“Some feeling was born in that need of playing guitar, in making music for the first time,” said musician Edna Vazquez about her very first time playing guitar.
Vazquez, who writes her own songs and performs in a mariachi band, grew up in the traditional town of Tonila, in Jalisco, Mexico. It is a region that continues to influence her life. As Vasquez told Think Out Loud‘s Dave Miller, “[Tonila] is just part of me.”
In this small picturesque town, two things happened: Vazquez, a lesbian, came to terms with her sexual identity, and she started playing guitar. Out of fear that her sexual orientation would not be well accepted, Vazquez’s parents sent her to the United States to live with relatives when she was 16 years old. It was in Hillsboro, Oregon where Vazquez honed her guitar skills and learned to compose music.
And she was talented — so talented that her friends urged her to compete in the Spanish language show Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento. Vazquez sold her personal television and bought a bus ticket to LA. Tired and thinking she was only going for an audition, she was shocked to find herself performing not only in front of a crowd, but Mexican celebrities as well.
Much like her first moments playing guitar, something awoke inside of her. “I felt like I had something inside that had to come out. And that was the truth … I was just giving it all. All of the sudden I wasn’t tired; I was just doing what I am.”
Vazquez did not win the competition, but the exposure was a win unto itself. She now plays her music all around the Northwest, experimenting with various Mexican genres like mariachi and boleros.
Vazquez played “El Pastor” on Think Out Loud:
Listen to the full conversation with Edna Vazquez on Think Out Loud.
This article includes contributions from Think Out Loud’s Luis Giraldo.