joyful, you know, we're - hey, don't go to work today. Let's just hangout.


CHAVEZ: Let's just be together.


CHAVEZ: (Singing) And save me.

CORNISH: Singer Gina Chavez, her new album is called "Up.Rooted."


CHAVEZ: (Singing) Save me (unintelligible) and no lies. Move in close and tell me no lies. Run your hand through my hair. Make the day just so clear. Open my eyes with your graze (unintelligible). All I want is your heart. All I want...

CORNISH: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. - NPR All Things Considered

"Austin Musician of the Year"

Musician of the Year: Gina Chavez

Runners Up
2. Shakey Graves
3. Ian McLagan
4. Gary Clark Jr.
5. Elias Haslanger
6. Redd Volkaert
7. Eliza Gilkyson
8. Patricia Vonne
9. Bob Schneider
10. Dale Watson - Austin Chronicle

"Get to know XPoNential artist Gina Chavez"

Of the many bands we’re excited to see this weekend at WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival, Texas native Gina Chavez is high on the list. The bilingual Latin-folk singer/songwriter blends cumbia, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton, and folk injected with social commentary and her dynamic vocal range.

Gina’s appearance at #XPNfest is part of WXPN’s Latin Roots Live! series, based on the Latin Roots program segments heard on World Cafe with David Dye. Latin Roots Live” is a partnership with Afrotaino and Raices Culturales, with support from the William Penn Foundation.

Chavez is highly acclaimed for her music and work in the community. She is the 2014 John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner for her song “Siete-D,” from her recent album, Up.Rooted. She is an eight-time Austin Music Award winner, and Chavez and her band swept the 2015 awards, winning Musician of the Year, Album of the Year for Up.Rooted, Song of the Year (“Siete-D”), Best Latin Band, and the Esme Barrera Award for Music Activism and Education.

Gina plays #XPNfest on Saturday, July 25th at 5:55 at the Marina stage. Single day and three day go everywhere tickets to #XPNfest are available here.

Below, download “Gotta Get” by Gina from her recent album Up.Rooted, which is available for purchase here. - The Key | WXPN

"Who is Gina Chavez?"

In songwriter Gina Chavez' album Up.Rooted, she explores her Latina identity from the perspective of an outsider carefully making her own way in. - NPR Latino USA

"‘Up.Rooted’ Album Review"

The styles on Gina Chavez’s “Up.Rooted” range far, from reggaeton to cumbia to folk and hushed electronics-and-strings ballads, but the Austin, Texas, singer’s sophomore album is also a fine product of her city’s musical terroir, with local producer Michael Ramos at the controls, and the Grupo Fantasma horn section adding sass to what is already a vibrant outing. Chavez, who has spent long periods doing youth work in Central America, wears her social conscience lightly, as on “Maiz,” with its subtext of NAFTA agricultural politics, and “Siete-D,” a funky, rapped tribute to urban San Salvador. Most striking is Chavez’s ease as she moves between social and love songs, between North American and Latin genres, and even between languages: When she passes mid-song from English to Spanish and back, as on “Gotta Get” and “The Sweet Sound of Your Name,” it’s the most natural thing in the world. The result is an album that’s as confident as it is refreshing. (Out Tuesday)

Essential “Gotta Get” - The Boston Globe

"USA Today: Exclusive Song Stream – Gina Chavez’s “Maiz”"

Gina Chavez's Maiz, which streams exclusively at USA TODAY, is sung in Spanish and vocalizes the effects of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) on Mexican immigrants.

"It's a song about resilience," says Chavez, an Austin Music Award winner for best Latin traditional artist/band. "It's a song about the resilience of a people to persist in a hopeful struggle in the face of things like policies that can destroy families and can uproot the lives of so many."

While there's no title track on her latest album, UP.ROOTED, Maiz comes closest, she says. The album represents personal growth to her, understanding "who I am as a Latina, who I am as an American-born Latina, who I am as a homosexual, who I am as a Catholic."

The album is bilingual and "it was really more of an intuition thing" when it came to writing songs in Spanish or English, she says. One song, Like an Animal, even features a portion in Arabic. "It's really hard to understand a culture without understanding a language," she says.

UP.ROOTED began as a Kickstarter campaign. "I really hope that the people who have been with me for a while and helped make this album possible realize that it's their album, too, that we did it together and I couldn't have done it without them."

Chavez, who works for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Texas, says the office has been "amazing and very flexible" with her schedule. At heart a performer, Chavez says, "Not going to lie, I would love to make this a full-time thing, but (I'm) definitely being smart about it." - USA Today

"Bridging Two Cultures, The Latin Songstress Feels Both Out of Place and Exactly Where She Belongs"

Bridging Two Cultures, The Latin Songstress Feels Both Out of Place and Exactly Where She Belongs - Texas Music Magazine

"May 2014 Music Review - Up.Rooted Album Review"

Showing revved-up confidence on her sophomore effort, the pop songstress fuses danceable Latin flair with soulful bossa nova beats, all built upon intricate musicianship. With lyrics in both Spanish and English, Chavez’s music traverses immediate classification, fittingly representing both sides of her familial roots. - Austin Monthly

"Gina Chavez - Up.Rooted Album Review"

Gina Chavez’ sophomore offering of Up.Rooted jumps from the speakers with horns blazing and continues to smolder to the last song with offerings sometimes bold and proud, at others soft and sensual.

The Austin, Texas artist found earlier success in 2007’s Hanging Spoons. Up.Rooted marks a sense of awareness and maturity in its bilingual vocals, warm-to-hot lyrics, big brass accompaniment or soft acoustic melodic backing.

Molding a little jazz, a little reggae and a little Latin beat the poppy “Save Me” bursts from the speakers with strong horns leveraging Phil Spector’s classic ‘wall of sound’. Again, solid lyrics of romantic loss mix with hot Latin horns in “Gotta Get”. Sounding much like a James Bond soundtrack, “Like An Animal” mixes sensual lyrics with strings to produce another hot song.

Among the soft and sensual offerings, “Maiz” and “The Sweet Sound of Your Voice” show the depth of Chavez’ gift with “Soy Quien Soy” portraying her love for South America. The sultry, rhythmic and percussion driven “Fire Water” is a ‘head tune’ – once heard it stays in memory and repeats often. "Todo Cambia" summarizes the collection with a powerfully sensual South American folk offering.

In Up.Rooted Chavez has created her distinct and solid foothold on the music scene. Nothing short of one artist’s hallmark, this collection embodies Gina Chavez as an artist of her own right - The Phantom Tollbooth

"Gina Chavez’ Latest Album – A Musical Triumph and Transformational Experience"

With Up.Rooted, Gina Chavez has established herself as the Joan Baez of her generation.

We are now seeing an emergence of second and third generation Latin musicians who were raised at home in Spanish with cumbia and reggaeton and bosa nova and in school in English with rock and rap and blues and jazz. They are creating a new genre – Gringo-Latin pop, Latino-white folk, Latin fusion – it goes by many names because it hasn’t gelled enough to have one name. The young men and women who are creating this new genre bring something else to the table besides bi-lingual musical forms, human stories and a social conscious. They sing songs of immigrant abuse, of NAFTA, of homelessness, of human rights. They are to the 21st century what Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan were to the war in Vietnam and the US Civil Rights movement. Gina Chavez is one of the artists leading this transformation of American music and consciousness with stories that pierce your heart and engage your own role in the world. And she does with a voice that is at once angelic and commanding.

I had to sit with Gina Chavez’s new studio album, Up.Rooted, for a while before I could write about it. Chavez has one of the most impressive voices in music today, but there is so much more here than stunningly beautiful singing. There are layers, nuances, contexts, history and stories enough for hours of repeat on your iPod. Her songs force you to take time to think about your own life and who you are in the world. Up.Rooted is a musical triumph and a transformational experience whose timing in our nation’s history is auspicious.

“Maiz” is the closest thing on the album to a title track. A song in Spanish that chronicles the terrible impact of the NAFTA trade agreement which enabled American agribusiness to undersell Mexican corn farmers, forcing hundreds of thousands of to abandon their farms in a desperate search for work to feed their families – often dying in an attempt to find jobs in Norte America . Chavez uses her magnificent voice to simultaneously carry the sorrow of the uprooted families and the strength of their resolve to survive and rebuild. Whether or not you understand the Spanish, you will understand the sentiment and the pain.

“Firewater”, lamenting the destructive power of alcohol, is the most hypnotic song on an album that is hypnotic in it totality. Chavez stretchers and curls her infinitely flexible voice, shaping it into the sound of a young but ancient storyteller, supported by soft percussion and electric bass and keyboards. The message is clear but the song is mezmerizing.

She shifts to different solar system in the tom drum-driven “Like an Animal”, drawing a picture of homeless man, representing the forgotten, the cold and hungry with a primitive beat and soaring lyrics. The Tosca String Quartet enriches a song already opulent with Chavez’s voice, contrasting to the portrait she draws in English and Arabic and Spanish guitar. The music pushes relentlessly forward, carrying a spear tip message you can’t escape: in a wealthy world where thousands die for want to eat.” Like every other song on the album, the music massages your pleasure centers while the lyrics open your mind.

“Sweet Sound of your Name”, “Miles de Millas” and “Save Me” remind us that even in a world of need there is love. I especially like “Save Me”, a big, brassy Latin full-band pop tune that

seamlessly blends horns and electronic flourishes, electric guitar and keyboards with her perfect voice. Like everything she writes and sings, it has many layers and perfectly balances instrumentation and singing. “Miles de Millas” hipswings with Latin rhythms and moves effortlessly from English to Spanish as she laments the 2000 mile distance between her and her lover. Likewise, “Save Me” pulls you out of your chair with a swaying dance beat and bright horns from Adrian Quesada and Grupo Fantasma.

All of the songs on the album, except the 1994 Mercedes Sosa song,”Todo Cambia”, are written by Gina Chavez and her collaborators, including the brilliant producer Michael Ramos. Chavez has gathered together some of the best artists playing today to craft this exquisite work of art, including Grupo Fantasma Horns, Eliza Gilkyson on vocals and the Tosca String Quartet.

The title, Up.Rooted, reflects this album’s exploration for Chavez’s heritage, an explicit search for the South American roots of this “Latina by nature, Gringa by nurture”. But, intentionally or not, it is the descriptor of the search of a new generation of Hispanics in America for who they are, and for the rest of the country for what it really means to be an American, a resident of the nation where most of us are immigrants. Each of the ten songs in this album, whether love songs or movement songs, stands on its own as a triumph. But altogether, with Up.Rooted Gina Chavez has established herself as the Joan Baez of her generation.

Up.Rooted by Gina Chavez

Produced by Michael Ramos

Available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify
- See more at: - VENTS Magazine

"Gina Chavez Comes Into Her Own"

Soy Quien Soy
Gina Chavez comes into her own
By Nina Hernandez, Fri., April 4, 2014
Soy Quien Soy
Photo by Sandy Carson

By 4:30am, the girls were up and dressed, doing chores. Off the main road in Soyapango, a slab suburb of El Salvador's capital city, sits a high-walled compound named for Mary Hope of Christians. It's a sacred fortress in a locale where gang tags should be the country's national flower. This country – so tiny it'd fit in Texas 33 times with some left over – continues to struggle in the aftermath of a 12-plus-year civil war that left 75,000 people dead and thousands more disappeared.

