By Francisco H. Ciriza
The sweet young voice is somewhat recognizable as the same voice that floats sometimes eerily over pop compositions silkily coating layers of percussion, guitars and keyboards, and sometimes accordion. Hers is a voice of experience, honesty, and accomplishment. A fact punctuated with her recent nominations for both "Best Rock Solo Vocal Album" and "Rock Song of the Year" for her BMG U.S. Latin album, Bueninvento and the track, "Hoy No Quiero", respectively, in this year's Latin Grammy Awards. The awards show will take place in Los Angeles on September,
Julieta Venegas, the Tijuana product, born in Long Beach, but raised in one of the most tumultuous and turbulent cities in North America is in her Mexico City home chatting away like an excited teenager in her native Spanish, "I've been living in Mexico City for the past eight years. I was born in Tijuana and lived there for about twenty years. Well, actually, I was born in Long Beach, CA, but I never spent any time there. My parents had their papers, so each time they had a child, they would go over to the U.S. and make sure we were born there in order to be citizens of that country as well."
The diminutive yet striking Venegas has been compared to and is considered an equal to many of today's top English-speaking women of contemporary alternative music. Praise has come from such mainstream publications as Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, and even Newsweek. Venegas feels living in such a bustling center of action such as Tijuana was the perfect catalyst that matched perfectly with her tendencies toward more than just her native Mexican cultural and musical influences. Yet, she's quick to point out that those traditions were not altogether something she necessarily felt the need to escape.
"In general, it's really funny because being from the border region, because it is said to be well, it's true, there's a lot of commotion, a large influx of people, but it doesn't change what's important. The attitude of the people, their attitude toward family is that it is very sacred, very traditional. My family is very traditional. I mean my father hoped I would get married and have children and all that. That is sort of the double-edged sword of being from the border region. Honestly, I feel the songs I write and the manner in which I think is quite indicative of the fact that I'm from that area. I listened to music from all over, I went to a lot of concerts and that led me to be an even bigger music fan. I think the main reason I'm making music now, is because I am ultimately a music fan more than anything else. I still love being in [Tijuana]."
It was in Tijuana as a member of that city's pioneering punk outfit, Tijuana No!, where Venegas began making a name for herself in the music recording business. She sang lead on the band's biggest commercial hit, "Pobre de Ti". Does having ties to punk and its anti-establishment tendencies lessen the importance of the Grammy Award nominations for Venegas? Apparently, her wisdom kicks in and she realizes what significance to ascribe the recognition, "I am happy. To me, being an artist that is not necessarily a commercial artist or mainstream, this is not a goal of mine to be nominated, but it serves as a sort of a validation to me of my work. Additionally, it's a means of exposure. There are a lot of people who don't know who I am, so I look at it in a very positive light."
Perhaps there are more people out there who do know who she is than she believes. If her Grammy Award nominations are any indicator, there are many, many more people aware of Julieta Venegas
The Latin Grammys will be televised September 11 from 9 p.m. to 11 pm on CBS.