Autobiography of a commitment (part 1)

The minute you dare to define yourself as a woman songwriter and guitarist you are confronted with a sea of incredulous faces. Could this possibly be “a job”? Any woman brave enough to pursue such a career is going to suffer from the anxiety of entering some commercial music market to be able to survive as an artist. The activity of writing songs and playing guitar aiming to gain a level of proficiency and beauty seemed to be bound to an equal level of sales on your account. Due to the constant bombing of the models of success, you get the pressure of your parents, friends and collegues that are also trained to believe in this competitive, cruel, capitalist, patriarchal paradigm as if it were actually “the real and only world where we name achievements and failures”. So, yes, I had fallen into that trap for many years and this biographical story wants to tell how I moved from that delusion to another world of thought.

I survived the experience of some years at the Conservatory´s martyrdom in Madrid and later I pursued a BFA at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. There I devoted myself to a prolific dilettantism doing music for animation movies, theatre, film, contemporary dance, with a specific degree on multi-focus guitar performance. When I came out of these diverse academic experiences I started playing in all kinds of venues: big and small theatres, international large festivals and little cafes, schools, hospitals, residencies for elders, churches, libraries, universities, parks and museums, through countries like Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, Germany, France, England, Holland, Indonesia, the US and Canada. Whoever is interested in my teachers check the bottom of this page.

I had just finished a BFA at Cal Arts and I went to Mexico where I got a job as a teacher of music aesthetics and guitar at the Casa de la Cultura in Tijuana. I invented and constructed The Music Box (La Caja Sonora) for the Children's Museum of San Diego together with the Mexican artist Carmela Castrejón. It was an interactive musical installation, a huge sculpture conceived as a musical instrument. That was in the mid 90's. We travelled to together Spain thinking we were going to repeat the success of the Music Box in Spain. But it did not happen. Way into the 2000s I remember being at times very tired and disappointed at the songwriters' scene in Spain that I found very competitive, cruel and unfriendly. I produced my first record called Paradoja (Paradox) mixing my songs with jazzistic arrangements. An A&R from Sony Music revealed the true mystery of my supposed failure: “The problem with your CD is that it must be listened to”. They were not looking for something that required any effort. It took me 7 years to deliver another record, Nanas Urbanas (Urban Lullabies). Whoever is interested in the story about how I convinced a multinational record label to pay my CD, check my blog here.

I decided to try New York. The National Dance Company of Spain was performing and BAM, I don't know how I gathered the courage but I found myself going thorough the back stage door of the Brooklyn Academy of Music ready to leave my CD to the attention of the programmer. Four months after this event I received a call form the programmer of BAM who requested to hear me play live, so he came to Spain to attend a mini recital I made up for him in my neighborhood and soon after I was performing in the same program where people like Concha Buika or Macaco (who where top lists in Spain) played in New York. A five stars hotel and my picture in a luminous publicity screen on the very corner of  Lafayette Avenue. This event was the closest I have ever felt I was to that dream of "success".

It was 2008, the concert at BAM had taken place and  I was back to normal life as if nothing had happened. We never know when things that did not bring the desired fruits produce other events that do become real turning points in our life. I was feeling very high thinking that absolutely anything is possible if I was able to be in the middle of New York having played at BAM. I then met the great Argentinian guitarist Juan Falú at El Taller Latinoamericano and saw the opportunity of playing for him when it was actually his recital. That was another of the significant "guitarrazos" that opened the door to the International Festival Guitars of the World in Argentina and I ended up participating on 3 of their annual meetings. That New York trip was very rich since my dear friend Bernardo Palombo (the director of El Taller Latinoamericano) supported my third CD project named at that time Subversiones de MúsicaTradicional (Subversionsof Traditional Music), that later turned into Juniper.

On this very same trip I had contacted the manager of special projects of the Town Hall, Kyra Popiel, who had offered me to play for children at a public school in the Bronx. That performance for Latino and black teenagers that had never exited their neighborhood, and for whom BAM was just as far away as Spain, sowed the first new seed in my heart. Right after my encounter with the children Kyra invited me to meet her master Don Manuel Rufino who was holding a ceremony with sacred plants over the weekend in the woods of Pennsylvania.