In 2009, safely inside the walls of the compound, Austin singer Gina Chavez struggled to decipher rapid Spanish through the tears of teenage drama. Most of the 800 students went home every day, but those who stayed in the dorm might be orphans, live too far away, or in the case of one student, need a safe haven against gang members trying to extort money. If Chavez, on an eight-month volunteer trip, left to journey to the market, she had to return before 5pm.

One morning, she found a chalk body outline 20 feet from sanctuary.

On a study abroad trip to Argentina five years earlier, working on a journalism degree at UT, the then-nascent songwriter fell in love with Latin rhythms. In 2007, Chavez put out her debut, Hanging Spoons, recorded in her bedroom. The album doesn't stray far from the strumming singer-songwriter mold, except for "Embrujo," a first hint at her future passion for Latin music and tribute to the bustling streets of Buenos Aires.

"Hanging Spoons was definitely a rookie release in the sense that I was just putting out a collection of music so my friends could have it," says Chavez today. "I remember writing those songs in my dorm room."

Not long after that freshman release, Chavez's partner, Jodi Granado, approached the singer about returning to Latin America to do volunteer work. The pair had met locally at the University Catholic Center and bonded through their shared spirituality.

"A practicing Catholic lesbian – it's a pretty small percentage," jokes Granado.
Borderless Love

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 8:45pm: Gina Chavez is due onstage at the Austin Music Awards. Right now. Problem is, she's still at her official South by Southwest showcase on Sixth Street.

Fortunately, she's only blocks from the Convention Center, and adrenaline from a packed, dynamic performance hastens the singer and her tight fivepiece, all of whom are still breathing hard. The guys in the band finish stuffing the Honda Element with equipment, while Chavez comes to an important realization: She's going to need fresh lipstick.

The 32-year-old singer had been to the AMAs once before. Last year, she scooped up a Best Latin Traditional plaque, ramping up her profile prior to February's up.rooted. Seven years after Hanging Spoons, the beginner's grown up, whether agonizing over a relationship ("Gotta Get") or reliving El Salvador ("Siete-D"). Embracing her Hispanic roots, the Austin native flourishes in bilingual cumbias, body-shaking reggaeton, and Argentine folk.

"I do this a lot to myself," she sighs: "'God, if only I'd been born in Spain, I'd have grown up with Flamenco music and it would be in my blood. I wouldn't have to learn it. I wish this stuff lived inside of me.' On [up.rooted's] 'Soy Quien Soy' [I Am Who I Am], I realized it does. It's an acceptance of who I am and the place where I am."

At the Music Awards that night, Chavez's previous award tripled into Best Latin Traditional, Best Latin Rock, and the biggie, Best Female Vocalist. There were many people to thank.

Armed with a new vision for her sound, Chavez needed two things going into up.rooted: money and a producer. She met Austinite, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Michael Ramos in 2010 when she submitted "Embrujo" to a compilation for the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"No, I didn't know how transformative that would be," chuckles Chavez.

Known for his work with the BoDeans, Patty Griffin, John Mellencamp, and Paul Simon, plus his own musical universe, Charanga Cakewalk (revisit "The Zen of Revolution," Aug. 18, 2006), Ramos was the perfect choice to guide Chavez into the first stages of musical maturity. Sharing a studio tunnel vision, the two became instant friends.

"In a lot of ways he feels like a buddy, and at other times he feels like a mentor," says the singer.

In 2012, to help fund the completion of the album, Chavez turned to Kickstarter. The result was four times her initial $5,000 goal. Between her continued work in communications, conflicts with Ramos' schedule, and the regular aches and pains of developing a new sound, up.rooted took a total of four years to complete (see "Texas Platters," Feb. 14).

"It takes an army, and when you don't have an army, it takes a lotta time," nods Chavez.

Of 11 tracks on the new disc, "Todo Cambia" (Everything Changes) is the only cover. Made famous by late Argentine heroine Mercedes Sosa, the song revealed itself to its latest interpreter when she was a student in Argentina. Chavez enlisted local folksingers Eliza Gilkyson and Nathan Hamilton to lend vivid harmonies to the nueva canción classic, then emulated its theme of protest in her own song chronicling the struggles of Mexican corn farmers, "Maíz." Plucking a charango, Chavez lilts in Spanish, one line standing out amongst the others:

"We didn't cross the border/ The border crossed us."
Salvadoran Sisters

SXSW Saturday, one last set. The throng for Ginger Leigh's Love on the Lawn at Central Market packs the seats in front of the stage and the expansive patio teems with Chavez's friends and family. Her shutterbug dad, Gene, snaps photos.

By 10pm, it's mostly this group milling around the patio, though the singer seems determined to outlast everyone else. Sammy Foster, her earnest drummer, throws his arms around her. Kenneth Null approached Chavez four years ago after a "Chicas del Barrio" show at the ill-fated Jovita's and asked if she needed a bass player. Bespectacled keyboardist/accordionist Brad Johnston joined the band nine months ago, and trumpeter Michael Romero came aboard not long before that. Dont forget percussionist Jerry Ronquillo.

In red, acid-washed jeans and her trusty ankle boots, Chavez shares a salad with Granado. Pausing the conversation to give her father a hug goodbye, she wraps both arms around him and sinks in. They're huggers, this family. Her parents, Gene and Gail Chavez, still live in the same house where they raised two children. Three years older, Tony Chavez has made his sister an aunt twice now. All of this stands in stark relief to what Gina experienced far south of Austin.

El Salvador embodies disparity.

"You could take a bus from our area, and we'd pass through this little shantytown that's literally built on top of a dump," recalls Chavez. "Then you'd get to the other side of the city, up on the hills, and it's Westlake times 100."

Four sisters who attended the school became family to the pair of Austinites, supporting them when the volunteers' Spanish was first finding traction. Basketball, movie nights – anything to give the siblings a break from study and chores and prayer.

During a voluntary English class one Saturday morning, Chavez and Granado asked a classroom full of young women if they wanted to go to college. Every hand went up. Was anyone planning to attend college? Every hand went down.

Back in Austin and determined to continue supporting their "Salvadoran sisters," Granado suggested they start Austin 4 El Salvador to try and send the four sisters, and possibly more, to college. Now called Niña Arriba, the nonprofit supports college seniors Xiomara and Marta and a sophomore named Vanesa.
I Say a Little Prayer

The second Sunday of Lent at St. Austin Catholic Church is a reprieve from SXSW. Chavez bows her head in prayer. It's the first quiet moment she's had in days.

Settling into the pews of the century-old church are a mix of nuclear families with toddlers in patent leather shoes, bleary-eyed college students, and young professionals in button downs with slicked back hair. Colored light passes through the stained-glass windows onto the white stone walls. The shows, the awards, the interviews, the house guests – it's all on pause now. Ahead of her is prep for a West Coast tour beginning the week following South by Southwest.

There are college students in El Salvador to support, after all.

"Goodness begets goodness," says the Rev. René Constanza, dressed in deep purple robes, launching into a sermon. "Goodness begets goodness." - The Austin Chronicle

"Gina Chavez presenta UP.ROOTED"

Nuestra queridísima Gina Chavez , multipremiada artista de Austin, lanzará su segundo Album de estudio, UP.ROOTED en el mes de los enamorados. Hablamos con la compositora y cantante de raíces latinas sobre la inspiración y las historias detrás de las 11 canciones que componen este material producido por Michael Ramos. Los relatos e imágenes de “desarraigo” se cuentan entre cumbias, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton y folclores mestizos, géneros que Gina fue descubriendo y haciendo propios en sus viajes por Latinoamérica. Mira la entrevista en exclusiva con Blastro2. - Blastro 2

"Gina Chavez - "Gotta Get" Feat. Grupo Fantasma (stream) (Premiere)"

On her new album up.rooted, Gina Chavez traverses many Latin forms, including cumbia and bossa nova, merging them with the singer-songwriter aesthetic of major influences such as Patty Griffin and Ani DiFranco. The result is genre stew that is a perfect representation of what “Americana” really means. In other words, Americana is about more than the US, as it’s really the indigenous roots music of the Americas and it’s multi-ethnic to the bone. Chavez‘s many fans supported the production of up.rooted through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that allowed her to bring on some major Austin talent as players on the record, including Adrian Quesada and David Pulkingham on guitars; Glenn Fukunaga on bass; the Grupo Fantasma Horns; the Tosca String Quartet; and Michael Ramos on keys and accordion. - PopMatters

"Exclusive Download: Gina Chavez’s “Gotta Get” [USA]"

Gina Chavez didn’t grow up listening to Latin music. Like many mixed Latinos (Swiss-German on her mother’s side, Mexican on her father’s) born and raised this side of the border, her exposure to Latin culture in general was very limited, until she started traveling as a young adult.

Of all places, she went to find a connection to her Latin roots in Buenos Aires and later traveled to El Salvador to solidify her alliance to her new cultural identity.

In her sophomore album, the aptly titled up.rooted, the Austin, TX, native explores a plethora of Latin influences in bilingual form, like this cumbia, offered here as a free exclusive download, featuring the horn section of her hometown heroes, the world famous Grupo Fantasma. - Remezcla Music

"Gina Chavez at KUTX 2.7.14"

We are glad to announce that award-winning local singer-songwriter, Gina Chavez is back with a second album. Up.rooted is produced by Michael Ramos (John Mellancamp, Patty Griffin, the BoDeans) and due for release February 11 of this year. The album includes eleven pan-Latin songs and features various local talent including, the Tosca String Quartet, Adrian Quesada, and the Grupo Fantasma horn section. In the album, Chavez explores “the dichotomies of her life as an ethnically mixed American woman trying to define, and embrace, who she is and where she belongs.” All of this is set to the backdrop of music inspired by a cool mixture of reggaeton, cumbia, bossa nova, and old-school Latin pop. Chavez has a laundry list of accolades, but among the very many she was listed as one of the ‘New Latin Artists at SXSW,’ recognized by our program, ‘All Songs Considered,’ and won the 2012-13 Austin Music Award for ‘Best Latin Traditional Artist.’ The release party for Up.rooted will be held at the historic Stateside at the Paramount Theatere Saturday February 15 at 7:30 p.m. and features special guests including, beloved indie-folk songstress, Amy Cook and rising star, Emily Wolfe. Benefits will go to the Niña Arriba College Fund, a fund co-founded by Chavez for impoverished young women in El Salvador. Until then, check out Gina’s live in-studio performance with us from last Friday! - KUTX

"Gina Chavez Has Been Uprooted"

Gina Chavez's album, Uprooted, is a result of the inevitable Targetization of Latin music. What do I mean by that? Well, the record is a quirky, diverse, and the perfect soundtrack to an inevitable fashion campaign for the big box retailer. It's loaded with commercial appeal but has just enough weirdness to give you a few goosebumps (just look at the cover).

Spanglish in nature and diverse in it's approach, Chavez uses her voice and an array of arrangements to make Uprooted an interesting album. From folk to easy listening, Latin to crunchy pop Chavez does it all and does it relatively well. While set up for campaign optimization, Chavez is a unique enough artist to let her songs stand up for themselves and they hold up pretty well.

