On this episode of Unlocking Us
Meet Carrie Rodriguez and Gina Chavez, the musicians who created and perform the music you hear every week on Unlocking Us. Artists and activists, Gina and Carrie integrate stories, culture, and the heart of past generations into their music to create artful and hopeful futures. You can hear it in their music, and you can see it in their lives. I’m so grateful that our weekly Unlocking Us conversations begin and end with their soulful sounds.
Listen to the episode
“La Última Vez” by Carrie Rodriguez and Gina Chavez
“Laboratorio #15 ” with Eva Ybarra
“Todo Cambia” by Gina Chavez
A Song for You video series by Carrie Rodriguez
iAmericano!: The Musical soundtrack by Orkesta Mendoza and Carrie Rodriguez
Lola by Carrie Rodriguez
La Que Manda (The Woman in Charge) by Gina Chavez
Production by Cadence13
Brené Brown: Hi, everyone. I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us. I’m so excited about this episode, and I’ll tell you why. If you are a regular podcast listener, if you’re with us on Unlocking Us on a regular basis, you will know the amazing music that leads us into the podcast, and the amazing music that takes us out of the podcast. Well… You’re going to meet the musicians today behind that music. So the intro music is called “Muy Podcasty.” And the kind of outro music or what we lead out with is called “Oneder” spelled O-N-E-D-E-R, to find out why it’s called that, [chuckle] I had no idea. There were so many guesses about the title of the song “Oneder,” including one person who said, “Oh, I thought it was ‘Oneeder’”, which just really made me laugh. And then someone said, “Oh, I thought that was maybe how you said “wonder” in Spanish. But you’ll find out in the podcast why the outro music is called “Oneder”.
BB: So today, you get to meet just two women I love, respect, and think are amazing, Carrie Rodriguez and Gina Chavez. And I’ll tell you the story behind the music. I’m a huge… To separate me from music is to not know all of me. I have no idea whether that sounds like bullshit or makes sense, but that’s how I feel about it. Music is my lifeline. It heals me in times of pain. It brings wonder and awe and joy to my life. I love it. And so, when we were starting the podcast and I was listening to… I guess you’d call it canned music from subscription services or services where you can use their music, I just thought I can’t. I can’t. The bread of my soulful conversations in the middle cannot be this. I need soulful intro and outro to these conversations. And so I thought… You know, so Steve asked me one day, “So, what’s the pie in the sky?” And I said, “I’ve been listening to Carrie Rodriguez and Gina Chavez a lot. That would be the pie in the sky.” He’s like, “Text them. Email them.” And both Austin-based musician, singer-songwriters, and so I did. And they said, “We’re on it.” And within a couple of days, I had MP3 files to listen to. And when people… When my friends and I, when Steve and my kids listened to “Muy Podcasty,” they were like “That is so very podcast-y.” And I was like, “Yeah, aka Muy Podcasty.”
BB: So, Carrie Rodriguez, singer-songwriter from Austin, she finds beauty in the most amazing things, in the cross-pollination of diverse traditions. She melds fiddle playing, vocals with Americhicana attitude. She began playing the violin at age five. By age 10, she had performed as a part of a group at Carnegie Hall. And she continued the classical track in her first year at Oberlin Conservatory. She then shifted gears to pursue her true love affair with the fiddle, staying true to her Texas roots at the Berkeley College of Music. She’s released five solo albums, studio albums, three live albums. Three albums with legendary Chip Taylor, incredible Texas singer-songwriter. In 2017 Carrie founded a highly acclaimed ongoing concert series at the historic Cactus Cafe in Austin. It’s called Laboratorio, that creates and explorers Latinx culture and its contribution to the American Experiment.
BB: She’s also the composer and lyricist of an original musical, ¡Americano!, which ended its 27 show debut at the Phoenix Theater Company at the end of February 2020, ten consecutive sellout performances. Carrie lives in Austin with her partner and musical collaborator, Luke Jacobs, who is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter from Minnesota, and their son Cruz. And I’m going to tell you all about some of the cool stuff Carrie’s doing. And if you watch her “A Song for You” series, it’s like quarantine God relief. You’ll meet Cruz who directs the whole thing and produces it.
BB: Gina Chavez… I just smile when I think of Gina Chavez because if I need to fire up around something, I listen to a lot of her music and I’m like, “I got this.” She is a wife, a philanthropist, an award-winning independent musician. She’s a proud native Austinite and a 12-time Austin Music Award winner, including 2019 Best Female Vocals and 2015 Austin Musician of the Year. Her NPR Tiny Desk Concert has more than a million views, and her hour-long PBS special is available nationwide. You gotta watch “Gina Chavez, NPR Tiny Desk”, incredible. And you get to know her and really see her, it’s so good.
BB: Gina’s music is deeply personal, her passionate collection of bilingual songs takes audiences on a journey to discover her Latin roots through her music, as she shares stories of her life in Texas as a married queer Catholic. True, Gina and her wife met… This is the greatest story, at the Catholic Student Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Gina tours internationally as a cultural ambassador with the US State Department and runs Niñas Arriba, a college fund she co-founded with her wife for young women in gang-dominated El Salvador. And her first all-Spanish language album, La Que Manda, the Woman in Charge is now available everywhere. So this is just a soul balm, not bomb B-O-M-B, but balm, B-A-L-M conversation. I know that you will love and appreciate Gina and Carrie as much as I do. And this is definitely one of those shows where you’ll need to visit the show notes at the end to find out all the things they’re doing and where you can listen to them and learn more about them. Enjoy.
BB: Okay, so I have to tell both of you that people are obsessed with the music that you all wrote and performed for Unlocking Us. I mean, people love it. So… Two songs. [laughter] The first one you named, I remember when it came over for me to listen to tracks…
BB: Okay, they’re both laughing right now. The first one… Tell us what the first one is named.
Gina Chavez: I don’t even know, is it? Oh, that one’s “Muy Podcasty.”
Carrie Rodriguez: “Muy Podcasty.”
BB: “Muy Podcasty.”
GC: Well, okay, can I just say, I never expected you to actually put the names on your website as if the names [laughter] meant anything. I was like, “Oh my God.” [laughter]
BB: Because it’s the best named podcast song ever. And it was really funny because you sent us five tracks maybe, and everyone listened to them and everyone came back and said, “that one is very podcast-y.” And I was like, “I know, because it’s named Muy Podcasty.”
GC: Okay. Well actually what you didn’t know is that actually was the name of it, was “Very Podcasty” and I think I made a unilateral decision to make it cooler by calling it “Muy Podcasty.” Carrie, correct me if I’m wrong, but think we were calling it “Very Podcasty.”
CR: I have completely forgotten but that’s awesome, Gina.
GC: I bet you if we looked in our voice memos, it would actually be called “Very Podcasty.” Because that’s what we decided when we got together. Carrie, it was so funny because she started plucking and she was like, “Plucking, I feel like this is really podcasty.
GC: Plucking sounds, just sounds podcasty and so we both were like, “Well, it’s really podcasty,” that’s basically what the name is.
CR: That’s great.
BB: Yeah, I just fell in love with it. And then our kind of out song is “Oneder,” which is so beautiful. How long have y’all been collaborating?
CR: Well, the first time we collaborated was, what Gina, about 2015? Is that right?
