In the summer of 2016, I was not a happy camper. I felt stuck, alone and in a state of indecision regarding the steps I needed to take to release myself from feeling like a victim of circumstance. As usual, I turned to writing to figure it out and get myself out of my stupor. This time, however, my writing went from journaling and poetry to songwriting.
It wasn't the first time I had tried this, ten years prior, I ventured into the same territory and, coincidentally, recorded the experience in a small recorder. The "experience" included my mother singing my songs, me telling her what harmony I had in my head, she, trying to interpret my imagination and correcting it with her musical knowledge, lots of wine drinking, and enough laughter to make you weep.
In 2016 it occurred to me to listen to those old recordings. As I listened, I was moved and inspired to pick up where we left off and immediately called my Mom who lived five minutes away. We lived in Doral, Florida at the time, west of Miami. My Mom had not played the guitar, or sang in almost the same length of time since we had recorded our songs, 10 or so years. She was now 77 years old and less and less active, so I thought, this exercise of playing together, would help both of us. It would help me get through this dreaded summer of indecision through a creative endeavor and it would help her get back to playing music and singing which I knew would make her feel good, and boost her heart and brain. And so the adventure began.
I started sending Mom songs to put to music. All my songs are in Spanish, somehow, unlike my regular morning pages, much of my poetry and all my songwriting comes out in my native Spanish. She agreed to give it a try and dust off her guitar. I started to send her songs via text and email, and then on the weekends, I'd invite her over to listen to her sing and play them. I would send her my ideas, or genre I heard the song in, like a Peruvian waltz, Cuban bolero, or in the style of "filin" like those songs we both love from Chavela Vargas, Martirio and Chano Dominguez, and then she would interpret the song as she heard it. Sometimes she would send me her version via text, other times, she kept me waiting to surprise me with what she had created. I hadn't seen her that happy in quite the while.
Every weekend, we would have our words and music sessions to look forward to. I'd prep a meal, bring out the wine and Mom and I would play and sing all afternoon. By the end of the summer, we had completed thirty songs, half of which are now registered. We recorded all the songs on my iphone, very high tech indeed, and two are video recorded. Below is one of those videos: my Mom, Lizzie Orizondo, performing my song Hoja de Otoño (Autumn Leaf), copyrighted. We realized after the summer was over that the guitar had been off tune during the entire time, but obviously that was not our priority then.
During those sessions we fantasized over who would sing these songs. Martirio, Elena Burke, Lena, Gema Corredera, Luis Bofill, Albita, and even Marc Anthony were in our dream list. Yet, although we dreamed of fame and fortune, the focus was on the moment, how great a time we were having and what beautiful memories we were creating. We felt the magic, we felt the love. Since we dreamed of getting our songs out into the world, I took many photos of my mother, one of which inspired a recent artwork for my pastel series, About My Mother, called Guitarra Bohemia (Bohemian Guitar), image below.
Now (drum roll.....), the international, grand reveal, please listen to my Mom performing my song, Hoja de Otoño (Autumn Leaf), copyrighted. This is the first time I share this song and video publicly.
Lizzie Orizondo, performing Hoja de Otoño (Autumn Leaf), copyrighted.
Ana Martinez Orizondo
Artist and culture creative.