If you love quirkiness with a bit of global edge then Gina Chavez is like Target giving you a shopping spree. She's a diverse singer songwriter that's creative in her songcraft and it allows her songs to be both catchy and unique while on the verge of being hugely commercial. It's that combination that lifts her out of the dull and boring category of girl with a guitar and makes her ready for success...retail or otherwise. - The Pop Stereo Album Review

"CD Review: Gina Chavez' 'up.rooted'"

Texas-based, Gina Chavez, brings together a classy, folk-riddled, alt-pop concoction of Latin-esque jazz tones and playful cumbia, reggaeton, and jam band music on her latest release, up.rooted. The punchy guitar sounds, clear voice, and Latin-influences are something interesting, enchanting, and memorable. When the Spanish vocals take over, there is an element of a more refined Shakira that pops up. At other times, there is a vintage pop element that is catchy, sensual, and sweet in the vein of UK's Katie Melua. This is not your typical conga and bongo Latin music, since Gina knows innovation and follows her heart for musical direction. This is a great world music compilation with lively strings, percussion, horns, guitars, bass, B3, moogs, and more. This is new world music for a new world. Overall, the reverberations resound with a Latin fire that never ceases to amaze. ~ Matthew Forss - Inside World Music

"Midwest Record Album Review"

GINA CHAVEZ/up.rooted: Here comes one of those records that makes you hold on to your hat. Released a prelude to her first national tour, the Austin darling put this together with dough via Kickstarter and didn't waste a cent of the meager budget giving a big, bold sound that sounds like she spent every cent on every byte. A super sonic stew that feels like urban contemporary with a strong Latin edge, you can't reduce the sound to simple descriptors as there is a lot going on. A left field record with the kind of magnetic pull that could being top 40 to it rather than this coming to top 40, Chavez is a serious minded woman that really knows how to throw a party leaving egghead tendencies at the door. A killer pop record for people that are above pop music, this world beat outing will blow your world view wide open. A young feeling record that you don't have to be a youngster to enjoy, Chavez has been harboring and saving up her talents for a sophomore set that shows sophomore jinx is a myth perpetuated by the lazy. Chavez is the bomb from start to finish. Killer stuff. - Midwest Record

"Heavy Rotation: 10 Love Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing"

"La dulce cancion de tu nombre / envuleve mi corazon." The poetry of a love song written in Spanish has always reminded me of the subtly intense beauty of a ballad. It's one thing to say, "I love you." If you say, "The sweet song of your name surrounds my heart," you get a little closer. For my money, the words quoted above hit the same spot as a haunting Davis solo, with its hint of pain and ecstasy. Gina Chavez understands that: Her writing doesn't waste a syllable, and she gets right to heart of the matter — with a voice that knows its way around painful ecstasy. — Felix Contreras, Alt. Latino - NPR Heavy Rotation

"First Listen: Gina Chavez, 'Up.Rooted'"

Gina Chavez's voice stops you in your tracks the first time you hear it. At least that's how it worked for me when I came upon her performance during South by Southwest a few years ago. She was playing a semi-acoustic set on a sunlit patio above a busy sports bar — a setting not exactly conducive to her intimate songwriting.

But once she started singing, we hardly noticed the noise nearby. Chavez's voice reflects the one-of-a-kind meshing of cultures and influences that Austin represents: Whether she sings in English or Spanish, Chavez captures a healthy dose of American soul, country and rock music, and she could hold her own with any Mexican ranchera singer, past or present.

It's all put to great use on her first full-length album, Up.Rooted. Her first EP was a mostly acoustic affair, but this time she's produced by the prolific Michael Ramos (of Charanga Cakewalk), and he brings along extra instruments to give Chavez's songwriting a full-bodied treatment of cumbias, boleros and other Afro-Latino rhythms. The result is a great addition to the canon of musicians — of any stripe, in any style — who blend diverse influences to create a sound uniquely their own. - NPR First Listen

"Austin’s Gina Chavez sings brilliant new album at 502 Bar"

SAN ANTONIO – Two of Austin’s finest Latina singer-songwriters – Gina Chavez and Patricia Vonne – performed at 502 Bar on Friday.

For Chavez, it was a chance to present her new album, “up.rooted,” for the first time here.

Backed by a hot five-piece band (including a trumpeter and two percussionists), Chavez chose to open with the haunting “Fire Water,” a call-and-response chant propelled by percussion.

It’s quite possible that Chavez has a monster indie album on her hands. She is equally comfortable singing in Spanish or English and the material is nothing short of gorgeous with songs like “Save Me” and “Gotta Get.”

Her vocal are bold and clear and perfectly handle a wide range of material. Chavez put down her electric guitar and picked up the traditional charango, for the hopeful Spanish-language number, “Maiz.”

The folkloric song featured a pop vocal over a chiming synth arrangement and drum fills on an exotic bomba (belonging to her girlfriend, Chavez said) that would thrill any fan of “Pet Sounds”-era Beach Boys.

“This is the song that started it all,” said Chavez before singing the rhythmic “Miles de Millas,” a love song about desperate longing and separation.

Like La Santa Cecilia (when that young Grammy-winning East Los Angeles band was making its first inroads into S.A.), Chavez chooses to present her material with musicians heads and shoulders above many local and regional Latino pop bands are doing.

Chavez’s songs and singing are top-notch, but the bolstered musicianship means the various Latin rhythms and sweet cumbias kick ass.

This is extraordinarily creative, fun stuff. My prediction is that this is her moment.

Vonne, an S.A. native and a favorite here, opened her unplugged show Friday backed by violinist David Perales, and guitarist Robert LaRoche (both are respected musicians who can play lightning fast when needed).

She kicked off her set with “Pistolero” and “Morning After,” the latter drawing on the same inspiration and watery imagery of the late Saul Bellow.

The lanky, charismatic castanets-playing singer is promoting her latest album, “Rattle My Cage.” To go deeper into her catalog, she was joined by percussionist Alex Gonzales for the dramatic Spanish tale “El Marineroy La Sirena.”

But Vonne doesn’t mind taking a wild left turn down dusty roads once in awhile. Early in the night, she sang the Americana rocker, “Mudpies and Gasoline.,” a song which features the chorus, “We’re on a hellride.”

She is precocious, confident and kept the nightclub audience engaged (at one point, she jumped into the crowd to dance and play castanets). Fun was in the air, too, with her “Matchbox”-inspired song, “Sax Maniac,” as well as on the tequila homage, “Tequileros.”

For its part, the 502 Bar continues to impress as one of the best sounding rooms in town. - San Antonio Express News

"2013-14 Austin Music Awards | Best Female Vocals, Best Latin Traditional, Best Latin Rock"

Best Latin Rock Act
Gina Chavez
2) 24-7
3) Vallejo
4) Son de Rey
5) Vitera
6) Del Castillo
7) Brownout
8) El Tule
9) Cilantro Boombox
10) Joe King Carrasco

Best Latin Traditional Act
Gina Chavez
2) Conjunto los Pinkys
3) Son de Rey
4) El Tule
5) Luis Bañuelos
6) Susan Torres y Conjunto Clemencia
7) Trio los Vigilantes
8) Los Texas Wranglers
9) Grupo Fantasma
10) Mariachi Relámpago

Best Female Vocalist
Gina Chavez
2) Wendy Colonna
3) Sarah Sharp
4) Kelsey Wilson
5) Emily Bell
6) Emily Gimble
7) Kelly Willis
8) Patty Griffin
9) Tameca Jones
10) Teal Collins - The Austin Chronicle

"10 hot Austin music acts looking to break big this year"

Austin is positively bursting at the seams with creative talent. As the rest of the musical world organizes SXSW showcases and speculates about the next international star to surprise us with a visit, those hometown heroes are busting tail to build a little momentum. With 2014 in full swing, Culture Map Austin is spotlighting 10 local luminaries planning big things for the year ahead.

4. Gina Chavez

If anybody in Austin is mixing cumbia, bossa nova, reggaeton and old-school Latin pop to better effect than Gina Chavez, we’d love to know about it. This Austin Music Awards winner recently returned from eight months of mission work in Central America to write an irresistible album detailing the experiences of ethnically diverse women making their way in the 21st century. Best of all, the upcoming release of UP.ROOTED, to be celebrated February 15 at Stateside at The Paramount, will benefit the Niña Arriba College Fund, founded by Chavez to support impoverished young women in El Salvador. - Culture Map Austin

"Nanobot Rock Reviews: Gina Chavez, ‘Up.Rooted’"

It comes as no surprise that the common thread in music is the artist’s sound is a product of their environment. On occasion a sound will come forth that is not defined by a single location but a worldly experience and a vibrant heritage. One such sound is on deck to reiterate that music can knock down opinions by crafting a table at which social commentary and middle ground can meet.

The beautifully voiced, instrumental knockout that is Gina Chavez’s sound holds tightly to her own heritage and worldly experiences. Born from Mexican and Swiss-German decent and abundantly well-travelled, the eleven track multi-lingual serenade that is Up.Rooted is as vivid as it is moving.

Through a journey of dancing beats, hypnotic language and enticing rhythms Chavez’s sound fires up a soulful album that barrels over any and everything released in 2014 thus far. Even though world-class producer Michael Ramos (whose work includes John Mellancamp, Los Lonely Boys and Paul Simon to name a few) had a hand in the process, it is clearly evident that Gina Chavez possesses an essence of music that is so pure, so deeply attractive, and rare in today’s music that it practically flows out of her like a beckoning light at the end of the auto-tuned tunnel. The album’s chemistry finds sweet balance of new-age with traditional and when filtered through the imagination of such a talented musician it blends very well. The mixture is most prominent in “Maíz” but dances on romance with “The Sweet Sound Of Your Name” through serenading horns. To sum it up bluntly it would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that Chavez is a Latin/Bossanova version of LP. She possesses the vocal abilities to dig deep into your soul with her melodies but does so with finesse and beauty. In short, Up.Rooted is a lovely addiction you don’t need to confine to the privacy of your own home; let it out, let it be known.

Up.Rooted has no sharp edges and is indiscriminately inviting. But be warned, if you travel down this road you’re not likely to look back further than track one. Subtlety, Gina Chavez has molded a game-changing album. Her life has brought her to this point and we are lucky enough to be invited into her world. Don’t be a rude guest, bring a good bottle of wine and show. - Nanobot Rock

"Pachanga Festival showcases Latino talent across musical genres"

When it comes to showcasing the rich diversity within Latin music, the Pachanga Latino Music Festival offers something to please just about everyone’s ear, from hip-hop to cumbia.

The two-day festival, now in its sixth year, starts Friday night at Fiesta Gardens with headliners Intocable. Zapata-based Intocable has been successful in transitioning from Tejano music to Norteño and is now one of the biggest names in regional Mexican music, with multiple Grammy and Latin Grammys under its belt.

Festival Top Picks

Gina Chavez is a true Austin music treasure — angelic vocals and a devilish treat on guitar combined with a joyful stage presence. - Gissela SantaCruz - Austin American-Statesman

"2012-13 Austin Music Awards | Best Latin Traditional - Gina Chavez"

Best Latin Traditional

1) Gina Chavez
2) Los Texas Wranglers
3) Trio Los Vigilantes
4) Grupo Fantasma
5) El Tule
6) Del Castillo
7) Hector Ward & the Big Time
8) Los Pinkys
9) Manuel "Cowboy" Donley & His Trio Romantico
10) Austin Samba School - The Austin Chronicle

"(RADIO) New Latin Artists Playing At SXSW"

Jasmine: "So let me paint a picture for you: you've been at SXSW for several days. Your ears are ringing. You've been moshing and sweating and dancing. You're dehydrated; maybe you're crying; and perhaps bleeding. You don't know where you are. You're wondering where your pants went. And you need an audio palette cleanser while you figure what your name and last name are. I would suggest you check out Gina Chavez.”

