Musings and Music

Remembering the people and places destroyed "in the name of progress" 

I want to tell you about a song on my forthcoming album, We’ll Tell Stories, that is very special to me. 

I wrote El Corrido de Suaqui to tell the story of my mom’s hometown in Sonora, Mexico, that was among three villages destroyed in 1964 to make way for a dam. 

The people of Suaqui were told that their community, which had existed peacefully for 400 years, was not as important as the need to provide electricity for the region and more water for corporate agriculture. They were forced out, leaving behind their way of life, traditions and remains of their ancestors whose tombs now sit at the bottom of Lake Novillo. This picture shows the ruins of a church that becomes visible when the lake recedes. 

It’s heartbreaking to hear my family talk about Suaqui and all that was taken from them “in the name of progress.” The people and history of Suaqui cannot be forgotten. I’m proud to tell this story because as my nana told me, “To remember is to live. Recordar es vivir.” 

#VivaSuaqui #Corridos #Songwriting#FolkMusic #History #Family#NewMusic #Sonora

Why so few Latinx artists in country and Americana music? 

Latinx artists are missing from country and Americana music, but there’s no shortage of successful artists who love to rhyme “senorita and margarita” and sing about drunken escapades in Mexico. 

And all the spangled and embroidered costumes that country artists love to wear? Well, take a look at traditional mariachi styles and you’ll see where they got the idea. 

I love that the country, folk and Americana communities are embracing more Black artists. Now let’s do the same for Latinx artists so that our authentic music and stories also are recognized and respected as part of American musical traditions. 

Thank you to writer and truth teller Amanda Marie Martinez for speaking out on this in the LA Times

#latinix #latinixartist#representationmatters #americana#folkmusic #countrymusic#mexicanamerican #songwriter#songwriting #diversitymatters

We Are Not Over  

I’ve stayed in many AirBNB rentals and most are sterile as hotel rooms, stripped of pictures, refrigerator magnets and other clues about the life that takes place there after you leave. 

But once in a while, if you’re lucky, an AirBNB is a window into another person’s heart.  That was the case for a recent stay in Muir Beach in a seaside apartment where art, pottery, teapots, hand-woven blankets, African drums and sculptures collected for a lifetime were on full display, along with family photographs and remembrances of special times. 

Each piece of art was lovingly selected and carefully placed on shelves, tables and windowsills.  I found myself wondering about the story behind each piece.   Who sculpted Leticia, an indigenous woman in a clay canoe filled with lilies, roses and sunflowers?   Where did the stone sculpture of a nude woman come from, and what inspired someone drape a seashell necklace around her?  And what about the impossibly delicate blue-and-white tea set with handles in the shape of dragons? 

The bookshelves were filled with poetry about finding your purpose and place in life.   As someone in my 50s starting on a new chapter of my life as an artist, I felt comforted by the presence of a woman who forged a different path for herself.  And who deeply believes in female empowerment and love. 

It turns out the homeowner is a friend of the magnificent Alice Walker, who wrote a poem about her that ends like this: 

But then, 

In the night, in 

The darkness 

We love so much 

She lies down 

Like the rest of us, 

To sleep 

& angels come 

As they do 

To us 

& give her 

Fresh dreams 

(They are really always the old 

ones, blooming further.)... 

Who knows 

Where the newness 

to old life 

Comes from? 


It appears. 

Babies are caught by 

hands they assumed 

were always waiting. 

Ink streaks 

From the 


Left dusty 


The shelf. 

This is the true wine of 


We are not 


When we think 

We Are.


— Alice Walker 

From “My Friend Yeshi”