I interviewed Ersi Arvizu, alumna of the East Los Angeles latin-soul band El Chicano, earlier this week. It was one of those interviews you come out of and say, “That was easy. She tells great stories about her life, and all I’ve got to do is wrap those stories cleverly up in her music.” The stories: how Ry Cooder helped to bring her back from obscurity, how she grew up singing and boxing, and what she learned when she and El Chicano performed in Leavenworth and Tehachapi pentitentiaries. The music: a precursor to Ozomatli and close cousin of Santana and Los Lobos.
You can hear the story that aired on today’s edition of The World here.
And of course, as my friend Steve Talbot says, to everything there’s a backstory. And there was a lot of yarns that Ersi was not able to tell. You’ll find many of them in this article by the Los Angeles Times’ Agustin Gurza.