Felix: “Gina Chavez is from Austin and I was really knocked out by that voice. Her music is a perfect combination of all these different influences and different styles. It speaks a lot to Austin because that’s what happens in Austin. The cultural mix of Mexican and blues and rock and folk and everything else from the United States is there. And she’s another proud example of Austin music.”

Jasmine: “Do you know who produced this?”

Felix: “Well, I cheated. I read the notes, and I saw that it was Michael Ramos from Charanga Cakewalk, which explains the really artful presence of the accordion in the music. Very very understated but giving it a very very Mexican feel with the choppy rhythm and the sparse instrumentation with the acoustic guitar. It’s a great bed under that voice.

Jasmine: “It also explains the charango, which she had custom made in Soyapango, in El Salvador.”

Felix: “A charango, by the way, is a small little guitar that’s used in traditional music in Central America, but especially Mexico, sometimes in mariachi, but mostly in traditional music.

Jasmine: “I also want to talk a little bit about what a socially committed artist she is. She spends a lot of time in El Salvador and she’s very committed to her work with immigrants and in shelters. She’s just a very socially conscious artist. In that sense she also reminds me of an Ani Difranco, Joni Mitchell-type.”

Felix: “A lot to admire beyond the music."
### - National Public Radio, Alt. Latino

"(RADIO) Super Bueno! Latin Music For Everybody, Part 2"

(minute 20:20)
Felix: We're gonna change gears a little bit. Quite a bit. We're gonna go to Austin, Texas. This is a song by a singer/songwriter named Gina Chavez and the song is Miles de Millas.

Robin: A lot poppier than some of the other stuff

Felix: Yeah it's a very different feel. Gina Chavez, like I said, is from Austin and I was reading an interview with her and she's just getting started in her career. She grew up speaking English and the cool part about her is that as she discovers her ethnic background, we get to go along for the ride because she's doing it through music. She was able to spend some time in El Salvador and different parts of South America and she's incorporated all that stuff. She's also an activist. She set up a non-profit to help young women go to college in El Salvador and she's using her music to call attention to things in different parts of Latin America. Like I said, along the way, she's learning about Latin culture. This is an example. It's a really cool piece.

Robin: I would call this pretty straight up folk-rock, but are there other things going on here that I'm not picking up on?

Jasmine: It's a cumbia beat.

Felix: There's a funky little slow cumbia beat, yeah. She's from Austin and whatever magic is happening in Austin is mixed in with this. I read an interview where she described herself as a folk musician, but in this case she's folk from this country, but also all these different Latin American traditions. It works either way, and that voice!

Robin: Yeah great voice. Wonderful harmonies, too. Does she have a band or is she doing all that herself?

Felix: I think she's doing a lot of that herself. She's working with a guy named Michael Ramos who has this other group called Charanga Cakewalk, which is an electronica takeoff on Mexican music and he helped her produce this track.
### - National Public Radio, All Songs Considered

"Latin Music Trends for 2012"

I recently had a very stimulating conversation with Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras. They are the hosts of Alt.Latino, NPR's program focusing exclusively on Latin Alternative music. Through an exclusive interview, I had the opportunity to ask different questions about one of the most exciting genres in Latin music. One of them was related to the current trends of Latin Alternative music and the kinds of things we can expect from this genre in 2012.

According to Jasmine and Felix, there are two issues that may be consolidated in 2012. One of them refers to the recent boom of female artists in the field. In order to highlight this phenomenon, Felix mentioned a few singers including artists like Mexican artist Carla Morrison, Luzelena Mendoza from the band Y La Bamba, and Indie Folk-Rock singer Gina Chavez.

Jasmine reinforced that idea by bringing the attention to the current boom of girl groups throughout Latin America. Some of these groups include bands such as Las Kellies from Argentina and Las Robertas from Costa Rica.

The other potential trend for 2012 could be a new popularity of Latin rappers who follow into the steps of innovative artists such as Calle 13, Los Rakas from Panama, Mala Rodriguez, and Ana Tijoux from Chile. This is, in fact, something Jasmine gets very excited about it: "One of the things I enjoyed the most this year were these mixes of Folk with Electronic, and I am wondering if next year it is going to be the year of Latin rappers. We will see". -

"Gina Chávez, una cantante local, se inspira en jóvenes salvadoreñas desde Austin"

Gina Chávez tenía ganas de ayudar y vivir en otro país, de preferencia un país de habla hispana. A finales de septiembre de 2009, esta cantante de Austin desembarcó como maestra de inglés en el Colegio María Auxiliadora, una escuela católica para mujeres en Soyapango, un suburbio de la capital salvadoreña.

La experiencia de nueve meses trabajando con niñas de 11 a 20 años inspiró a Chávez en una nueva misión que mezcla su pasión por la música y sus ganas de ayudar a jóvenes salvadoreñas a través de un concierto de recaudación para becas universitarias.

“Este año, se van a graduar 35 niñas, pero para ellas no existe la posibilidad de ir a la universidad a pesar de que la colegiatura cuesta $30 dólares al mes en El Salvador”, explica Chávez.

Ella misma conoce los beneficios de la educación universitaria. En su niñez, Chávez disfrutaba cantar pero no fue hasta que su madre lo sugirió, que ella se integró al coro de su escuela cuando tenía 12 años.

En la Universidad de Texas, aprendió a tocar la guitarra y a escribir canciones sólo como un pasatiempo. En cuanto se graduó empezó a trabajar como diseñadora gráfica e incluso a colaborar escribiendo artículos. “Sólo cantaba y tocaba la guitarra por diversión, pero no quería ser cantante profesional”, relata.

En 2007, Chávez presentó su primer álbum y comenzó a recibir apoyo para convertir la música en su profesión.

Su estilo musical lo define como una mezcla entre Anita Frank y Julieta Venegas. “Toco la guitarra con ganas”, explica.

Su primer álbum, Hanging Spoons, fue presentado en 2007 y ahora Chávez trabaja en un nuevo álbum donde el objetivo es mezclar ritmos latinos y electrónicos.

En su tiempo libre, es diseñadora de folletos y boletines de las organizaciones como la Casa Marianella, un refugio para inmigrantes, y para el Proyecto Defensa Laboral, donde también ha participado dando clases de inglés. - AhoraSi (Austin-American Statesman's Spanish-language publication)

"Gina Chávez, una cantante local, se inspira en jóvenes salvadoreñas desde Austin"

Gina Chávez tenía ganas de ayudar y vivir en otro país, de preferencia un país de habla hispana. A finales de septiembre de 2009, esta cantante de Austin desembarcó como maestra de inglés en el Colegio María Auxiliadora, una escuela católica para mujeres en Soyapango, un suburbio de la capital salvadoreña.

La experiencia de nueve meses trabajando con niñas de 11 a 20 años inspiró a Chávez en una nueva misión que mezcla su pasión por la música y sus ganas de ayudar a jóvenes salvadoreñas a través de un concierto de recaudación para becas universitarias.

“Este año, se van a graduar 35 niñas, pero para ellas no existe la posibilidad de ir a la universidad a pesar de que la colegiatura cuesta $30 dólares al mes en El Salvador”, explica Chávez.

Ella misma conoce los beneficios de la educación universitaria. En su niñez, Chávez disfrutaba cantar pero no fue hasta que su madre lo sugirió, que ella se integró al coro de su escuela cuando tenía 12 años.

En la Universidad de Texas, aprendió a tocar la guitarra y a escribir canciones sólo como un pasatiempo. En cuanto se graduó empezó a trabajar como diseñadora gráfica e incluso a colaborar escribiendo artículos. “Sólo cantaba y tocaba la guitarra por diversión, pero no quería ser cantante profesional”, relata.

En 2007, Chávez presentó su primer álbum y comenzó a recibir apoyo para convertir la música en su profesión.

Su estilo musical lo define como una mezcla entre Anita Frank y Julieta Venegas. “Toco la guitarra con ganas”, explica.

Su primer álbum, Hanging Spoons, fue presentado en 2007 y ahora Chávez trabaja en un nuevo álbum donde el objetivo es mezclar ritmos latinos y electrónicos.

En su tiempo libre, es diseñadora de folletos y boletines de las organizaciones como la Casa Marianella, un refugio para inmigrantes, y para el Proyecto Defensa Laboral, donde también ha participado dando clases de inglés. - AhoraSi (Austin-American Statesman's Spanish-language publication)

"Gina Chávez y el viaje en la 7-D que le descubrió el mundo"

En 2009, Gina Chávez, estadounidense, se enlistó junto a su pareja para hacer voluntariado en El Salvador. El azar la trajo hasta Soyapango y la necesidad de moverse de un lado a otro a la ruta 7-D. El viaje de esta "gringa en un país central", como ella se describe, le ha servido más que para componer una canción y ganarse un premio: ahora nos quiere poner a bailar y a reflexionar sobre nuestras desigualdades.
El miércoles 29 de octubre, a las 6:15 de la tarde, la cantante estadounidense Gina Chávez había terminado a tiempo una entrevista con un programa de televisión y estaba organizando su equipo para el concierto que brindaría dentro de dos horas en el restaurante Yemayá, en Santa Tecla. David Holiday, quien se encargó de organizar la gira en El Salvador, le dice que para nuestra entrevista es mejor moverse de la terraza del lugar porque “hay mucha bulla”. El colegio de al lado, que también funciona como iglesia, tiene un culto en marcha. Gina sonríe con la sugerencia y responde “esto no es bulla” con una risa entre dientes. Ella es católica y hace 4 años estuvo conviviendo con monjas, el ritual no le es precisamente molesto.

Chávez visitó El Salvador del 25 al 30 de octubre para promocionar su tercera producción discográfica titulada Up.Rooted. Hasta el 30 de septiembre, 25 días antes de que su gira empezara en este país, su nombre no era particularmente reconocido. Todo comenzó con el anuncio de que una canción inspirada en la ruta de autobuses Siete-D había sido galardonada como mejor canción latina en The John Lennon songwriting contest el 1 de septiembre.

Al ritmo de la fusión latina, Chávez narra su experiencia a bordo de la ruta que conecta Soyapango con San Salvador, y lo que para muchos es rutinario, la cantautora originaria de Austin, Texas, lo convirtió en una especie de lotería que rifa los contrastes de la ciudad y los pormenores del viaje a medida que el bus avanza y que ponen a cualquiera, por lo menos, a zapatear al son de la canción. “Superficialmente, los buses me sorprendieron porque son buses de nuestra niñez, nosotros [en Estados Unidos] los usábamos para llegar a la escuela. Es como una fiesta, apretada, mientras uno lleva un machete otro va cargando un pollo. No son tan aburridos como en los Estados Unidos”.

