JPR Live Session: Raye Zaragoza
The Long Beach-based singer/songwriter has made a powerful statement of protest on her new album Woman In Color.
Early on in many artists' careers, a fortuitous moment occurs that accelerates momentum. For some, it's placement of one of their songs in a prominent movie, tv show, or commercial. For Raye Zaragoza, it was a self-made video she and her brother posted to Youtube of an original song called "In The River." Written in response to the events of Standing Rock, the song helped Zaragonza express her own feelings about what she'd seen to her friends, family, and limited Facebook followers. But after the video was posted, it exploded with tens of thousands of shares and hundreds of thousands of views. She began hearing from people all over the world who had their eyes opened to Standing Rock via her song.
It was a moment of clarity. "I never realized that those things were things I could write songs about. I was always writing songs about what I thought people wanted to hear," she says.
The multi-racial (perhaps the only Japanese/Taiwanese/Mexican/Indigenous?) performer was empowered by the reception to and success of "In The River' to focus her songwriting skills on the subjects and sentiments that she found herself journaling about: sexism, racism, murder, coming to terms with being a woman of color in a largely white music world. On her new album Woman In Color, Zaragoza has reached what she calls "Level 8" of fully finding her voice as a storyteller and chronicler of the human condition as she sees it. There is no telling how many more levels are to come.