Local Austin Artist, Leti Garza, is releasing her new album Canciónes Sobre La Vida y La Muerte.
By Bella Larralde, Photos courtesy of Leti Garza
Let me tell you a secret… Local Latin fusion artist Leti Garza just released her new album, Canciónes Sobre La Vida y La Muerte. Debuting on Jan. 25, the record consists of 11 songs that weave in and out of Spanish and English. Garza’s discography includes her debut El Unico Para Mi, released in 2017, and 2021’s Borderland EP.
Growing up in a musical family, Garza knew from a young age that working in the arts was something she was made for. She started as a professional dancer, dancing in many different genres leading to the founding, producing and directing of a multidisciplinary performance company called Performance Encounters. However, after about 10 years, Garza was eager to move on to her next venture. At the age of 44, she decided it was time to dive deeper into something she loved, music.
“I have a family that is very musical, and if you went down my lineage, you’d see that there are a million musicians in my family,” Garza says. “An aunt who was quite famous, Eva Garza, I grew up listening to her music. One of the best parts of Latin tradition is that there is a lot of love of music. There are other things that we love, but music is a constant.”
Starting up her music career, Garza created her band, Leti Garza y La Banda, with a couple of good friends. They played various genres of music focused on Latin culture and would gather to play local gigs around the Austin area at places like the Plaza Columbian Coffee Bar.
“Leti Garza y La Banda was a band with one main directive, letting Austin’s diverse community unabashedly dance and sing as one,” Garza says.
Ready to embark on her solo venture, she decided it was time to release hand-crafted music that caters to who she is, and Canciónes Sobre La Vida y La Muerte was born.
“It took close to two years to create the contents of this album; some of the songs were even created maybe 15 years ago or longer, whereas the others were written in the last six months,” says Garza.
Embracing who she is and what she enjoys, Garza shaped her album based on genres she felt embodied her and her experiences.
“The genres are everywhere,” she explains. “It ranges from pop to classical to theater to jazz to a deep Latin groove, almost a bossa (a type of music derived from samba). It’s got a lot of range in terms of genre.”
A big inspiration for this album is Garza’s identity. Being Latina, fitting in was hard for Garza. She found it difficult to express herself and often wondered where she belonged. Singing in Spanish is her way of showing the parts of herself she embraces.
“I did not learn Spanish and had to learn about what the common theme artistically was for me. My theme was always about who I am and my identity,” Garza explains. “I am comprised of all these things that were not talked about in a way that feels like me. This album is kind of a synthesis of all the many things that I am. Now I embrace everything.”
The first single from the album, “Mi Amor,” tells a love story about Garza’s own experiences with her husband. With him having the heart to always support her dreams as an artist, Garza shaped her album around the trials and tribulations they have experienced.
“It’s an album about the evolution of my journey and my relationship with my husband of 40 years,” she explains. “It’s also about encountering some very tough things that we had in our lives together and becoming stronger for it.”
Reflecting on the process, Garza admits the process was not always easy. Having setbacks while making this album made her question if she should continue making music.
“There were times when there was a lot of stress in my life, dealing with family or relationships or even personal difficulties, that I had to quit for a little bit,” Garza says. “It’s okay to quit for a little bit; you just have to say everything is fine if you know that if you love something you can come back to it.”
With intention to capture the hearts of many, Garza hopes this album acts as a bond between the younger generation and the older.
“I think people are going to be attracted to my album because it is a new generation of discovering culture, and I represent the bridge,” she explains. “I had a news anchor come up to me after performing my song and she said, ‘Wow, you are the bridge. My parents would love this music, and I love this music.’”
Canciónes Sobre La Vida y La Muerte will also be Garza’s first album on vinyl.
“Normally I don’t do that, but this time I chose to make it into my very first vinyl album. It’s got a beautiful sound and cover, and it is so exciting. I only have a limited amount, but I want to sell these albums because I think the album deserves it.”
The future is an unknown place for Garza. Not knowing if there would be more music or another album in line for her she confessed it was all up in the air. However, let me tell you a secret.
“No matter where I am at or what I am doing in life, music will always come to me.”