En 2009, Gina Chávez visitó El Salvador y por ocho meses la escuela María Auxiliadora de Soyapango fue su hogar. Más allá de que llegó hasta ahí por un programa misionero, su estancia fue toda una experiencia religiosa. Chávez se congrega bajo la Iglesia Católica y siempre se ha considerado una persona afortunada: nació en un país primermundista en donde vive cómodamente y su nacionalidad estadounidense le permite viajar sin problemas adonde ella quiere. Por supuesto que escuchó advertencias previo a su arribo a uno de los municipios más violentos del país, pero pensó que no podía pedir gusto, ya que, al fin y al cabo, venía como parte de un voluntariado. Al finalizar, sin embargo, su percepción había cambiado por completo. El shock emocional, cultural y social le habían penetrado muy dentro y la idea de que en tres horas ella volvería a una realidad completamente distinta la dejó intranquila.

A su regreso en 2010 del voluntariado con las Hermanas de María Auxiliadora, empezó a trabajar como diseñadora gráfica e investigadora en The Center for Public Policy, en Austin, en donde se encargan de revisar las leyes y su impacto en las comunidades más necesitadas. Además, su vínculo con las internas de la escuela fue tan grande que, por iniciativa de Jordi, su pareja, iniciaron un fondo universitario para apoyar a las jóvenes en sus estudios universitarios. En cuatro años, han logrado recaudar 20 mil dólares para pagar la educación superior a tres de las internas.

“La cosa que nos costó más fue parar nuestra vida en los Estados Unidos. Y vinimos aquí y queríamos llevar la vida de ellos. Vinimos para ayudar a la gente. Nuestra tarea fue crear un espacio en el que las internas pudieran disfrutar la vida un poquito, porque su vida era muy distinta a la de las otras niñas que podían irse a su casa. Fuimos mediadoras entre las internas y las monjas. Visitar El Salvador y viajar en bus fue una ola de realidad grandotota, porque así vive la gente, con estas cosas muy feas. Yo no sé cómo es vivir así. Todas esas cosas están dentro de mí”.

Gina Chávez en Yemayá. El setlist de este concierto de música original incluyó los covers de
Gina Chávez en Yemayá. El setlist de este concierto de música original incluyó los covers de "El sombrero azul", de venezolano Alí Primera, y "Todo cambia", del chileno Julio Numhauser.
Bailar. Esa es la misión que se ha propuesto Chávez con su nueva producción discográfica Up.Rooted, un ejercicio en el que mezcla ritmos variados como la trova, la cumbia y el folk, con letras en inglés y en español. Este es su tercer disco, pero, de lejos, con el que más se siente identificada. “Para mí siempre ha sido difícil, nunca me he sentido bien recibida por la comunidad indie en Estados Unidos con mi música, es un grupo muy cerrado. En cambio el recibimiento que me han dado aquí ha sido enorme, me siento como una verdadera estrella”. Parte de la gratificación que le da este disco es que le ha servido como un viaje por sus raíces. Esta texana de 32 años es descendiente de padre mexicano y madre suizo-alemana. Y aunque está consciente de todas las ventajas que le ha significado crecer en Estados Unidos, reclama un poco por ello: “si yo hubiera nacido en otra parte de Latinoamérica, no tendría problemas con el idioma y los ritmos fluirían de una manera más natural dentro de mí”, asegura.

La noche del miércoles 29 de octubre, al punto de las 8:30 p.m., Chávez y sus acompañantes tomaron posesión del escenario para presentar su alternativa propuesta musical con algunos covers incluidos. El lugar no luce abarrotado, pero frente a ella y sus laterales, hay suficientes personas, alrededor de 30, como para arrancar el concierto. El encargado del lugar se siente optimista frente a la convocatoria final que tuvo el anuncio del concierto, aunque admite que por el día y la hora es difícil que se llene del todo, además de que reconoce que es previsible, ya que es música nueva la que se presenta este día.

Para introducir al público su música, Gina escogió Not a goodbye y The sweet sound of your name, dos baladas para poner un poco en ambiente a la audiencia, mientras terminaba su cena. Poco a poco el tono de las canciones fue subiendo y con Soy quien soy, su canción apología de por qué ha escogido la fusión latina para expresarse empezó poco a poco a elevar el volumen de los aplausos de los presentes. Entre una canción y otra, la cantautora iba explicando brevemente su incursión en la música, su paso por Buenos Aires en 2004, que le significó su primer encuentro con la trova y la chacarrera.

Luego del descanso, que se extendió por otra entrevista que tuvo que atender en el intermedio, Chávez regresó determinada a subir más los ánimos entre los presentes, a quienes sorprendió con un cover de El sombrero azul, la canción que el venezolano Alí Primera, del grupo Los Guaraguaos, compuso para El Salvador durante la guerra civil y que se convirtió un himno de la izquierda. Nadie bailó más que en su asiento, pero los vítores al final de esta pieza animaron la media hora restante del recital. La pausa entre canciones también le permitió presentar su charango hecho en El Salvador, el cual logró conseguir durante su voluntariado en 2009, gracias al maestro de música de la escuela donde estaba alojada. Para cerrar la velada, interpretó Siete-D, la canción que la sacó del anonimato de la esfera musical salvadoreña y parte de lo que la trajo de regreso. En esta breve gira por El Salvador, aprovechó para grabar el videoclip de la canción que espera poner pronto a circular en la web. No dejó pasar la oportunidad para hablar de su Fondo universitario e instar a los presentes para que, si les interesaba, hicieran su donación.

Contrario a las giras que suelen hacer los artistas que visitan El Salvador, que concentran sus presentaciones en San Salvador, Gina Chávez se presentó en varios pueblos del interior del país: Juayúa, Perquín, Suchitoto, San Antonio Los Ranchos, Santa Tecla y, claro, también en San Salvador. Admite que en lugares como Perquín y Chalatenango la gente no estaba muy en sintonía con lo que ella cantaba junto a Michael Romero y Samuel Foster, pero arrancó aplausos de la audiencia con su cover de Todo cambia, del cantautor chileno Julio Numhauser, que hiciera mundialmente famosa la cantante argentina Mercedes Sosa.

Como bonus, en su intento por hacer bailar al público con sus canciones, Chávez quiere hacer conciencia con sus letras. Si bien su disco incluye canciones de amor y una apología de su música y de quién es ella, también introduce canciones en tono de protesta como Maíz, que ella misma presenta como un homenaje a quienes han tenido que dejar sus hogares para migrar a Estados Unidos. Sus denuncias no son gratuitas ni una estrategia para venderse en esta región. De hecho, su modelo de negocios suena con bajo volumen por el momento, ya que más que generar utilidades con cada concierto, busca el reconocimiento y aceptación de su música. Todos los conciertos han sido gratuitos y la gira ha sido gestionada con sus propios fondos. "Llegué a la música por mis amigos y por Dios. De pequeña nunca me imaginé que iba a estar haciendo gira por Centroamérica", confiesa. Se fue satisfecha de haber vuelto al recorrido de la Siete D y ha prometido volver. - El Faro

"20Nov14 | Norman homenajea al mayor d’Aubuisson, Un italiano en la guerra salvadoreña y ¿Qué tanto pasa en la ruta 7 D?"

25Nov14 | Cómo viajar gratis a Australia y Nos vamos a explorar el Campus Party
Publicado el 26 de noviembre de 2014 | Comentarios (0)
En este programa hablamos con Roberto Burgos, coordinador del Centro de Asistencia Legal y Anticorrupción de Funde, sobre los viajes del diputado Gallegos y de otros diputados de la Asamblea Legislativa. En La contraportada, Judith Umaña y...

20Nov14 | Norman homenajea al mayor d’Aubuisson, Un italiano en la guerra salvadoreña y ¿Qué tanto pasa en la ruta 7 D?

Publicado el 20 de noviembre de 2014 | Comentarios (0)

Hoy contactamos telefónicamente con Jackeline Rivera, diputada del FMLN, quien explicó que no habrán elecciones municipales en el exterior. En "Bajo la lupa", tuvimos a Giovani Palazzo quien explicó cómo llegó a El Salvador durante los 80 para retratar la vida diaria dentro de un conflicto armado. En "Contraportada", conversamos con Gina Chávez, cantautora estadounidense que ganó un premio de la Fundación John Lennon gracias a una composición que creó en honor de la ruta de buses 7D de Soyapango. - El Faro Radio

"Conversamos con Gina Chavez"

Somos comunicadores y amigos. Transmitimos desde El Salvador todas las mañanas. Acá está nuestro archivo de podcast de los programas que hacemos tanto en 107.7 Fuego como los exclusivos para las redes sociales - Pencho y Aida

"“7-D fue nuestra ruta al mundo”"

Gina Chávez (de ascendencia mexicana y suiza-alemana) es una cantautora estadounidense que este año ganó la categoría latina del prestigioso Concurso de Composición de Canciones John Lennon, con “Siete D”, un tema basado en la ruta de autobuses que hace su recorrido entre Soyapango y San Salvador.

Gina relata en esta entrevista que “Siete D” representa un homenaje a la alegría y al espíritu de los salvadoreños, pero también a la desigualdad entre los seres humanos que pudo ver a través de las ventanas del bus de la ruta 7-D, mientras radicó ocho meses en el país, entre 2009 y 2010.

¿De dónde nació la inspiración para componer “Siete D”?

Lo que sucedió fue que viajé a El Salvador con una amiga para enseñar inglés en la Escuela Salesiana María Auxiliadora, en Soyapango. El primer fin de semana de nuestra estadía en Soya quisimos salir a conocer San Salvador y nos dijeron que la mejor ruta para llegar a cualquier conexión era la 7-D. Ese primer viaje por la ciudad en bus para mí fue un poco raro por ver tanta pobreza, champas afuera de Soyapango y luego de ver tanta pobreza llegar a un lugar de lujos como La Gran Vía, por ejemplo.

Entonces ese contraste causó un impacto en la compositora...

Sí, fue como cruzar del tercer mundo al primer mundo en unas horas. Me tocó mucho ver esa realidad, me afectó mucho y todavía tengo esas imágenes en mi mente y en mi corazón. Así nació la canción “Siete D” que fue nuestra ruta al mundo, ese nuestro mundo chiquito en El Salvador.

¿Por qué escogiste esa canción para participar y lograr ganar el premio de la Fundación John Lennon a mejor composición latina?

Para mi nuevo álbum escribí tres canciones en español y todas son especiales. Pero la canción “Siete D” es única porque se trata de recuerdos y es un homenaje al lindo país de El Salvador y a su gente tan bella. Esos ocho meses que viví en El Salvador marcaron una gran época en mi vida. Abrí los ojos a la disparidad del mundo y también al espíritu fuerte y bello de la gente de El Salvador.

¿Puedes explicar la relevancia de ganar el premio John Lennon?

El certamen fue fundado por Yoko Ono, quien fue la esposa de John Lennon, quien fue uno de los compositores más famosos del mundo. Hoy en día es uno de los concursos de compositores más importantes de los Estados Unidos y del mundo, así que la competencia es internacional. Un certamen como el de John Lennon le da a los artistas independientes un alto reconocimiento. Gaby Moreno, de Guatemala, ganó la misma categoría en 2006 y con ese reconocimiento ha logrado forjar una carrera exitosa, pues el año pasado se llevó el Grammy y este año fue uno de los jueces del concurso de composición John Lennon. Me siento tan honrada de que una artista como ella y otros de gran prestigio hayan podido escuchar “Siete D” y recibir el mensaje de esta canción que está tan cerca de mi corazón.

¿Qué quieres que tu público conozca con la canción “Siete D”?

