On her life’s stage, Leticia Rodriguez has been dedicated to music, dance and multicultural inclusion. Her expressive debut album, La Americana, features her singing award-winning music from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Argentina and the U.S. With both traditional and contemporary offerings, La Americana also draws from many genres such as jazz to folk, country to pop. Rodriguez’s broad spectrum of music also covers many emotions from love to jealousy, nostalgia to melancholy. For example, “Celosa” deals with envy and resentment. “Usted Abuso” addresses abusive relationships. “Estoy Como Nunca” is about optimistically starting life anew. At six minutes, the longest track “Menealo” is a carefully arranged moving song that gets you dancing. Closing the set, “Volver” and “Usted Abuso” are popular songs in many Spanish-speaking countries.
The impressionistic music was inspired by Rodriguez’s aunt, Eva Garza, an internationally-acclaimed Latina crossover artist in the 1950s, who performed boleros for Decca Records (later Columbia). Several of these songs were also sung by Garza: Augustin Lara’s “La Cumbancha,” “Incertidumbre,” “Tenias Que Ser Tu,” “Un Rato Nomas,” “A Los Cuatros Vientos,” “Volver” and “Celosa.” With a desire to resurrect and share these wonderful songs, the Austin, TX-based musician conceptualized her debut album project about a decade ago.
With its highly textured layers of sound, La Americana includes guitars, keyboard, bass, trumpet, percussion, accordion and horns to varying degrees and depending on the song. I was pleased to hear some songs given more traditional arrangements with Carlos Alvarez’s accordion and Roland San Miguel’s gitarron. “Volver” is only accompanied by Christian Fernandez’s guitar and backing vocals. Then, with power and gusto, we also hear a wall of sound on such cuts as “Estoy Como Nunca” and “Usted Abuso.”
Rodriguez’s versatile approach emphasizes diversity. Along with her consummate accompanists, she produces a graceful, relaxed sound for close and enjoyable listening. As an artist who embraces multicultural understanding and inclusion, Leticia Rodriguez is doing her part to create music where healing, harmony, and unity between groups are her desires. La Americana is a cause for musical celebration to be embraced by society for greater multicultural growth.