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"Austin singer-songwriter Gina Chavez has a gift for emotional connection, with a radiant voice that’s both warm and bold. At the Tiny Desk, Chavez trotted out her terrific band for a grabby star turn.” — NPR's Top Tiny Desk Concerts of 2015
Lightbeam, released in 2018, is a sonic departure for Chavez who is known for her signature style of bilingual Latin folk-pop that topped the iTunes and Amazon Latin charts with her award-winning album, Up.Rooted. The 2015 Austin Musician of the Year traded her acoustic guitar for the smooth tones of a Gibson hollow body, and called upon producer Dwight A. Baker (MISSIO, Alpha Rev, The Wind and The Wave, Josh Abbott Band) to lay down five soulful and diverse songs, that expand upon her previous work with same lively and sophisticated spirit that her fans have grown to love.
Lightbeam boasts intensely personal lyrics -- heaven knows our souls, our story / the shape of your heart when you hold me / wouldn’t tear us apart or disown me” -- strong melodic hooks and a pop aesthetic that showcase Chavez’s versatility as an artist.
"These are songs my heart has been wanting to sing for so long,” Chavez said. "To shout from the rooftops that I am in love! To tell the world about this incredible woman who lights me up and calls me to my best self, and show that our love is more than tolerable. It’s the kind of love we’re made for.”
Recorded in eight days at Matchbox Studios in Austin, Texas, the EP features some of Austin’s finest -- Dave Boyle (keys), Conrad Choucroun (drums), and Steve Terebecki (bass) -- on five unapologetically personal tracks that explore longing, faith, beauty, and sacrifice.
"I took some time to allow myself to write,” Chavez said. "No boundaries, no genres, just me and my guitar, and I was pretty surprised when these soul-tinged songs bubbled up. But this is the story my heart wanted to tell; the story what it means to be a Catholic Latina and fall in love with a woman; the story of what it means to live your heart no matter what the world says.”
Chavez and her wife, Jodi Granado, met at the University Catholic Center at UT Austin. The next decade would see the couple through the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship, coming out to friends and family, hiding their love while volunteering in El Salvador, and building a life together in Austin. Last year, Chavez and Granado, still practicing Catholics, tied the knot at Tiny T Ranch just east of Austin -- two years after marriage equality became legal in Texas.
With 10 Austin Music Awards, an NPR Tiny Desk with more than half a million views, frequent tours as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department, being named an official 2018 SXSW artist for the fifth year in a row with her six-piece band and a trip to Kyrgyzstan in April 2018, Chavez and her wife, Jodi, have embarked on a European mini-tour that kicks off the couple’s honeymoon and the release of "Lightbeam.”
This event is supported in part by a grant from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.