Escribí la canción como un homenaje para la cultura y la gente de El Salvador, a sus tristezas, alegrías y al espíritu latino que nunca se da por vencido. Y también porque (los salvadoreños) nos aceptan a todos con los brazos abiertos y porque aguantan tanta pobreza y desigualdad sin quejarse. “Siete D” para mi banda musical es una de las canciones más importantes de nuestro espectáculo en vivo porque hace mover a la gente, pero no solamente el cuerpo, sino también el corazón. A través de esta canción cuento mis experiencias en El Salvador y momentos que pasé con las alumnas con las que compartí en la escuela. Ellas fueron como nuestras hermanas.

¿Alguien te habló antes sobre algunos peligros de viajar en bus?

Sí, pero nosotros queríamos vivir como las estudiantes. Recuerdo que una vez quisimos tomar el bus 7-D, pero lo esperamos y no pasaba. Al siguiente día leímos en la prensa que no trabajaron porque los dueños de los buses estaban enojados porque las maras estaban matando a los conductores y cerraron la ruta por un día. Todavía no entiendo ese tipo de violencia, es algo sin razón.

¿El tema también pretendía cambiar la percepción que muchos pueden tener de los buses en El Salvador?

Realmente solo quería contar mi experiencia. Salir en bus en El Salvador también es como una fiesta, el sonido del reguetón, hay tanta gente, es diferente y una locura también (ríe). Por eso la canción es alegre. Porque nuestra experiencia en El Salvador también fue alegre, y, aunque hay violencia, el mensaje que queremos dejar es que no se den por vencidos y no tengan miedo. Hay cosas malas que están pasando, pero también debemos seguir adelante. Por eso la canción “Siete D” tiene un sonido latino alegre, mi música es una fusión de distintos estilos. - La Prensa Grafica

"Gina Chavez: When Music Meets Activism (4.7.15)"

While it may seem like Austin songstress Gina Chavez already has an impressive track record in music, the truth is, she’s only getting started. In just one year, Gina Chavez has accomplished more than most: she’s released a compelling and defining album titled Up.Rooted, in which she explores her Latin roots, she’s been featured on NPR Music, and she was crowned Musician of the Year at the Austin Music Awards while also racking up Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Latin band of the year and the AMP Esme Barrera Award for Music Activism and Education. To add to her growing list of wow-moments, Austin mayor, Steve Adler, just recently declared April 2nd “Gina Chavez Day.” But even with so much success in the past and surely more to come, this Texas native knows her work is not yet done and is inspired to do more than stun crowds with her effortless talent, beautiful voice, and guitar. To Chavez, community matters and she can thank her Catholic upbringing for that.

Aside from the music, Gina Chavez has focused her attention on not only uplifting young women in struggling communities, but also sending them to school to continue their education through Niñas Arriba, a college fund founded by Chavez and her partner to send young girls in communities of El Salvador to college.

Now, she’s preparing for the benefit concert of a lifetime, featuring Austin hip-hop husband and wife duo Riders Against the Storm, orchestral rock band Mother Falcon and a video premiere from the rising star herself for her high energy, community-inspired single Siete D. Gina Chavez sat with us to talk about her start in music, how she’s been influenced by the community, her faith and what the Ninas Arriba college fund is all about.

When and how did you first get your start in music?

It was actually when I couldn’t get into art class at Lamar Middle School. My mom said to me, “Gina, you’ve always loved singing, why don’t you try choir?” And of course, this was during the pre-Glee years before choir was cool. So, I got into choir and quickly realized, I’m alright at this (laughs). Then, I picked up a guitar when I was 18. I had just gotten to UT and I saw a Tony Price show down at the Continental Club. She doesn’t play guitar, but I thought to myself, I want to do what she’s doing but I don’t want to have to wait for somebody to accompany me. So, I picked up a guitar and it was pretty natural. It all fell into place. Then, I tried to do cover songs, but I was too lazy to learn other people’s songs and I started writing my own (laughs). It was pretty natural for me to start writing too. That’s how I got my start.

Your music is so diverse – there’s a little pop, a little latin, folk and even rap. What’s your creative process like and what influences you to diversify your work?

A lot of times, if I listen to somebody’s album or I go to a show, they might have a really solid sound, but if they don’t catch my attention by doing something different then I think, okay, well they nailed that one thing pretty well. Now, at the same time, that is a lot easier to market because you fit into a box. I think for me, that’s actually been one of the challenges. For the longest time, before I really landed on Latin music, I remember having a very serious debate with myself. I loved Celtic music and I loved bluegrass and blues, but not straight up. I didn’t really know where to go.

The more I really dove into Latin music, the more I discovered this personal connection because it’s who I am and then the fans loved it. For instance, I would play at Mozart’s Coffee Shop where no one’s listening to you and you’re totally background music. But inevitably, the one song they would come up to me and talk about was the one spanish song off of my first record called Embrujo. They’d say, “Man, do you have anymore of that Flamenco stuff?” And it’s not Flamenco but it was the closest thing they could compare it to. So, the more that I dove into that, I found this nice synergy of what I love to do and what the fans really like too. It’s a fusion of [the band’s] influences and what’s happened is we’ve come up on a sound of our own.

There’s also a sense of culture and activism embedded in your music and you’re also active in the community outside of music – any particular life experiences that have shaped that activism and artistic passion?

I remember being in a high school youth group. We had a presenter talk to us about homelessness in Austin. We went on a 30-hour hunger strike and then made sandwiches while still fasting. We took them down to the homeless on the drag. I think that was one of the first experiences opening my eyes to other things going on in the community and the injustice of it. And I’m realizing that I’m extremely blessed and I’ve been very well-loved all my life. That’s not an experience that even half the people in the world have. I’ve always been very conscious of that inequity and also battling a lot of guilt over that. Why was I dealt such a great hand and so many people weren’t?

I’ll entice people with rhythm and sound and once they really get into the music, they get to keep discovering these levels within the music. So, yes, we’ll make your hips move first, then we’ll make your heart move.

I was also involved in something called Just Faith about Catholic social teaching. It was a really intense, 6 month look at our world. We looked at things locally and we looked at things in our world. We learned about living in solidarity with people, which doesn’t mean, “Oh, poor homeless person,” and then you walk off. It’s the idea that you live with them, they are your brother and sister. Unfortunately, this is best kept secret of the Catholic church. But I really connect to those things in my faith. That’s a big reason why I’m still practicing Catholic, even though I’m a lesbian (laughs). I think there’s just something in me that gets it. I get that life sucks for a lot of people. There’s also a responsibility for us to do what we can to help each other and what better platform than a microphone. Now, at the same time, I try to ride the line between being a great musician and having an agenda. But the folk in me wants to have songs that have meaning. So I’ll entice people with rhythm and sound and once they really get into the music, they get to keep discovering these levels within the music. So, yes, we’ll make your hips move first, then we’ll make your heart move. I love that.

And who’s your favorite artist out right now?

Honestly, I am so excited about Stromae. Phenomenal. He writes as if he’s observing human interaction, like a documentarian or a journalist. He sings in French, with a pop/dance sound, but his lyrics are so hard hitting. The other thing that intrigues me is that every song is varied. He uses rhythms from Africa – he’s Rwandan and Belgian – his dad was killed in the Rwandan genocide, so he has a pretty rich story. He looks androgynous and does interesting things with male and female dress and acting on stage. He’s very socially intriguing.

You bring a lot of visibility to some underserved groups, especially as an LGBT woman. In what ways does that influence your music and impact your career?

I haven’t received backlash from coming out. I treated it gingerly because I’m Catholic and it’s just tough in certain circumstances. But I think more and more, I’ve been open about [my sexuality] and honestly, I’ve been really supported by all of my communities, even people at church. I remember there was this article that came out in Austin360’s Out & About. It just had a sentence or two about me and my partner and I had people come up to me in church and say, “Hey, I read that article. I’m so proud that you talked about that.” So, I don’t think I’ve been discriminated against in that regard, but at the same time, Jodi and I are coming up on nine years together and I’m going to have to put a ring on it soon [laughs]. Coming closer to the inequality that exists in our law, I think I’m going to start feeling it a little more in my heart, than just knowing it in my head. And it’ll be interesting to see how that comes out in my music.

Switching gears a little, can you tell me about your college fund Ninas Arriba and also your upcoming benefit?

In 2010, my partner Jodi and I spent 8 months in El Salvador. We lived in a gang-dominated part of San Salvador called Soyapango. We lived with Catholic nuns as part of a Catholic group called Vides, which is a really cool program. It was essentially like living on a compound.

Gina Chavez FinalMost of our job was to be with the girls in need, in the internado, which is similar to a boarding school. There were 800 girls that went to the school and we taught English classes. 18 girls lived at the school, so they became like sisters to us. We dealt with all of their drama, we woke up super early in the morning with them to do prayers and chores. But at the end of the 8 months, we got to go back to our first world country and they had to stay there. It’s hard. It’s hard to leave knowing you got to go back to your comfortable life and these girls live where you may wake up one morning and twenty feet from your door is a chalk drawing of someone who was shot the night before.

So, we had a conversation with a senior class that we taught. We asked who wanted to go to college and everyone raised their hand and then we asked who was going to college and every hand dropped. It’s just completely unaffordable for them. We had four girls who were seniors at the time, so we thought, what if we started a college fund to try to send them to school? Then we decided to raise money through benefit concerts. That’s how it all started. Today, we’re supporting four girls and two will graduate next year. We’ve raised about $25,000 in the past five years and through benefit concerts and individual giving. So, with this April benefit, anything over production costs goes straight to the girls.

I think in every community across the world, education is the key, especially for girls. There’s something about educating women, that because of the way they are, they can uplift their communities. So, these girls are like sisters to us and if the fund stops after the four graduate then so be it, but maybe we can continue and make it bigger and continue to help the girls in these communities.

What’s the backstory behind Siete D? It’s such a fun song, but there’s also a story behind it.

The first weekend in El Salvador, the volunteers we were replacing showed us the ropes. One of the volunteers offered to take us to the bus to get to the nice part of town in case we wanted to go see a movie or something. In El Salvador, there are no bus stops. You literally stand on the street and they pick you up. So, the volunteer tells us we’re going to take the Siete D (Seven D) because it’s the best one and it’ll take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. We stand there and wait for the Seven D and it doesn’t come. If you’re waiting for longer than three minutes for a bus in El Salvador, something’s wrong. The next day we read in the newspaper that the owners were so angry at the gangs for killing their bus drivers that they shut the route down for a day. Talk about a reality check. So, I think from that moment, the Seven D route had a special place in my heart. This song is a look at El Salvador, a mini scrapbook of our travels and experiences from a seat on the Siete D bus.

I didn’t write it to be a celebration of El Salvador but we put it up online and El Salvador found out about it. They called me for an extensive interview and then ran this gorgeous spread in their major newspaper. We received about 42,000 views in two days on a live version we did on Balcony TV. We went on tour there right after this article came out and it was like being famous. It was absolutely nuts. I never even meant for this song to be something that would make them proud. It still blows my mind.

If you had to describe your music in one word, what would it be?

I’m going to say Embrujo and that is the spanish word for “spell.” I’d like to say there’s some element of mystery in my music, even though I’m an open book. I’d like to think that the way we connect with an audience has some element of mystique or magic.

