Turning grief on its head: Parents’ death infuses local songwriter’s debut album
By Andrew Alonzo | email@example.com
Local singer, songwriter, and producer Anamaria De La Cruz has been grappling with complex feelings of loss, grief, and heartbreak stemming from the death of her parents Janis Peterson, in 2018, and Roberto De La Cruz four years later, and is hoping to soften the difficult emotional punch with her debut record, “Gone,” set to be released in 2024.
Her parents met in 1972 when they were working as union organizers for Cesar Chavez. De La Cruz, 43, was raised during the Civil Rights Movement in both California and Massachusetts. The couple had four children together, Alegría, Arnulfo, Anamaria, and Alejandro before separating in 1988.
“I started writing five years ago,” De La Cruz said. “I knew I wanted to record, and I started building a home audio studio, but I was frustrated with … the amount that I needed to learn for the sound I wanted to get on the audio side.”
Grammy-award winning sound engineer Chris Sorum is mixing the record. She worked with musicians Ioannis Markoulakis, Wyman Reese, Evren Edler, and Emilio Corrales, who are also members of her live band, which is performing from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, October 14 at Shelton Park as part of Claremont Heritage’s Dia de los Muertos event.
The Kickstarter campaign for the new record, which is nearing its $5,000 funding mark, closes October 31. Backers will receive early access to the album in February 2024, with the public release set for October.
With “Gone,” De La Cruz blends her Mexican-Irish raised Catholic-Buddhist in California and Massachusetts background to articulate the loss of her parents through the music which includes elements of folk, rock, pop, country, and blues.
“I think it’s just kind of like expressing what it feels like when you are going through that, like right there in it in the moment,” she said. “Whether it is because the relationship ended or you had somebody who passed away, I think it’s just kind of expressing those complicated feelings of loss and grief and heartbreak.
“The interesting piece is that the music — writing it and performing it and recording it, and also at the same time when you hear it — it eases some of the grief. It’s almost like I wrote it and I didn’t know that it was going to make me feel better.”
She hopes the record will uplift listeners in the same way.
“It wasn’t hard to write it, the music just came out so that was kind of inevitable,” De La Cruz said. “The project pushed me out of my comfort zone to share pretty intimate music with other people.
“I’m comfortable being on stage and singing and performing and even acting, but this was different because it was personal. My hope is that when it’s shared with other people, I do hope that it provides some sort of salve, or something that makes people feel better when they hear it, that it gives something to the listener.”
Her goals are both obvious — to release high quality music — and broad: to stake her claim as a vital female artist.
“The stats with female artists and producers and songwriters are really low in the world right now,” De La Cruz said. “I feel like that’s important, and I also hope to be part of the movement that changes that for future generations of musicians.”
Her biggest goal, however, was to simply make something her parents would have been proud to listen to.
“I think when I was recording it and even listening back, certainly they were both just so excited and supportive,” she said. “I think they recognized early on that I was a musician, and they were I think my best audience members,” she said. “I think certainly, a lot of this music I was writing and singing to them, even though they weren’t with me when I was writing it. That I think is kind of like a love story.
“I wish they were here with me in person to be part of this process, but I know that they would be really proud and excited about this.”
On top of working on her debut album, De La Cruz recently opened a music studio in Claremont where she offers private voice and piano lessons for children ages 10 to 14, mommy and me music classes for caregivers and newborns up to 5, and sound healing courses. More info is at anamariadelacruz.com/copy-of-classes.