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HomeMusicLatin Artist on the Rise: How Silvana Estrada’s Voice Became Her Most...

Latin Artist on the Rise: How Silvana Estrada’s Voice Became Her Most Powerful Instrument

At 11 years old, Silvana Estrada built her very own jarana, a guitar-shaped instrument from her native Veracruz, Mexico, for a class assignment. “You’d think it would be easy for me,” Estrada says. “But it was actually really hard.”

Easy because her parents are luthiers and, to this day, make and sell instruments for a living in her hometown located in the mountainous region of Veracruz, a port state located in the east-central part of the country.

“I grew up watching musicians from all over the world come buy instruments from my parents,” the 24-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explains. “It was amazing to see how people were so grateful and passionate about their instruments. I always knew that music would be part of my daily life but I just didn’t know how back then.”

While she hasn’t built another instrument since her first one, the Mexican artist’s ethereal and almost surreal voice has become her most important and powerful instrument, she admits. Her intense vocal delivery oozes pain, heartbreak and melancholy, creating vivid imagery via poetic lyrics that detail an obtuse love story.

“I feel like I learned to tell stories only with the quality of my vocals and tell the story of who I am only because of my voice, even if I’m actually telling a story with words as well. There’s something more profound in the quality of my voice.”

It’s something she learned from watching Latin American folk music icons such as Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa and Toña La Negra, calling it a “process of honesty, and sometimes honesty has a lot to do with vulnerability and vulnerability has a lot to do with braveness so its this every day journey, that you need to understand who you are and how you want to sing. That is so precious to me because it’s my whole heart and I’m going to put it out here for everybody to hear.”

Estrada, who has a background in jazz, has been incessantly making music and writing songs about love in all its iterations, solitude and nostalgia for her debut album Marchita, out Friday (Jan. 21). “When I was writing the album it was definitely a cathartic kind of process. It was a healing, therapeutic, long and lonely process trying to understand what was going on with my emotions. Like the first time you feel pain in your chest after a breakup, like how is that even possible? I need to put that in words and in music.”

Set to release via Glassnote Records, the 11-track set isn’t technically her first — she released Lo Sagrado in 2017 — but she’s calling it her first “truly complete” album. “It’s my introduction to the world. It’s who I am today. I wanted to sing these songs all by myself with instruments (i.e. jarana, Venezuelan cuatro) joining me but the whole album is carried by my vocals because I wanted to defend the song with my voice.”

The Mexican artist — who’s collaborated with revered acts such as Natalia Lafourcade and Jorge Drexler — will continue her U.S. tour on Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C. The 21-date trek will wrap March 2 in Chicago. See the complete list of dates here. She’s also currently working on a new EP that will feature the brighter side of Estrada.

“I don’t want to feel that pressure of changing my subject from zero to 100. I’ve always written about love because I like it and also because my idea of love is something that has been changing for a while. But this ‘new me’ artistically is more light, more luminous and I’m concentrating my energy in beauty and a little bit of humor, which is new to me.”

Below, meet this month’s Latin Artist on the Rise:

Name: Silvana Estrada

Age: 24

Recommended Song: “‘Te Guardo’ because it says a lot about who I am and the type of songs I like to write about love.”

Major Accomplishment: “Honestly, releasing this really special album is to-date, my biggest accomplishment.”

What’s Next: “Touring. I’m all about touring ‘Marchita’ and giving it life. I’m also working on an EP that will be about all the happy songs that I coudn’t add in ‘Marchita’ because they were too happy to be included. It’s going to be a beautiful, short album that will bring happiness. After the pandemic, I needed some light in my life. The EP will drop later this year.”

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