Interview by Megz Tillman
L Style G Style – Storyteller of the Austin LBGT Community. - L Syle G Style

"Gina Chavez Video Release Fills the Stateside: Newly minted Musician of the Year has come a long way in a year"

Filling the State Theatre with Black Fret donors Saturday night, Gina Chavez debuted the music video for her Austin Music Awards Song of the Year, “Siete-D.” The evening raised almost $12,000 for Niñas Arriba, the nonprofit she and partner Jodi Granado founded to send girls from El Salvador to college.

On her way to another gig, Elizabeth McQueen kicked off the evening with a shortened set from her electro trio EMQ. The local firebrand introduced a sultry cut from Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers Lazaroff, “Mind of Men,” written during her tenure on the testosterone-filled Asleep at the Wheel tour bus.

“They don’t care if they buy it or if they break it,” she snarks. “They don’t care what you’re saying as long as you shake it.”

Mother Falcon came in to roost after intermission, previewing tracks from their upcoming LP, recorded in Rhode Island. Building from a feathery murmur into a flurry of activity, the 12-piece rock opera seemed relieved after each successful run-through.

“That’s the first time we’ve played that,” said cellist/vocalist Nick Gregg.

Halfway through, the ensemble abandoned its instruments and gave cellist Diana Burgess a chance to preview her upcoming senior recital at the UT Butler School of Music. Though clearly uneasy being the sudden focal point, she wove a heartbreaking soliloquy, earning a standing ovation. The evening’s emcees, Riders Against the Storm, were overcome.

“What you don’t know is every time they play an angel gets its wings,” said Chaka, looking toward the heavens.

As “Siete-D” projected a recent trip back to El Salvador, Chavez broke into “Fire Water” from sophomore LP up.rooted. Full cop mustache twisted with his grin, Jerry Ronquillo staked his claim as the happiest percussionist in town. A guest spot from Riders Against the Storm spiced up “Embrujo,” the track that caught the ear of producer extraordinaire Michael Ramos and kickstarted the events that led to her sweep of the AMAs last month.

“It’s weird to be back in this space,” admitted Chavez, referring to last year’s CD release. “That night was like my wedding night. I was backstage freaking out. I don’t even remember what happened that night.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to do that tonight.’”

Nueva cancion anthem “Todo Cambia” closed the first of two sets totaling an hour. It began with just Chavez’s lilting vocals and plucked charango, eventually building into a proper chorus as RAS, Elizabeth McQueen, and the entire band belted in unison. Mother Falcon then reappeared to add much-needed heft to “The Sweet Sound of Your Name.” - Austin Chronicle

"SXSW Live Shot: Austin Music Awards: Sold-out extravaganza reiterates there's no place like home (3.19.15)"

SXSW Live Shot: Austin Music Awards
Sold-out extravaganza reiterates there’s no place like home
By Doug Freeman, 1:45PM, Thu. Mar. 19

Home can be such an ambiguously subjective notion. It hearkens where you’re from, no matter how far away ambition takes you. Take rising stars Gary Clark Jr. and Shakey Graves, two locals now aligned with the road.

Home also beckons as a destination, a place and community to discover, as it did for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee for both the Small Faces and Faces, Ian McLagan, who called Austin home for the final 20 years of his life. And home encompasses the people you love, as 2015 Austin Music Awards queen Gina Chavez, who took home Best Musician, Album, Song, and Latin Artist of the Year, declares on her stellar 2014 sophomore LP, up.rooted: “All I know, my home is your heart.”

The theme of this year’s 33rd Austin Music Awards, led by organizers Celeste Quesada and house band leader Charlie Sexton, announced “All Roads Lead to Austin.” It could have equally acknowledged “All Roads Lead Home.” For those born locally and those migrating here daily, Austin in all its ever-changing, rapidly growing, intransigently nostalgic inertia remains home.

Nowhere does that manifest more powerfully than in the city’s music.

“This evening is not a competition. It’s a celebration of Austin Music,” offered Austin-via-Austria transplant Ulrich Ellison in accepting Best Blues/Funk/Soul Band. “We are all in this together as a community, and we have to make people remember that music is the beating heart of Austin.”

Outlaw poet, Billy Joe Shaver, set the same theme in an opening musical benediction, extolling his founding Texan lineage with “Heart of Texas,” and recent Long in the Tooth cuts “Hard to be Outlaw” and the biting “The Git Go.”

AMA hosts Rick McNulty and Laurie Gallardo moved the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony along with energy for the sold-out crowd, while Sexton, a musical wrangler if there ever was one, led the all-star house group of Michael Ramos, George Reiff, and Conrad Choucroun through a dexterous stylistic range between awards.

Austin’s female powerhouses shone throughout the evening, in plaques and performances. The Viva la Diva segment stunned with reworkings of Austin-related songs, from Dana Falconberry’s lazing psych-folk cover of Bill Callahan’s “Jim Cain” and Jazz Mills’ quaking take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” to the immaculately hard twang of Sunny Sweeney on Lucinda Williams’ “Can’t Let Go” and Carson McHone wringing Willis Alan Ramsey’s “Painted Lady.”

Tameca Jones belted a showstopping R&B reimagining of new Austin Music Hall of Fame inductee Blaze Foley’s “If I Could Only Fly.” Gina Chavez pulled poignantly on Patty Griffin’s “Useless Desires” and Nina Diaz rocked aggressive to David Garza’s “Disco Ball World.”

Bringing together alumni from Stephen F. Austin High, Suzanna Choffel kicked off the reunion set before ceding the spotlight to a solo Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) side-stage. Garcia then passed the baton to Spanish classmate Phranchyze (J.J. Shaw), as the local rapper worked the crowd. Saxophonist Elias Haslanger truly took the room to school by leading Sexton’s band through an advanced level 10-minute jam.

Those courses set the stage for Eve Monsees and Gary Clark Jr. to reunite like days of Antone’s past (and possibly future), the pair mounting a fierce guitar commencement alongside Sexton, with Monsees’ “Thing For You” segueing into Clark’s electrifying “Travis County.”

Closing out the awards, repeat Band of the Year, Riders Against the Storm, and sweeping diva Chavez both delivered emotional and passionate speeches, and signaled the setting of a new foundation of elite Austin artists.

Ian McLagan’s exuberant spirit hung over the entire evening, and as Sexton welcomed “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb and the Bump Band to the stage, the memorials transformed to enthusiastic tribute. With Ramos holding down Mac’s role on keys, the band worked through a moving “Shalalala” from last year’s United States and the Faces’ “Glad and Sorry.”

Tameca Jones returned to burn through “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” and Alejandro Escovedo reprised the Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Anybody Else,” which he recorded with McLagan before Mac’s death. Patty Griffin’s beautifully rendered “Never Say Never” set the emotional bar before special guest Steven Van Zandt emerged to lead the raucous climax with the Small Faces’ “Tin Soldier,” and Faces’ “Stay With Me,” Sexton, Newcomb, and the E. Street Band guitarist expertly trading licks. On closing sendoff “Ooh La La,” the crowd joined in on the extended chorus.

McLagan’s son, Lee, may have most appropriately expressed the spirit of the evening in accepting his father’s AMA for Best Keys: “My dad would be thrilled to be here. He loved this city so much. I hope he gave you a good time, because you gave him a home.” - Austin Chronicle

"Gina Chavez to Rock the House for College Benefit (4.9.15)"


April 9, 2015 By Jonathan Spindel

You likely know Gina Chavez just released her latest album, Up.Rooted, a strong release filled with catchy rhythms, energy and soul. Now she’s preparing to unveil the music video for the featured single, ‘Siete-D’, with a musical bash at The Stateside Theatre this Saturday, April 11. Featuring Chavez as well as local standouts Mother Falcon and Elizabeth McQueen, the concert will serve as a fundraiser for Chavez’s Niñas Arriba College Fund, which raises money to provide college education for girls in Soyapango, El Salvador.

Chavez sings with a voice reminiscent of the legendary female vocalists of the 20th century – powerful, yet nuanced; confident, yet intimate. Brought up amid the influence of lyrical songwriters like Patty Griffin and Ani Difranco, Chavez started her musical career as “a girl with a guitar,” singing folk style ballads of lyrical poetry. It wasn’t until she traveled to Argentina, studying abroad while in college at the University of Texas, that she discovered the Latin styles that would influence her current musical direction.

In Buenos Aires, she discovered an exciting style of Argentine music with rhythms she’d never heard before. “It totally intrigued me. That was my doorway to learning more about Latin music.” She dove into the Nueva Canción movement, a Latin American musical tradition that rose to prominence in the 1960s. Now-legendary singers such as Mercedes Sosa, Silvio Rodríguez, and Violeta Parra championed the movement, which was associated with folk traditions, poetic lyricism, and sociopolitical upheaval. Chavez was captivated. “It was very lyrically driven, yet had this Latin element, Latin rhythms that draw people in.” Of course, just like any Texan, she had previously heard plenty of Tejano, Ranchera and other styles of Latin dance music. “It didn’t strike my heart in the same way that some of the songs from the Nueva Canción movement did.”

So began Gina Chavez’s musical path toward Latin America. She developing a signature style influenced by strong Latin rhythms and Spanish lyrics, yet fresh and modern with contemporary beats and original melodies. Her performances are an eclectic mix of songs written entirely in Spanish, some completely in English, and some that are fully bilingual. “We take the listener on a journey.” No matter what language the audience prefers, the music always captures the crowd. “We grab their bodies with movements, and we grab their hearts with thoughtful lyrics.”

In 2009, Chavez traveled to El Salvador to teach English as a volunteer in a local girls’ school. Her destination was Soyapango, a city on the edge of the capital, San Salvador. After teaching and living with the school children for eight months, she felt a kinship with them. “They were like my little sisters.” After returning to the US, she wrote the song ‘Siete D.’ “It’s a snapshot of our experiences as told through someone in a seat on the 7-D bus, the route that connects Soyapango to San Salvador… You climb into old American school buses that are bursting with color and blaring reggaeton (Latin hip hop) as they tear through crowded city streets and hold on. On the surface, ‘Siete-D’ is a party song, but ultimately it’s a tribute to the spirit of the Salvadoran people who endure gang violence and extortion every day with quiet resilience and the most giving hearts I have ever known.”

‘Siete D’ won the international John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and shortly thereafter the band returned to tour in El Salvador. Winning attention from the Salvadoran press, they played to enthusiastic crowds and planted the roots of a loyal and growing fan base. When she returned to the U.S. she reflected on her volunteer experience and the impression it left upon her. “At the end of 8 months we got to leave and go back to our comfortable first world lives, and we knew that they couldn’t do that.” Despite the students’ will and dedication, they remained at risk to live a life of struggle, poverty, and violence. “We didn’t want that for them.”

So she started a scholarship fund for the girls at the school, with the ultimate goal of sending them to college so they may lift themselves toward greater aspirations. Hence the name of the fund, ‘Niñas Arriba.’ She started raising funds by playing benefit concerts. “It’s become more and more successful,” Chavez says proudly. “Our fans have really liked that connection. We’ve been able to marry the music with something more meaningful.”

Now is your chance to be part of this uplifting project. Catch Gina Chavez this Saturday at the Stateside Theatre in Austin. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Niñas Arriba College Fund, and you’ll have a chance to see some of Austin’s most talented local musicians. It will be a high-energy night of grooving and dancing to the global beat, and you’ll be the very first audience to see the new video for the hit song ‘Siete D.’

