News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Music gives voice to activist singer-songwriter

Raye Zaragoza uses music as her voice. She wants to share her message and truth to the world through music. Zaragoza is known for her feminist anthems, “protest folk,” and songs that, “celebrate those left too long outside the spotlight.”

She is an award-winning singer-songwriter, who Paste Magazine called “one of the most politically relevant artists in her genre.”

Zaragoza will be bringing that voice and tenacious folk music to the Sisters Summer of Festival concert series event on August 14. This is the last installment of the Concert Series before gearing up for the 2021 Sisters Folk Festival October 1-3.

Zaragoza grew up doing theater and performing. However, she never felt like she fit in with the rest of the kids her age and felt isolated being a mixed-race woman.

“I always felt different from the kids in my class and had no one to really identify with, being a Japanese-American, Mexican, and Indigenous woman. The only way I made sense of my identity was through performance,” said Zaragoza.

During junior high school, Zaragoza was involved in theater and acting.

“I loved creating characters as a way to escape and perform who these characters were,” she said.

During high school, however, Zaragoza realized she didn’t just want to create characters anymore; she wanted to use her songs for good.

“It wasn’t until I started writing more vulnerable songs and songs about women’s rights and racial injustices where I felt I had a true calling for music,” she said.

Her inspiration to write songs about injustices and discrimination came from the life of her parents as Indigenous peoples and immigrants.

“My Dad had always told me about the injustices and discrimination he faced being the only brown-skinned person in his neighborhood and always taught me to be proud of who I am, but also to be cautious because of the world that we live in,” she said.

Zaragoza’s mother is a Japanese immigrant and hadn’t been a citizen of any country until she moved to the United States at 17 years old.

“I really identify with their identity crises and felt as if I could write songs about what they felt too. That’s really where it all started and came from for me,” said Zaragoza.

Zaragoza identifies her own sound and genre in the Americana realm, and is striving to create a fresh take on what it means to be an Americana artist.

“I love to try to push the envelope about what it means to be Americana,” she said. “I am all about umbrella terms, being mixed race, therefore in my world nothing fits all into the same thing.”

Zaragoza wants to share her message and truth to the world. When she first got involved in songwriting, she saw and felt that there was a universal theme of wanting to find a home and an identity for people within her community. “That is the only place I know how to write music from, my own experience with identity crisis and knowing what it feels like to not fit in. I am the type of person that can’t process anything without sharing it,” she said. And that’s exactly what Zaragoza does.

“Processing these things with a community of people helps me to open the doors to those darker places and create the best remedy I know for anxiety — which is to write a song about it,” said Zaragoza.

Her most recent album, “Woman of Color,” came from that place of processing her own feminine identity. The album came out in October 2020. Zaragoza came up with the name many years ago when thinking of ideas for a new record.

“I thought about a river of different colors, or like a coloring book where you color in your own story, and then thought about all the feminine energy that surrounds me — human or not, and came up with that name.”

She drew inspiration for the album from the feminine aspects of nature.

“I drew a lot from nature and also from my ancestors and wrote about what was on my mind for a long time, and created these stories about my own identity and femininity,” said Zaragoza. Zaragoza is taking that album out on tour this year for the first time since the pandemic.

During the pandemic, Zaragoza took a lot of the time to work on other creative ventures, including composing and writing music for a Netflix children’s show, “Spirit Rangers,” due to come out next year.

“It was nice to have the time off to work on other projects such as that after being on tour nonstop for three years,” she said.

Raye Zaragoza will be performing in Sisters for the first time as the last installment of the Sisters Summer of Festival on a co-bill with Making Movies on Saturday, August 14 at 7 p.m. in the backyard of the Sisters Art Works building, 204 W. Adams Ave. Tickets can be found at: https:// href="" target="_blank">


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