GC: Sure. Well it was when you invited me to write with you.
GC: We met at the Songwriter Serenade which is a… Actually you would know more about the Songwriter Serenade but I’d entered as a contestant. Carrie was a judge and I ended up winning the contest. And I was like freaking out because Carrie, I have been following Carrie’s career in music and she was Carrie Rodriguez. Just getting to meet her was so cool, much less win this contest that she was a judge in, and part of the winnings was I think it was that night or the next night, I got to open for her at The Bugle Boy. And so we’re sitting in the back room at the Bugle Boy, and she and Luke were sitting over there and I’m just like, “Oh, my God. Carrie Rodriguez is right over there.”
GC: “Like I’m opening for her.” I’m serious. I was freaking out. So then I think it was maybe a month later, you were working on Lola.
GC: And you basically said, “Hey, let’s collab on a song,” and I freaked out again and then I said yes. And then we wrote “La Ultima Vez” together.
CR: Yeah, I was just blown away, Gina. Meeting you at Songwriter Serenade, I was blown away by your talent. It was like, “How do I not know this woman?” I’d heard your name in Austin constantly, but I had not gotten to see you, and it just is like, “Oh, my God. This is the most powerful woman I’ve ever seen in my life and here we are.” Yeah, it was just a month or two later, right? Writing a song together and then all these years later getting to collaborate for Brené’s podcast. How cool? Let’s keep it going, girl.
GC: Yeah, this is our second collab is you, Brené. So, thank you.
BB: What an honor. It was so funny because when we started the podcast, I’m such a music person and I’m such a singer-songwriter person. And they were sending me these clips and I’m like, “I can’t have this on a podcast.” And then Steve, my husband, was like, “Okay, just close your eyes… ” We were at dinner. “Close your eyes and tell me if you could have anything you wanted for your podcast. You didn’t have to worry about rights, you didn’t have to worry about anything. What would you do?” And I said, “Gina Chavez and Carrie Rodriguez would do something together.” [laughter] And he’s like, “You should ask.” And I’m like, “I can’t. It’s embarrassing.” And so, I’m so grateful because it’s such an important part of the conversation. And, as you probably noticed, we’re wading into some hard conversations on this podcast. We’re talking about Black Lives Matter. We’re talking about grief. We’re talking about… We’re celebrating the DACA ruling from the Supreme Court. You can’t see them, they’re both – can y’all make audible what you’re doing that I can see on Zoom?
CR: If I could do a really good prieto right now, I would.
CR: Thank you, Gina.
BB: Perfect. Yeah, so we’re talking about hard things and I just, and Steve’s like, “Why that music?” And I said, “I want to have soulful conversations, I want to have soulful music.” And to me y’all are soulful musicians. So, I want to dig in with each of you and just hear a little bit about how you came to be soulful musicians. So Carrie, we’ll start with you. Tell me about your journey to music, how you found it, what it means to you. I know you have a family history. Tell me about you and your love affair with music, if it’s fair to call it that.
CR: Sure. It started very early on in my life and I was just lucky enough to be in the right place, right time. In my public elementary school in Austin, they were offering Suzuki violin lessons to kindergarten students, and it was a pilot program. I think the teacher only had funding for a year or two and then it didn’t happen anymore. But I was so lucky to be at school, in that moment. And I remember walking down the hall during nap time and hearing these squawking, high-pitched little squeaky violin sounds coming from a room and saying, “I’ve gotta do that.” I don’t know why, [chuckle] but I was so drawn to it. And I went home, I begged my mother, “Please get me a violin. I have to do this.” So it really started there in public school and it never stopped. And that teacher who started the program, his name is Bill Dick, is still teaching here in Austin. And he was my teacher all throughout elementary school, junior high, high school, helped me on that journey of finding my way, getting into Conservatory, and I thought I would be heading into a classical music career. I think just growing up here in Austin, being exposed to so many different kinds of music, it just ended up being impossible to stay in that career path where I’d be playing music written by other people many years ago, even though it’s an amazing body of work. I ended up finding other things with the violin and it’s a lot to sum up in a short conversation but… [chuckle]
GC: Your whole life.
CR: My whole life. In terms of like finding soul and being able to feel deeply with music and express deeply, I would say that that classical background has a lot to do with it, and there’s just… There’s a depth there that is still with me, even though I’ve lost the… [chuckle] some of the chops, the soul is there. And then my first gig after I finished college was with a great soulful song writer named Chip Taylor. So Chip is known for writing “Wild Thing,” “Angel of the Morning,” but he also continues to write incredibly moving, sensitive, empathetic songs. And when I first started working with him, I had never sung before. That was not part of what I did. I was a…
CR: Violin player. Yeah.
BB: Wait, what?
CR: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t think I had any kind of decent singing voice, this was just not part of my skill set that I knew of. And so he hired me to play fiddle. I was like 21 years old. We start touring. I’m finding myself playing in Europe for amazing people and doing shows with John Prine. We did an opening, a couple of shows back then with John. And Chip had me sing a little bit of harmony then said, “How about singing a duet with me?” And I was terrified. I mean, knees knocking, like completely nervous. But that was the beginning of that. And a year later, we were releasing our first duet CD. And he taught me so much about believing 100% in the song, being in that moment, no matter what, connecting to that song on your deepest level, so that other people feel that. Not worrying about perfection, don’t worry about what your voice is doing in this moment, just worry about, “Are you really believing what you’re singing?” And I have taken that with me ever since. I mean that is the most important thing, and when you’re in a room playing for people, we just all want to feel. And music allows us to do that in such a profound way. So I’m always searching for that connection more than anything.
BB: So when I think about your music… So, first of all, if I had to describe both of you, in addition to soulful, you are both highly emotional with your music. You may be singing for fun, but I feel what you’re singing, both of you. So let’s go to Gina and then I have the same question for both you that I want you both to answer separately for me. So Gina, tell me about your trip to music, your walk into music.
GC: So, I always loved to sing as a kid, but it wasn’t until, I think I was in sixth grade, and it was… I like to call it the pre-Glee years, before choir was cool. Choir was not cool when I was growing up and… [chuckle]
BB: You were in uncool choir.
GC: I was in uncool choir. But before I even got into choir, I was in art, which was always cool. Right? And so I couldn’t get into art one year, and I sucked at art. [laughter] But I wanted to be good at it. And so my mom said, “Hey, you know, you love singing. Why don’t you get into choir?” And of course, my initial reaction was, “Ew, choir. That’s nerdy.” So I get into choir and one of the first things we had to do is sing Amazing Grace in front of the entire choir, which our choir I think was like 40 kids. It was big. And anyway, it was there, not only rehearsing at home, but then hearing myself in comparison to my peers that I realized, “Oh, I’m kind of… I’m okay at this. I’m pretty good at this.” And so of course, I think when you’re able to find a skill that you’re decent at, you like it better. And so I had great choir programs. I was also a public school kid, and the programs that I was in ended up turning into a fine arts academy. And it just shows the value of arts in the schools and…
GC: In our high school choir, we did everything. We did Mozart’s Requiem. We did show choir. We did dance routines. I was in theater. And so we had kind of a breadth, and that was really my training. I didn’t have any formal training. I picked up a guitar at 18 and when I went to college at UT…
CR: Yeah, a couple months.
