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Arts & Culture

Azul Barrientos: Music Flows Through Her

Texas Public Radio’s Jack Morgan explores a beautiful story, of family, folklore and a fascinating legacy

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center features an interesting performer this weekend. It’s Azul Barrientos. Barrientos has a haunting, evocative voice. A voice that seems steeped in culture.

The San Antonio Folklorist/Performer says much of her music can be traced back to the heart of her, her family, beginning with her grandmother. “Her mother was a child of the Mexican Revolution. So my grandmother grew up listening to all the songs she would later sing, and in turn, they were passed along to me,” she says.

I note that she seems to be a conduit for folklore and music from long ago and far away. “Yes" she agrees quietly, her voice cracking. "I consider myself very lucky…”

Born and raised in Mexico City, Barrientos happened to be performing in San Antonio about seven years ago, when she was offered Esperanza’s Artist In Residence post. She accepted. “The idea was to be here two or three years,” she explains. "But then, now you know, I live here. And I absolutely love it. I fell in love with San Antonio ever since I met San Antonio. When I go back to Mexico City, I miss San Antonio. It’s really my home now.”

Barrientos’ mother has come to San Antonio to watch and participate in Saturday night’s performance at the Esperanza. She explains the spare, intimate nature of it. “So it’ll be one guitar and two voices."

Reflecting on the rootsy nature of her music, she adds, "The compositions I make — they have that vernacular, that folkloric element, whether I want it or not.” She chuckles, momentarily diverted. And so are we.

We’ve more on the Esperanza’s Saturday night performance here.