Local artist Gina Chavez has graced the stage of many an Austin music venue, from iconic listening rooms to large family-oriented festivals. But on Feb. 15, she will be performing a theater gig, something the singer-songwriter has not done often in her bright career.
“I am extremely excited and also busy with a lot of prep work,” Chavez said. “We have some amazing bands put together and Michael Ramos, my producer, will actually be making some cameo appearances during the performance.”
Chavez’s new album, up.rooted, hit stores this week, and her Feb. 15 performance at Stateside at the Paramount Theatre will be the official CD release show. The show will be hosted by Laurie Gallardo of KUTX and will feature Amy Cook and Emily Wolfe, both South by Southwest artists this year.
“There are a lot of rehearsals and [it means a lot to me] to have a female line up that supports women in Central America,” Chavez said. “We’re going to feature some of the prime dancers from the McCallum Fine Arts Academy, which is actually where I graduated from.”
Up.rooted was produced by Michael Ramos (Charanga Cakewalk) and includes hints of the ’60s as well as cumbia, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton and other genres. For the album, Chavez worked with Grupo Fantasma, Adrian Quesada (of Brownout and the Echocentrics) and other artists.
“The whole process was beautiful, exciting and amazing, and every musician that came in was so gracious,” Chavez said. “I was really fortunate to get to meet these people and to work together on these songs. It’s exciting to finally be releasing it to the world.”
According to Chavez, this album would not have been what it is had it not been for the support she received from her fans and the community.
“The thing that really allowed me to pursue a really high-quality sound and a robust album was a Kickstarter campaign,” Chavez said. “We originally wanted to raise $10,000 but we thought that would be a really big stretch for me and my fans and they completely surprised me by doubling that goal. I’m still astounded of all the outpouring support that we received for this music.
The Stateside concert will be benefiting Niña Arriba, a nonprofit she helped start with her partner, to help girls in El Salvador to go to college. The idea came after teaching English at a girls’ school for eight months in Soyapango, El Salvador, a municipality of San Salvador, which is notorious for gang-related violence.
“It was really tough to live with such amazing people and to be welcomed into their community, and then you just leave,” Chavez said. “It’s hard to just leave and know that we get to come back to our first world comforts and first world opportunity.”
While they were teaching, they asked their students if they wanted to go to college and everyone said yes, but when they asked them who was actually going to college, no one raised their hand.
“The cost of college, it’s just not affordable,” Chavez said. “If you are making a good salary in El Salvador you are making about $200 a month and that is about what it takes us to pay tuition for one girl to go to college.”
Niña Arriba currently has three girls they are sending to college. They attend a private catholic university called Don Bosco.
“It’s been beautiful to really see the people of Austin and all over be so receptive to this cause,” Chavez said. “They have allowed us to support these girls that we feel like our sisters.”
The girls they chose were three girls they felt the closest to after their trip to El Salvador, but the support they have received has driven them to think of expanding the program.
“If the program grows, we are in the process of developing our own nonprofit status,” Chavez said. “We are working out applications to really start more of a formal process of who we can help.”
Up.rooted contains 11 tracks and was inspired by the exploration of her different roots. Chavez comes from parents of Mexican and Swiss-German descent. She released her first album, Hanging Spoons, back in 2007. She received the 2012-13 Austin Music Award for Best Latin Traditional Artist/Band and has done two tours in Japan as the official City of Austin Music Ambassador. She recently played at the Austin Vida Free Week Showcase for a Good Music Club taping on Jan. 2 and described it as “one of my favorite shows to date.”
Tickets to the CD release show are $32 and can be purchased at austintheatre.org. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30. For more information on Gina Chavez and her CD release visit ginachavez.com.
This article originally appeared at Austin Vida.