GC: And… [laughter] I was a journalism major, I was not a music major. I don’t have any formal training really in music other than my choir programs. And I literally picked up guitar and was too lazy to learn other people’s songs. I started learning that song “More than Words,” and I was a new guitar player…
GC: And it has a bajillion chords in it. And I remember being like, “This sucks. I’m just going to write a two-cord song and it’s going to be great.” [chuckle]
BB: I love it.
GC: And so literally, that’s what I did. And most of my early songs, actually, a lot of my songs are still like two cords. [chuckle] And I think it was the beauty of that ignorance actually, I think propelled me in a lot of ways, because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I’m now at the point in my career where I do know what I don’t know and it’s really frustrating because I’ll want to find a cord and it’ll take me so long because I don’t have a large theory background. So, there are some things that are frustrating. I literally I had this app on my phone, and one night I was on tour with the US State Department. I’m in the Dominican Republic and far away from my wife, and we kind of had a fight over the phone. And it’s hard to make someone feel loved when you’re not there with them. So I just, of course, felt awful and I pulled out this… I’d just gotten this new app on my phone and it was just a vocal recorder. And I literally built an entire song with my voice in like 20 minutes. And then I spent the next 45 minutes trying to figure out what guitar chord to play in order to put harmony underneath it, and I was so frustrated. [laughter] I was just like, “I just built a whole song in 20 minutes. Like why can’t… ” And so I think it’s…
BB: But that’s an incredible…
GC: But it just goes to show you that having those tools… And actually, Brené that’s something I love about your work, is that the way that you give us vocabulary to move through some of the hard things is everything. Not only being able to speak to what we’re experiencing, but then giving people the tools to move through it is so important. And so I’m finding with music right now, that’s what I want. If I could go to school and actually learn theory, I’m at a point in my career where I would want to do that. But I think if I’d done that as a college kid, I think I would have hated it because I wasn’t there.
BB: That is so interesting, I mean, both of you… If there’s one takeaway from both of these amazing stories, invest in public education, art and music programs, right? I mean, like I can’t imagine a world without your voices. It makes me sad to think about the kids that won’t be talking about their music on a podcast 20 years from now, because those are the first programs cut.
GC: Amen. And especially… Like my wife is a public school teacher and right now, of course, quarantine time has been kind of nice for somebody like my wife because we don’t have kids. And so, she went from 14-hour workdays to two hours on a Zoom call with like six kids. And on some level being able to recoup her body and everything but then knowing that once they get back to school, they’re going to be the ones that are asked to make up for the learning loss.
BB: Yeah, and I think my 14-year-old son, Charlie, has just discovered guitar and music, and it’s unlocked something in him far more than chord progression. And a lot of Def Leppard right now, but yeah. So, the other question I want to ask both of you is… When I think about your music, I think about music in both Spanish and English. I listened to you play… I’m laughing because when we listen to you in the car… And Steve’s a really big music person too, but he’s also a big Tejano person music. He really is into Tejano music. And so he’ll say, “The thing about Carrie and Gina is you’re not sure if you’re listening to someone who wrote that last week or wrote that in 1941.” There’s something timeless, but there’s also a huge loving embrace of your heritage and your music. I want to hear from both of you individually about that commitment, that honoring and that tradition that you are just don’t… Neither one of you seem… You’re like, “This tradition will not die on my watch.” That’s what I hear when I hear your music. So Carrie, tell me about that?
CR: Yeah, it’s been quite a journey for me. When I first got started with song writing, it was with Chip Taylor, and we were in the Americana music world, which was kind of just getting started back then. This is a while ago. And I definitely leaned into my West Texas roots at the time. Half of my family comes from West Texas. My grandmother grew up in a town called Memphis, Texas. She used to go see Bob Wills once a month in her town square at a dance.
BB: And the Texas Playboys…
BB: Oh, my God.
CR: So I found myself kind of leaning into that, really embracing the fiddle. And my first recordings, I really leaned on that Texas twang. It just kind of came out that way. And I love country music deeply, I’ve always listened to it. It’s been around me growing up here in Austin. But about, I don’t know, halfway kind of into that journey and into my career, especially once I started doing solo records, I constantly had this feeling that there was so much of me that was not being represented in my music. And people really considered me to be a country artist or Americana artist. And I started singing one song per show in Spanish. I was just getting to know the music of my great aunt at the time, her name was Eva Garza. So she was my grandmother, not the one from Memphis, Texas, but my other grandmother who’s from San Antonio, Texas. She was her sister, much older sister. And Eva Garza was a big star. I mean, she was in Mexican films, she had gold records and was recording from the late 1930s up until the ’60s. And this is someone my grandmother always talked about, but I kind of thought… Well, I assumed she might be exaggerating a little bit.
BB: Right. Yeah, as grandmas do.
CR: Yeah, okay. But then once she put all of her vinyls, she had them digitally recorded and she sent me a stack of CDs. It was when I was living in New York and said, “Carrie, you need to listen to this. You need to know where you come from and the music that’s in our family.” And the first time I put on one of those recordings, I just sat down and wept. It was so emotional. And to understand that that is somehow in me, there’s some little thread of DNA in me from my great aunt, just… It’s mind-boggling. So that was the beginning of my education and my own family’s musical past and just in our musical history here in Texas, our bi-cultural musical history. I feel like I just hadn’t really been exposed to as much as I should have at that point. And so I started digging and I started finding all of my great aunt’s recordings, and then learning about her peers, people like Lola Beltrán, who’s one of our greatest, greatest, most soulful Ranchera singers.
CR: Some of my favorite male singers, Javier Solís… Just getting to know their music and also finding the connection between country music and Ranchera music. It’s the same thing, it’s like the Mexican version of country music. And so, with my last record, Lola, that was the first time that I felt like I’ve really found a way to represent all of who I am in my music. And I feel like this is a much more honest portrayal of who I am. It’s just felt so good to connect with the past and learn from it and feel like I can make something new that helps move me into the future in an honest way. And hopefully a way that educates other people like me who grew up in Texas and maybe don’t know as much about their own past as they’d like to.
BB: God, we are, as listeners, we are lucky for that exploration. So thank you for that because it is so beautiful. I just… Yeah. You had this beautiful video that’s part of a series, paying homage to some of these singers. Tell me about the woman who plays the accordion.
CR: Oh, my goodness. Eva Ybarra. She is a national treasure. So, she’s a conjunto according player from San Antonio. She’s been playing since she was six years old, I don’t know exactly how old she is now. She’s an older woman. First of all, conjunto music is a very traditionally male-dominated genre of music. Very few women participate. So to imagine this little girl, six years old, with a huge accordion. There’s photographs of her, black and white photographs of her playing with some family members and it’s just so inspiring. So I have this series in Austin that I started a few years ago called Laboratorio. And it’s basically a celebration of Latinx culture, through music, and we have an all-star band, all Austin-based, and we invite a different guest to join us for each performance. And every guest has some kind of link to Latinx culture. They don’t have to be Latinx themselves necessarily, they just need some kind of link. Well, our guest for one of the shows was Eva Ybarra and she is such a powerhouse. She’s probably about… I don’t know, she’s probably about five feet tall, maybe five one…
BB: Yeah, I mean, and she’s probably…
CR: She’s a petite woman.
