“Cultural ambassador” is not a title Gina Chavez takes lightly.
The singer-songwriter, described as “a multi-ethnic, bilingual Latina pop artist,” recently completed a 12-country tour as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department, seeking to unite audiences around the globe.
Although she is now touring in the United States, Chavez continues to reach out to people, especially young women and students. “I want to build bridges,” she said.
Chavez will be in Red Wing next week, meeting with the community and with students in schools. The residency culminates in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the Sheldon Theatre.
In her concerts, she said, “We take the audience on a journey of self-discovery” that draws on her heritage and her life today.
Chavez, who grew up in Texas, has a Mexican-American father and a Swiss-German mother. She began writing music while studying in Argentina, where she discovered a love for folk music and dance.
Since that time, her music has incorporated Spanish lyrics and Latin rhythms in a unique style that blends the sounds of the Americas.
Her bilingual album, “Up.Rooted,” topped the Amazon and Latin iTunes charts after she was featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and her NPR “Tiny Desk” concert has had more than 900,000 views. Her national TV debut can be seen on pbs.org The Kate.
Chavez is a 12-time Austin Music Award winner, including 2019 Female Vocalist, and her Spanish language anthem, “Siete-D,” won grand prize in the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest. It recounts her experience volunteering in a gang-dominated suburb of San Salvador where she and her wife co-founded Ninas Arriba, a college fund for young Latinas.
The current tour features a new EP, “Lightbeam,” which is a collection of songs about the journey and hardships she and her wife have undergone to be able to publicly express their love for each other as Catholic, Latinx women.
At times that musical journey is introspective, Chavez said, but it also will bring the excitement of a Latin dance band to the Sheldon. “If the audience is willing to get out of their seats,” she said, she and her four-member band “will give them a reason to do so.”
Chavez and her albums have been widely praised. Austin Monthly called the new release “a breath of fresh air.” According to the Boston Globe, “Most striking is Chavez’s ease as she moves between social and love songs, between North American and Latin genres, and even between languages.”
Tickets to the Oct. 25 concert are $20. She’ll have t-shirts and recordings for sale afterward. For reservations or more information, contact the Sheldon at 651-388-8700 or go to www.sheldontheatre.org.