In addition to raising funds to make her vision a reality, Gina Chavez has also been the recipient of one of Austin’s newest, most innovative artistic support in the form of a grant from Black Fret, the music patronage society. Last year she was nominated and won a $10,000 grant from Black Fret, which helps local musicians fund projects that may otherwise be difficult to execute. Chavez used part of her grant money to shoot the music video for ‘Siete D’ in El Salavador last year. “I worked with a local production company down there to shoot the video. We got to shoot on the 7D bus and the girls got to be in the video,” she says proudly. “The support from Black Fret allows us to do things like that, and be able to take it to the next level.”

Ultimately, Black Fret’s mission is to support and promote Austin’s local music, which is as much a cultural gem as any form of fine art. “It’s peace of mind, knowing that you have those funds to work with.” Even when musicians achieve success and recognition, it can be financially difficult to acquire new equipment, record new tracks, and release videos. “It’s really amazing to have support from the community via Black Fret, knowing that the community is saying, ‘yes we want you to be able to put your energies into creating more quality content that can inspire and uplift people’”

Gina Chavez and Black Fret’s mutual as well as individual success is a big inspiration for us at The Society Diaries. You don’t have to be a musical star, or a big player in the creative industry to create a social benefit project from your passions. “Don’t be afraid to put something good out there into the world, and don’t be surprised when a good response comes back,” Chaves says. “And at the same time, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately [succeed]. It’s just about following your heart. Don’t be afraid to listen to what that might be calling you to. Dream a little.”

Join the fun at the Stateside Theatre this Saturday, tickets are still available at - Society Diaries

"Episode 367: Gina Chavez and Mother Falcon"

hello friends! i hope you all had a wonderful passover/easter weekend. i did. i got to spend some quality time with my grand mother and aunts on sunday morning for breakfast and a general hang. i love hanging out with them. i haven't done an "easter thing" for a long time. in fact, i can't remember when. in my culture you get gifts on easter. isn't that weird? i always thought it was weird. not that i wasn't thankful or grateful, i just always thought it was weird. anyway, episode of "drinking/cooking with johnny & aj" is up! this time we have a guest, emmy robbin and we make her mom's famous king ranch casserole! check it out here the link.
my guests for episode 367 are 2014/2015 austin chronicle music poll's "musician of the year", gina chavez and mother falcon's nick gregg! gina has a video release party and big show this saturday, april 11th at the stateside theater in austin, tx with special guests, mother falcon, elizabeth mcqueen. riders against the storm are hosting the show. the show benefits the non-profit, ninas arribas college fund. so, we have a great conversation about what it takes to put a show on in a theater, gina's sweep of the awards, how mother falcon makes it work with such a big group and much, much more. i hope you enjoy our conversation. i sure did. let's get down!
ciao! -jg - [Podcast] How did I get here? (4.8.15)

"[VIDEO] FOX 7 Music in the Morning: Gina Chavez (4.10.15)"

Gina Chavez live on Fox 7 Music in the Morning - FOX Austin

"Song of the Day: Gina Chavez "Siete-D""

At the 2014-2015 Austin Music Awards, Gina Chavez cleaned up, claiming prizes for Musician, Album (Up.Rooted), and Song Of The Year (“Siete-D”). Last year’s Up.Rooted is a tour-de-force, worth the seven-year wait. While her debut, Hanging Spoons, was more muted, Up.Rooted pushes Chavez’s songwriting into more interesting directions, matching bossa nova and cumbia rhythms to politically-charged lyrics.

Prior to writing the album, Chavez and her partner Jodi Granado spent eight months teaching English at a girls’ school in El Salvador. After returning to Austin, the pair established a college fund called Niñas Arriba for the girls, and the experience also inspired “Siete-D.” The reggaeton-influenced song–which also features Adrian Quesada and Grupo Fantasma–gets its own video release party this Saturday at Stateside at the Paramount, and it’s today’s song of the day. Take a listen and download below, and you can also see a Studio 1A performance of the song.

–Art Levy - KUTX 90.5 FM

"Gina Chavez Fills the Stateside Theatre"

On her way to another gig, Elizabeth McQueen kicked off the evening with a shortened set from her electro trio EMQ. The local firebrand introduced a sultry cut from Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers Lazaroff, “Mind of Men,” written during her tenure on the testosterone-filled Asleep at the Wheel tour bus.

“They don’t care if they buy it or if they break it,” she snarks. “They don’t care what you’re saying as long as you shake it.”

Mother Falcon came in to roost after intermission, previewing tracks from their upcoming LP, recorded in Rhode Island. Building from a feathery murmur into a flurry of activity, the 12-piece rock opera seemed relieved after each successful run-through.

“That’s the first time we’ve played that,” said cellist/vocalist Nick Gregg.

Halfway through, the ensemble abandoned its instruments and gave cellist Diana Burgess a chance to preview her upcoming senior recital at the UT Butler School of Music. Though clearly uneasy being the sudden focal point, she wove a heartbreaking soliloquy, earning a standing ovation. The evening’s emcees, Riders Against the Storm, were overcome.

“What you don’t know is every time they play an angel gets its wings,” said Chaka, looking toward the heavens.

As “Siete-D” projected a recent trip back to El Salvador, Chavez broke into “Fire Water” from sophomore LP up.rooted. Full cop mustache twisted with his grin, Jerry Ronquillo staked his claim as the happiest percussionist in town. A guest spot from Riders Against the Storm spiced up “Embrujo,” the track that caught the ear of producer extraordinaire Michael Ramos and kickstarted the events that led to her sweep of the AMAs last month.

“It’s weird to be back in this space,” admitted Chavez, referring to last year’s CD release. “That night was like my wedding night. I was backstage freaking out. I don’t even remember what happened that night.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to do that tonight.’”

Nueva cancion anthem “Todo Cambia” closed the first of two sets totaling an hour. It began with just Chavez’s lilting vocals and plucked charango, eventually building into a proper chorus as RAS, Elizabeth McQueen, and the entire band belted in unison. Mother Falcon then reappeared to add much-needed heft to “The Sweet Sound of Your Name.” - Austin Chronicle | Nina Hernandez

"Austin City Limits 2016 Day 1 Highlights: Radiohead, Julien Baker, Maren Morris & More"

From the get-go on the first Friday of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which kicked off its 15th anniversary over two weekends (Sept. 30-Oct. 2 & Oct. 7-9) in Zilker Park, the odds were largely in the fest’s favor.

Temperatures hovered near a blissful 80 degrees with low humidity and clear skies throughout a day with a decidedly diverse lineup: top electro stars (Major Lazer, Flume), reliable rockers (Band of Horses, Foals), the hippest in hip-hop (Banks & Steelz, Tory Lanez, Die Antwoord) and plenty of upstarts (Julien Baker,Maren Morris, Gina Chavez) -- plus a headline turn from Radiohead on the immense Samsung main stage, which marked the band’s ACL fest debut and fourth ever performance in the Lone Star State capital (their first was in 1995 behind The Bends, opening for R.E.M. at South Park Meadows).

Austin City Limits 2016: Where to Watch the Live Stream

After low-key opening hat-trick (“Burn the Witch,” “Daydreaming” and “Ful Stop”) off recently released ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool, plus a dreamy drift through relative rarity “Airbag,” the British quintet’s impish frontman Thom Yorkeriffed on a few lyrics from the Smith’s “How Soon is Now?”

“I go about things the wrong way/ I am human and I need to be loved/ just like everybody else does,” he sang.

Most faithful fans in the massive crowd would’ve likely disagreed with the former sentiment in light of the fact that all-in sing-alongs during raucous deep cuts like “The National Anthem” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” were as impactful as reverent quiets observed during hushed renditions of “Exit Music (for a Film),” “Give Up the Ghost” and “Nude.” And anyone observing, diehard follower or not, would’ve likewise concluded that love wasn’t in short supply during this occasion -- a colossal a cappella crowd chorus to round out ever-cathartic closer “Karma Police” sent the band off wearing contented grins.

Earlier in the evening on the tiny BMI stage, Memphis-based singer-songwriter Julien Baker didn’t have as easy a time. “You guys are missing Die Antwoord for me? How sweet,” she quipped as she launched into a set of solemn tunes off 2015 solo debut, Sprained Ankle, which stuttered somewhat to start with feedback problems, not to mention the general issue of battling the South African trio’s aggressive Zef stylings directly across the field. Yet, though she often appeared on the verge of tears, the amped up emotion only added to one of the day’s most powerful deliveries of rapturously raw poetry on key cuts like “Rejoice” and “Vessels” -- she’s an Olympian when it comes to nailing challenging high notes.

Radiohead, Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem Top 15th Austin City Limits Fest Bill

By contrast, Texas-raised, Nashville-based singer Maren Morris’ performance on the same stage a couple hours before was a country-fied coup. Sporting a baseball cap and reflective aviator sunglasses, a somewhat revealing green, lace-up top, denim shorts and knee-high black suede boots, the 26-year-old strutted and sashayed through a smattering of R&B-and-twang-infused cuts pulled mostly from June’s U.S. country chart-topper Hero, with the Gold-certified “My Church” -- which easily achieved the “choir” treatment she asked for -- as the centerpiece.

Award-winning Latin folk-pop Austenite Gina Chavez, on the other hand, told Billboard backstage that she feels “a responsibility to bring it” as an ambassador of local music. In favor of revealing any new material during her debut ACL fest set, she chose to up the dance factor by reworking bilingual cumbia tune “Miles de Millas” into a sizzling salsa number for the first time ever.

The fest’s first Friday was packed with myriad other standout moments, including a strong showing from local psych-soul outfit Los Coast, stirring stuff by Sting offspring Eliot Sumner, a raucous early turn from budding Atlanta rapper Raury and some cool, early afternoon grooves crafted by indie hip-hop trailblazers Banks & Steelz. - Billboard


Up.Rooted - February 2014
Miles de Millas (single) - 2010
Live at Ruta Maya - 2009
Hanging Spoons - 2007



Gina Chavez bio:
Gina Chavez is a multi-ethnic Latin pop songstress, blending the sounds of the Americas with tension and grace. She is an eight-time Austin Music Award winner, including 2015 Musician of the Year and Album of the Year for her sophomore release, Up.Rooted, which has been hailed by NPR, The Boston Globe and USA Today. She took home the Grand Prize in the 2014 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for "Siete-D," a song about her experience volunteering in a gang-dominated suburb of San Salvador where she founded Niñas Arriba, a college fund for young Latinas. 

Recently featured on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series and chosen as one of ten bands nationwide to represent the United States with the State Department's American Music Abroad program, Gina Chavez invites audiences on a journey to discover her own Latin roots through music. Backed by a talented five-piece, Chavez is winning audiences everywhere with a passionate collection of bilingual songs traversing cumbia, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton, and folk combined with dynamic vocals and sharp social commentary. 

 is available worldwide on iTunesAmazonSpotify. Physical copies are available at Waterloo Records in Austin, TX and online at CD Baby.

"An album as confident as it is refreshing" -The Boston Globe
"Her voice stops you in your tracks" -NPR
"Her writing doesn't waste a syllable, and she gets right to the heart of the matter - with a voice that knows its way around painful ecstasy" -NPR's Heavy Rotation

Band Members