BB: I’m going to guess maybe she’s 60.
CR: Oh, more than that.
BB: Is she in her sixties?
CR: No, she’s probably in her seventies. I don’t know, I don’t want to guess her age, in case she’s older than…
BB: Yeah. Yeah, okay. Yes.
CR: All I can say is…
BB: I just want to make sure listeners know that she’s not thirty…
CR: No, right.
BB: Like she’s… Yeah.
CR: Yes, she’s lived, and Eva is truly… She’s so petite, and yet she is such a powerhouse. She comes out on stage and she just owns it. Her presence is huge, her passion is outrageously huge. It’s like you can physically… If you’re out in the audience, it’s like you’re feeling… You’re being blown back. Like you’re on a roller coaster. She’s a virtuoso on the accordion. She is a super, super passionate singer, and I’m just so lucky to have gotten to know her and that she was willing to come be a part of our little show at the Cactus Cafe for 100 people. So yeah, I’m so lucky to get to meet people like Eva through this project and document some of it.
BB: So we will make sure we link to… And I think… Did Luke, your husband, shoot this?
CR: He did, yeah.
BB: He’s a filmmaker and a musician as well, right?
CR: It’s very convenient to have a husband who also can shoot some decent video. [chuckle]
BB: I mean, not decent. Like, I have to tell you that weirdly, we watched that video during a family dinner during quarantine, and my 20-year-old, my 14-year-old, Steve and I were both just in tears. We just couldn’t eat… We just had to put our… It was like forks down. And we were just like… Yeah, it was just so beautiful. So, thank you for that series. We’ll make sure if you’re listening right now, you can find it. You just have to see this. I mean, it is everything that’s right with the world to listen to this woman sing and the whole special is great.
CR: Thank you.
BB: So, thank you. Okay, Gina. So, I met Gina before she tells us about her commitment to culture and heritage, I have to say when I met her the first time, I was starstruck. And I was like, “Is that Gina Chavez? Is that Gina Chavez?” We were at an… We were doing an event together, is that right?
GC: I opened for you here in Austin for a…
BB: Non-profit, right?
GC: Yeah, I’m trying to remember which non-profit, but yes.
BB: Yes. It was like, yes, maybe non-profit education, I wasn’t sure, but I was like… And tell me about the song you sang.
GC: So it’s a cover song. It’s called “Todo Cambia”, and it was written by a Chileno named Julio Numhauser, and it was made famous by the voice of Mercedes Sosa who got talking about powerful women who use their bodies and voices as instruments. So she was an Argentine singer-songwriter who was a voice for the revolution, really, in Argentina at the time when the government was killing its own people, disappearing its own people. And as I’ve sung that song around the world, it’s been one of those that… You know, I started singing it because I think it’s pretty. And it’s got a great message, todo cambia, everything changes. But honestly, I’d never really… I didn’t know a whole lot about it. And as I’ve sung it around the world, I’ve literally had people come up to me, especially in Latin America, and say, “It’s really hard for me to hear that song.” I was like, “Why?” And they said, “Because I know people who were killed for singing it.”
BB: Oh God, Gina.
GC: And it’s just the power of music to… Especially against power. When voices unite in power, it’s the kind of change that is so scary, you can get killed for it. And that’s just… It rocks my world. And then I remember singing it in Hiroshima. I got to go to Japan to represent the city of Austin, and I was just thinking, I was like, “Here’s a Texan who didn’t grow up with her Latin roots, singing a song written by a Chileno, made famous by an Argentine in Japan, and they would not stop singing.” We’re literally sitting there in Hiroshima, and I call it the happy Christian fade out, like when you don’t know how to end a song and you just keep on singing the end of it.
BB: That is a happy Christian fade out.
GC: It was legit, right? And so I’m sitting there and I was with another songwriter, Nathan Hamilton, another fabulous Austin treasure, and we were supposed to be song swapping. And I swear this song lasted for 15 minutes because the people there are so… Like I said, “Isshoniutau,” which means sing with me in Japanese. And they just… Their faces just lit up and they were just like, “Cambia todo, cambia… ” and they’re just singing. And the song wouldn’t end. I was literally trying to do the happy Christian fade out, trying to get softer, and I’m looking over at Nathan saying, I’m like, “I’m sorry. No, I don’t know.”
GC: I was like, “I can’t end it.”
BB: I have to tell you that it was the worst opening act before I go speak because it took me 20 minutes of my talk to get my shit together, because I had mascara down my face. My voice was off, because I was in the audience belting. You carry… When you sing that, you carry the voices and the pain and the hope of the people that sing it before you. I’ve heard it sung before, I have to admit, but never like you sing it.
GC: You know what’s crazy that is… Thank you for one, that is such a compliment. So, we’re sitting there, I did a tour in El Salvador. My wife and I did some mission work there, and we have a real connection to El Salvador, and we did a tour. And so we’re in, I believe it was a small pueblito named San Antonio Los Ranchos. And these were very rural people, which we had spent some time in rural El Salvador, and it’s so rural that men don’t talk to women and vice versa. And that often when we would visit houses, we would ask the name of their children and they would say things like, “Well, the girl, I think she’s three.” It’s almost like… It’s a very different way of life. And people sit… It was almost like they were social distancing before social distancing was cool. You would sit literally 20 feet apart, and that was normal. And so it was a very different way to interact. And so I’m sitting in this room full of people and I’m an audience… I need audience interaction, and so live streaming right now is killing me. [chuckle]]
BB: It’s hard.
GC: So we’re sitting in this pueblito and I could not get a reaction with the audience. A lot of my music is very interactive, I like people to clap and scream. And at the end of the show, we start singing Todo Cambia and I’m sitting there like, “These people hate us. No one’s reacting. They want us to get out of here or whatever.” And oh my God, they started singing that song like a wave. And these are people that have lived through a massacre, and that’s the kind of a song that heals. And so it was wild just to hear you say that. There is power in that song, I don’t know what it is, but there is power in that song, and it continues to teach me as I tour around the world.
BB: It is a weird combination. I didn’t know whether I was singing for hope or in grief, but I think it was both. And I think that combination of hope and grief is the most deeply human combination. We’re in it right now as a culture. Okay, so I want you to tell me about… I totally hijacked you’re staying the experience of me seeing you sing this song, but tell me about your musical journey in terms of how you have integrated your culture, your beliefs. Did you start there when you picked up the guitar at 18? Was it part of your choir experience in high school, or did you make a deliberate decision that where I’m from and who I am is going to play a role in my music?
GC: You know so it’s funny, Carrie, I love hearing your story. I feel like… It’s like we’re so similar and so different in so many ways, because I wish I had grown up in a family that had a musical background. I wish that I’d grown up speaking Spanish or being around music that celebrated my Latino heritage, and I just didn’t. Music doesn’t really run in my family so much. My cousin is an incredible piano player, but both of us are completely self-taught, and so I don’t know exactly where that comes from. And as far as my Latino heritage, there has always been a very strong coursing through my veins to connect with that part of myself, but I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. And my dad grew up at a time when, of course, it was… His mother didn’t teach him Spanish because people were taught in very physical ways that that was a bad thing, and so…
BB: That’s right.
GC: So for me, it’s almost been like, something that… Siempre me llamando la atención. So it’s a way to say, it’s always called to me. But it’s funny because I didn’t find it until I went to Argentina on a study abroad. I was literally in Argentina and I heard this music called Chacarera, and it’s a rhythm, it’s a folkloric tradition, especially in the northwestern part of Argentina. And I just was fascinated. And I also love tango and I just loved being in Argentina. It was so far from what I knew here in Texas, and so far from the Latinness that was presented to me, and I fell in love. And so I literally came home and I attempted to write my own Chacarera, and I completely failed, but I ended up writing a song that people love. [chuckle]
GC: And it’s one of those things that I literally, I would play in a coffee shop, and no one’s listening to you in a coffee shop. I’d play in a coffee shop and people would come up after an hour-long set and they’d say, “Hey, do you have any more of that flamenco stuff?” And I’d be like, “Yo, it’s not flamenco. And actually, I don’t. I just have that one song.” But it’s the only song that I would sing in Spanish, and that was the song that people wanted to hear. And most of the audiences are white and probably don’t speak Spanish, so it was the weirdest thing to me that as I was like, “Okay, well. I love this too. So let’s dive in there,” and people have always loved it. And then I’ll put out bilingual songs and, I don’t know, it’s just kind of bringing people along for the journey as I discover my own Latin roots and people seem to enjoy it, and I love it. So, hoorah.
BB: I love hearing these stories because it so matches the sense of discovery that I feel when I listen to your music, both of you. Such a powerful part. Okay, I want everyone to know about what you’re doing in the world, how they can find out about you. I’ve got three things I want to ask both of you. So, can I just ask you and dig in? And if you’re listening and if you’re like out on a run or walking or driving, don’t be scrambling because we’ll put all this on the podcast page with direct links about how to find them, how to get albums, how to watch what they’re doing and be a part of this because you don’t… This is just… These women and their music is the balm we need right now. So Carrie, the first thing I want to ask you about is, oh my God, “A Song For You,” your series. Tell me what it is and how you came to it.
CR: Okay. “A Song For You” is a video series that my husband and I started. Basically, it’s the two of us playing songs in our little music room in our 950 square foot home. It is our way of connecting with people, right now, during this quarantine. We started it the first week of quarantine, so our first… You can go back and see our first video was made probably around March 14th or 15th. It has truly been therapy for me doing “A Song For You.”. There’s so much emotion that I don’t quite know how to process and talk about sometimes throughout this whole experience. I know that we’re all in the same boat and so it’s like for me, when I sing a song, I’m able to kind of get down to some lower levels there and process those emotions. So it’s really been such a therapy for me to sing songs for people. And somehow I like doing it as opposed to live streaming. I like being able to film these things on our own time and I can imagine people being there with me and listening, but I don’t have to be interacting with the screen in that same way.
CR: And reading comments and things like that. So I really like doing that. Also, my husband is a videographer, which is so convenient during quarantine when you’re a musician. Oh, my God. I’m so grateful. So, he’s had a lot of fun just trying different techniques and things on the video end. But that’s what we do. Our son helps us, our four and a half-year-old son, Cruz.
BB: He’s your producer, right?
CR: He is the producer and the engineer. He has now learned… He knows way more about video and audio technology than I do. I mean, he knows like where everything goes, what’s plugged into what, what programs to use to edit everything. It’s really funny. So, it has to be a family affair, because we have no other choice. We’re all in here together.
BB: And it’s really funny because at a 20… Let’s see, the 2040 edition of Unlocking Us, I’ll say, “So tell me how you came into music?” And he’ll say, “Well, during the quarantine of 2020, my mom and dad made a series, and this is where… ” You know, like yeah. This is how things start and we don’t know.
BB: I mean, so it’s amazing. We will link to it so people can find it. We love watching it as a family.
CR: Thank you.
BB: Okay. ¡Americano! The Musical.
CR: Yes. Well, it’s a…
BB: Gina’s doing like a wild snapping right here as Carrie is talking about this. Tell me about ¡Americano! The Musical.
CR: Okay. Well, somehow I’ve found myself in the position of having to say I’m the composer-lyricist of a musical, which is something I just would have never imagined.
BB: Own it, sister.
CR: It’s crazy. I mean, I’ve barely seen any musicals, honestly. I’m just now starting to catch up because it’s not… It’s just not been something kind of in my world. So, I was approached four years ago by a producer out of Arizona named Jason Rose, who was working with a team of writers, and they were writing the true story of a very inspiring young man named Tony Valdovinos. He is a DACA recipient, he’s been in Phoenix since he was two years old. And I guess, basically, his story is this. He grew up in Phoenix, his parents did not tell him that he was undocumented. So he grew up thinking that he was an American citizen. He was inspired by the tragedy of 9/11 to become a Marine. That event made him just want to protect his country and serve his country. And so his whole young life, he was gearing up to become a Marine, that was his dream. And when he’s 18, he goes to the recruiter and starts talking and filling out forms, and it comes out that he doesn’t have a Social Security number. And the recruiter starts asking more questions and says, “Son, you need to go home and talk to your parents. It sounds like there’s something fishy.” So, at 18, he finds out that he is actually not an American citizen and cannot join the Marines. And his world is broken, and he’s devastated. That’s the end of act one. [chuckle]
CR: So then from there basically, Tony finds a way to still contribute to his country, even though he can’t be a Marine. He ends up starting a company called La Machine who helps politicians get elected who are making positive change, especially for immigrants. And he has… I mean, he’s met with Obama. He has met so many people all over the world and affected so many people and made so much change happen. And he still doesn’t have his papers and he can’t go vote, but he is making such a huge difference in our country. So, we wrote a musical about him. It’s been the biggest challenge of my life. When they approached me about this, I mean my first thought was, “Wow, I know this is going to be so much harder than I could ever even dream of, but how could I say no to this opportunity, to have a hand in telling Tony’s story?”
CR: And the whole goal really was just to portray the humanness of this story and make Tony someone who everyone can relate to and can look up to no matter where you come from or what you believe. And it’s just been… It’s been incredible. Yes, it’s been freaking hard, but we premiered in February and we had sold out shows and we had people from really different backgrounds coming to the show and giving us incredible feedback. Like people coming and saying, “You know what? I thought one thing before I came in here, and now I think another thing about immigration and about dreamers.” And so that’s what it’s all about. And I’m… Right now, we can’t do a lot with it, but we have plans. Our next step is to try to mount it in New York, so we’re making progress towards that for the fall, at least the early steps. And it’s just been a really wonderful, wonderful experience, and challenging.
CR: Thank you.
BB: And I cannot wait to get a ticket to see it in New York. I just really can’t. And here’s to doing hard as shit things for the right reasons.
CR: My God.
BB: I hate it. I truly hate it, you all, but it’s… It’s real.
CR: It’s the crazy… You know, I’ve only ever written songs in a way just when I’m inspired. Like, “Oh, I’m feeling something. I’m going to write a song,” because I’m feeling it genuinely. No, what this was like, you have to write a song about a school board meeting where there are four different points of view and five other people interjecting their opinions, and make it really fun. And let’s put it to cumbia because you know we want people to be able to shake their ass while they’re listening. I was like… [chuckle] It really…
BB: Doesn’t that inspire you to write something? I’d be like, “No, shut it down.”
CR: I know. But yeah.
BB: Congratulations. I cannot wait. We will link to it. We’ll keep an eye on it. You have an upcoming live album, and I want to hear about that, and your most recent solo album.
CR: Sure. Yeah, live album is just getting started, but it’s going to be a compilation of our Laboratorio performances. That’s the series I’ve been doing in Austin and we’ll have performances by, hopefully, each guest that’s participated so far. Gina has been a guest in the past, and I can’t wait to share with you a track, Gina, and have you see if you like it. [chuckle] For this record. So yeah, that… I’m not exactly sure when it’s coming out, but hopefully within this… Before the end of the year. I should also say that we put out a little record for the musical called ¡Americano! The Musical. We did it with the arranger, his name is Sergio Mendoza. He has a band called Orkesta Mendoza. Yeah, such great musicians, such good music. So, you could check out some of the songs from the musical on that and my most recent solo record is Lola. It is a bilingual album.
BB: God, it’s so good. I just, let me just stop for a second and just say, Lord, it’s so good.
CR: Aww, thank you.
BB: So go ahead. Keep going.
CR: I will say that it features Gina on a song, we co-wrote a song together, called “La Ultima Vez.” And yeah, it’s an English, Spanish and Spanglish. And hopefully, I can get another one going here pretty soon. I’m ready to dig into another solo record.
BB: And I’ll tell everyone listening right now that we have… We’ve been given the great permission to play “La Ultima Vez” after our podcast, so we’re going to end this podcast with a full playing of that song, so… Eek! I’m so excited. So, Carrie, you’re busy.
CR: More than anything…
BB: Making music.
CR: Yeah, it’s the four-year-old that really keeps me the busiest. [chuckle]
BB: That is a really busy but God, what a fun age, too.
CR: It’s a blast. It’s wonderful.
BB: It’s a blast. We will link to everything that Carrie has going on, including that she just mentioned the musical that we can listen to… I think you can listen to some of it on Spotify, right?
BB: I’ll listen to that. Okay, Gina.
BB: The Woman in Charge, man. You’ve got a new album out. Tell us about it.
GC: I do, yeah. Talking about solo records in Spanish, it’s my first all Spanish album. It was supposed to be a full length, but in the quarantine times, we ended up putting out an EP. But I am so proud of these songs. It’s called “La Que Manda,” which in Spanish is kinda like she boss or woman in charge, the one who calls the shots. Man, it’s so exciting, for musicians it’s like a new baby, right? But I do feel like this is definitely… Putting out this record is a bit of a challenge. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing the potential, seeing the best version of yourself, and kind of a challenge.
GC: I literally, I was reading… Man, I just started reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle. And oh, my gosh, today, I literally just read this quote, “I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day.” And I feel like I’ve just awoken to the fact that I have spent my entire life making myself so small. And I am at once so sad about that and furious, not only at the world for having asked me to be small, but at myself for having swallowed it. And I feel like this record is literally a revolt against that. And I do feel like this is probably a volume one. I love the idea of La Que Manda and the idea that what this world needs right now is women using the power that is within us, and I just hope that my music can help inspire a little bit of that, a little bit of us to see the fire that’s within us, and instead of its extinguishing it, just letting it out. So, I don’t know, I’m excited. Yeah.
BB: There is a rawness to this album in you. Something I’ve never heard from you before, and I love all your music, and I’ve listened to all your music and I listen to all your music. There is something in this new album that is just fire.
GC: Well, I feel like too, I’ve heard this from a lot of people, and I feel it in myself. There’s something about singing in Spanish that legitimately feels like a different voice inside of me. And along those lines, the title track was… We actually recorded that in quarantine, so that was the last piece before we could put this out. And it kind of got delayed of course, because of everything, but we finally were able to record it. And I wanted it to feel very tribal, it’s very much percussion and vocals with a teeny bit of guitar, but for the most part, it’s percussion and vocals. And even the way I sing it is inspired by an indigenous style of singing. I can’t even find a name for it, honestly, but it’s like scream singing. I literally took videos of myself singing it to prove to my wife that I did it because I was like… In the studio, it was like I found a new voice inside of me and was honestly quite… Like I was just sitting there with my producer like, “Okay, this is going to sound awful, but I’m just going to… Just keep rolling it and I’m literally just going to kind of scream here.”
GC: And hope something comes, right? And I think in that same way, that’s exactly how I feel as a woman is that it’s like there’s this… It’s a frustration, it’s a rawness, and it’s also just this connection to the earth, to how… I don’t know, the beauty of women. And how much we’ve been squashed throughout history and told that we can’t, and that we shouldn’t, and that we’re not leaders. And if we speak up, we’re bitches. And it’s just like, “No.”
GC: So, I don’t know. That’s what I feel like this album is about. And I think, yeah. I think there’s a volume two in my future.
BB: I love that, because you can hear and feel your largeness in this, in these songs. Just… Yeah. Okay, music video, July release. Tell me what’s going to happen.
GC: So, it was probably maybe a month and a half into quarantine. And I just remember… So, you have to remember that as musicians, especially, I was literally on the road every Wednesday through Sunday for the most part. And I’m talking fly dates. So, we’re getting on a plane with a five piece band, renting a car, doing the whole thing. For weekend tours, short tours. Well, now I’m in quarantine, and of course, my wife’s in quarantine. And so, we’re home all the time together, which is beautiful. It’s wonderful to finally be able to spend time together, but it’s also hard because it’s a new dynamic. And you’re always in the same space together.
GC: And so, I just remember thinking, I was like… It just hit me. It was actually, Brené, after hearing your interview with Tarana Burke and talking about survivors of domestic abuse that one day we’re literally working out, and it just hit me. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. I love my life at home, and this is a safe space, but it’s not perfect all the time.” I cannot even imagine what it’s like for people who are not in a safe space to be cooped up. I just started thinking about it and it weighed so heavy on my heart. And I thought, “You know what?” I just had this vision of uniting dancers from across the world, and just reaching out to people to speak to survivors of domestic abuse with my first single off the record called “Ella,” which is a very poignant song about kind of that power of women and revolting against what the lies the world has told us.
GC: And I don’t know. It just, it literally was kind of a vision. It just came to me. And so, I started reaching out to people on Instagram, because the other thing I thought was, “Well, you know what? Most of us are sitting around not creating in the ways that we used to create.” And so, what do I have to lose? The worst thing someone can say is no. So, I literally just started finding dancers that I was enjoying. And we have a tango dancer from Argentina who lives in Paris. We have a dancer here in Austin who is a traditional Indian dancer. We have hip-hop dancers from LA. We’ve got… Gosh, I’m trying to think of who else. We have a flamenco dancer. I believe she’s from Venezuela, but she lives, I think, in California.
GC: And so, it’s just being able to pull all of these beautiful, talented artists together to speak to something that is just continually on the rise all across the world. Calls to domestic violence hotlines are through the roof. And so, I don’t know, I just… I’m really excited about it. And like I said, Brené, I literally think the conversation you and Tarana had was the seed for that. And so, I’m excited about it coming out. I’ve already seen the first couple of cuts. And hopefully, it’ll be coming out soon in the end of the month or beginning of July.
GC: And actually, the other cool part is that without even having released it, ultimately what we’re trying to do is raise money for organizations that support survivors. And so, we actually… There’s a group in Austin, Survive2Thrive, that is run by Courtney Santana, who’s also a musician. And anyway, I reached out to her, kind of first thing off the bat, and I basically said, “Here’s the idea. Let me run it by you. Can we partner together?” And so, my fabulous director, Lisa Donato, she actually was able to raise more than $3,000 to go towards survivors of domestic abuse here in Austin. And they’ve been able to, I believe, put at least three women in safe situations through the quarantine.
BB: That’s amazing. And God, it is like I keep calling it the crisis inside the crisis. It is really an epidemic right now, globally. And so, so grateful for the work. And if you’re listening to Unlocking Us, you’ll know when it comes out, because we’ll make sure you know when it comes out and how we can help. Okay, Niñas Arriba College Fund.
GC: Hey, that was pretty good. That was pretty good.
BB: Gracias. [chuckle] Remember. Remember me working for the telephone company.
GC: Oh, that’s right.
BB: Gracias por llamar AT&T. Mi nombre es Brené. Como te puede servir. I took those calls in Spanish, baby, for a year. [chuckle]
CR: That’s great.
GC: Oh, my God. I love it. I love it. Let’s see. So, okay Niñas Arriba, the short story is that my wife and I, before we got married, we decided…
BB: Jodi, your wife Jodi, right?
GC: Jodi, my lovely wife, Jodi Granado. So, before we got married, we decided to do mission work and signed up with a Catholic volunteer program called VIDAS. They sent us to El Salvador. We lived with nuns. We volunteered with young women in an all-girl school. And we were so moved by our experience and just felt so part of the family in El Salvador, I don’t know, that place is deep inside of our hearts that it felt really wrong just to leave. And be like, “Okay, cool. Mission work over. Peace out.” And so, Jodi was the one that said, “What if we started a college scholarship fund?” And so, we talked to our seniors. And we said, “Hey, who wants to go to college?” And everybody raises their hand. And we’re like, “Who’s going to college?” And everybody drops their hand. And so, we just asked them, “What is that about?” And of course, it was about money. And it’s also about a culture that doesn’t value education for young women. And as is the case around the world.
GC: And so, anyway, the only way we knew how to raise money was through benefit concerts. And so we’ve been doing that for the last… Gosh, 10 years. And to date, we’ve been able to put four young women through private Catholic University in El Salvador. We have a paid internship program that they get to take part of when they graduate. And then, we have two new students that are currently going through their college careers right now. But it’s really hard actually because of quarantine, because anyway, that’s a whole situation. But I am so proud of these young women, because they’re all so amazing. They’re badasses. And I’ve learned the value of just being a champion. I think I’ve had so many champions in my life.
GC: And just being able to try and be a champion for somebody else… I’m not down there getting the degree. We’re taking young women from poverty situations and putting them in a private Catholic University, and we never thought we would have a 100% graduation rate. They’re doing the work, and without us on the ground to help them, it’s all on them. But we just said, “Here’s a door of opportunity. You can walk through if you want.” And our first graduate, her name is Xiomara, and she is such a beacon. Seeing the change in her… Her husband at first, she literally had to get permission from him because he doesn’t even have a high school diploma. And so in a machista society, for her husband to be okay with her having more knowledge than he does. And so she literally told him, because they had a child, I believe, before they got married, and she basically said, “No, I’m not marrying you unless you allow me to go to college.” And then now, she has children and her young girl, she told us… We got to go back to El Salvador a couple of times and just revisit and reconnect, and she said, “My daughters will learn English. They will grow up. They will get a college education.” And that’s the kind of systemic change that uplifts societies, and that’s what’s so exciting about all of this.
BB: And I will make sure you also know a lot about this college fund. Also, on the top of this page, there’s going to be some great… I want everyone that come to these pages, I want you to lean in, fall in love with Carrie and Gina like I have. And I’ve answered the big quintessential philosophical question I came into this interview to answer, which is, why is your music so soulful? Because y’all are so soulful. You are both activists, artists. I talk about all the time this idea of integration and this idea of how it’s the big developmental stage of adulthood is to stop compartmentalizing ourselves and the pieces of ourselves where we’re mother, partner, musician, artist, activist and just become integrated. And it’s like there’s no separation with either one of you. You just bring it all. And we’re so grateful for that because you can hear it in your music. You can see it in the work you do. And I’m so proud to have your music on the podcast. I’m so proud that every time before people start listening to these conversations about what it means to unlock who we are, they hear y’all. I’m really grateful. So we’re going to go out. Before we go out with the song that you all have done together, a collaboration, I have a rapid fire for both of you. And so I’ll start with Carrie because I’ve been starting with Carrie. Gina, you can’t listen.
GC: Oh, believe me. I studied for this.
BB: You are so bad.
GC: Okay, but you know, wait…
CR: I did not…
GC: But you know, wait. You know why? It’s because you’d call it rapid fire, and then some people end up talking for minutes on one subject. And I’m like, “Y’all, it’s rapid fire. Come on.”
BB: Okay, great. Then you know what? We’ll start… You know what? We’re going to start with you, Gina. You just invited yourself to go first.
GC: Uh-oh, uh-oh. Dang it.
BB: Okay, ready? Then we’ll go to Carrie.
GC: I asked for it.
BB: Okay. And you know what? I’m not even pausing between them. We’re going to go fast. Are you ready?
GC: Okay, go.
BB: Look, you all know Gina. She is not scared. So, trust me. Okay, number one. Number one, fill in the blank. Vulnerability is…
GC: Believing in myself.
BB: Number two. You’re called to be very brave, but you can feel the fear in your throat. What’s the first thing you do?
GC: Think of 10 people that should have been called before me, and then I just say yes anyway.
BB: I love that, okay. What is something that people often get wrong about you?
GC: That I’m thoughtful.
GC: I’m really not.
GC: Oh, my God. My wife and I, we’re laughing so much about this. It’s so true though. It’s my wife who’s thoughtful, it just… It reflects on me.
BB: It rubs off. Yeah, that’s good. The last TV show you binged and loved.
GC: La Casa de Papel, or Money… It’s also called Money Heist in English. So good.
BB: Favorite movie, one of them.
GC: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
BB: Oh, my God. A wafer-thin mint? Okay. A concert that you’ll never forget.
GC: Brandi Carlile.
BB: Favorite meal?
GC: Anything my wife cooks. That’s a cop out, I’m sure.
BB: Favorite meal that she cooks.
GC: I just love everything she does. She does a Korean bowl that’s really good.
BB: Okay. What’s on your nightstand?
GC: A ginormous champagne bottle that was made into a lamp that was at my grandparents’ wedding.
BB: Oh, God. That’s amazing.
GC: I know. I love it.
BB: Okay. A snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that gives you joy.
GC: Okay. So my wife and I just bought… We didn’t just buy. We have a big couch. We’ve finally bought like a grown-up couch and there’s a chaise lounge on it. And so we sit on the chaise lounge and we finally invested in the New York Times crossword, hoping to do the crosswords. But now, we’re obsessed with the spelling bee which is literally like, you have to… Anyway, go look it up. But we literally sit on the couch and we’re like, “Okay, go.” And you press it and it shows you, I think, like seven letters, and then you have to make all these words, and so we battle for who gets the first word. Anyway, yes.
BB: That sounds so fun to me that I could just geek out and be on the couch with you all. Okay. Tell me one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now.
GC: I’m really grateful that I actually get to be home with my wife and be forced to be, to read. She bought me a hammock. We get to hang out in the hammock and battle the mosquitoes. I love it.
BB: Beautiful. Okay, Carrie. Are you ready?
CR: Yeah, I’m actually nervous now. Gauntlet thrown, yes!
GC: It’s good, though.
BB: I was like, I have to say, you do win the award for the fastest, Gina. Because you practice, you understood the rules and you went, you did it.
GC: Yeah, thank you.
CR: I’ll be hemming and hawing.
GC: Wait. Can I say one more thing?
GC: It really bothers me that everybody’s answer to the first question is hard.
BB: Yeah, it is. It is. But they… I think that’s people truth.
GC: I actually… I don’t know, Brené. I think you should say, “You can’t say hard. Now go.”
BB: Gina Chavez, rule 47-B.
GC: Thank you.
BB: Okay. Carrie, you can say hard. Number one, fill in the blank. Vulnerability is…
CR: Letting yourself cry in front of people. [chuckle]
BB: Yeah. Oh, that’s true. That’s good.
CR: You know what I’m envisioning? I’m envisioning crying on stage and I’ve done it. Once you’ve done that, you’re kind of like, “Well, I did that.”
CR: The world didn’t end.
BB: I’ve done it, too. And it doesn’t end.
BB: Okay. Carrie, you’re called to be very brave, but your fear is real. You can feel it in your throat. What is the very first thing you do?
CR: Laugh, like I’m doing right now. I just was giggling. Laugh. Yeah.
BB: Nervous laughter. I love it. What is something people often get wrong about you?
CR: That I am highly organized and efficient with my time.
BB: Oh, I would have pegged you for super organized. Okay, the last TV show that you binged and loved?
CR: The Queen.
BB: One of your favorite movies?
CR: Well, okay, recent… It’s not that recent, but just recently watch Selma, and nothing else could come beyond that right now in my mind. Yeah, I know.
BB: Good and tough. A concert you’ll never forget.
CR: Mavis Staples at The Paramount in Austin.
BB: Geez. God, that was church, I bet.
CR: It was church.
BB: Okay. Yeah. Favorite meal?
CR: Beans and cornbread. Always. Nothing tops it for me.
BB: I’m looking at my sister who’s sitting in the room, and I want to say, “You can take the girl out of west Texas, but you can’t…
BB: What’s on your nightstand?
CR: New York Times crossword, paper edition. Although, I also do it on my phone, I’ll admit. And the most recent Texas Monthly with your beautiful face on the cover, and some earplugs, good ear plugs. Very important.
BB: Very important if you’ve got a partner that requires earplugs. Okay.
BB: A snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that gives you true joy?
CR: My morning jogs with my son. Well, they used to be casual jogs when he was riding a balance bike at our local park, but now he just started riding a big boy bike. So now, I am running my ass off chasing him, but it’s still a moment of joy.
BB: What’s one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now?
CR: Being with my family, being in this little house with the people I love the most in the whole world.
BB: Okay. If you know them, you know more about them. If you’re just meeting them for the first time, you can thank me later. Carrie Rodriguez, Gina Chavez, the amazing musicians who wrote, composed, and performed the music for Unlocking Us. And one of you want to tell us about this song we’re going to listen to on the way out?
GC: We actually was funny, when we were coming up with ideas to send you, I think this was the last one, and I played a version. It’s literally a one-chord song, true to form over here. It’s a one chord song that I had words to. And it’s got, it’s an actual written song. And then, Carrie just started playing fiddle over it, and we both were like, “Yes.”
BB: It is a one chord song. Is that why it’s called Oneder?
GC: Yes. [laughter]
BB: Oh, my God, because it’s spelled O-N-E-D-E-R. Because I didn’t know why, but I was like, “But they’re even clever. It’s a play on words. I don’t know what it means.” But it is so good. So, Oneder. You’ll hear that. You’ll hear the fiddle and is it the…
BB: It’s a guitar. Okay. So, tell me about “La Ultima Vez”.
CR: “La Ultima Vez,” yeah. It was a song we wrote together. I was pregnant at the time. I remember Gina and I had just met at that song writing competition, and she came over to my little garage apartment in Hyde Park. And I remember I was so jealous, Gina, because you brought wine.
CR: And I was a little nervous because when you’re writing with someone for the first time, it’s… That’s a vulnerable thing to do. And just to put your ideas out there, especially when you’re self-conscious about, I know this may not be good, but anyway, I was enviously watching you drink that glass of wine. But yeah, we just… We started talking. It was real. We were talking about past relationships and from my end of things, I was kind of going back to a previous relationship that had… That was sticking with me and some of those ugly words. And it was my way of letting it go. It’s like when you put something into song, it’s a really nice way of just letting go of that, that you’ve been holding in for so long, and putting it out into the world. So, it’s just not inside you anymore. And that’s what we did. We talked about it. It came up quickly. It sounds awesome. Gina, do you have any thoughts or remembrances about that day?
GC: It definitely, like you said, it is a very vulnerable thing to sit down and write a song with somebody, because it… Yeah, it’s like here you are pouring your heart out. And it’s someone you’ve potentially never really spent time with. So, it’s a very vulnerable act, but honestly, Carrie, I think it’s all owed to you sharing that experience. And I think so many women can relate to that song and the idea. To me, it very much is similar to the songs that I’m putting out, the idea of stepping into your own power, and stepping away from powerlessness, and calling out power. Like calling out a power structure that asks us to make ourselves small. And so, to me, those are all along the same lines. And, yeah. I so appreciate you sharing that story with me so that we could create something that other people can find themselves in.
CR: Yeah. Hey, let’s do more, Gina.
GC: Okay, let’s do it.
BB: Hey, yeah. For all of us, yeah. This is Carrie Rodriguez, Gina Chavez, friends, musicians, artists.
GC: Well, we also… Chingona. We need to revive Chingona.
GC: We were going to do a whole collab and then, the pandemic came and tore it apart.
BB: Chingona. You have to do it just so you can use the title.
GC: I know.
BB: I know. Alright. Y’all take a listen. They’re amazing. Visit our show page for all of these links, find them anywhere and everywhere you can. It’ll be time that you… You’ll thank me later.
BB: Okay, that little ten seconds of a song that you just heard was the Oneder song, which is so fun. Oneder, as in one chord. I just… I love these women. This is, again, this is a show that you’re going to need to look at the show notes. I can tell you just very quickly that you can find Carrie at carrierodriguez.com, and Spotify, is also Carrie Rodriguez. Instagram. Instagram is trickier because it’s @carrierockriguez, like the rock is not a typo. So it’s C-A-R-R-I-E, R-O-C-K, R-I-G-U-E-Z. You can find Gina Chavez at @ginachavez on Instagram, @ginachavez on Twitter. But look at everything. We’ve got all the show notes for you on the webisode page. That’s half web, half episode, on the episode page. Okay, and they told you about the song they did together. This is just a special bonus that they’re letting us play this on the podcast. I was going to say, “Hang onto your hat because that’s so Texas,” but hang onto your heart, and listen to Gina Chavez, Carrie Rodriguez. Thanks, y’all.
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