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“Yerba mala” will be the title of my new album that brings together Latin-Jazz, Pop, Ballads, all baptized with several refreshing folkloristic compositions. Its graphic design will include a selection of my paintings in which I depict animals as symbols of change or important moments in my life and plants as symbols of cultural identification and femininity.  This album is a celebration of change and a reaffirmation of the person I have become since I chose to work as a singer and painter. Its title “Yerba mala” (Bad weed), is a popular expression to define someone that is no good or has a rebellious behavior and can be used to call a woman who doesn’t conform with the established rules and conventions.

A change in style

In the last 18 months this title has obtained a stronger and more personal relevance and became more transcendental in my artistic expression. My dresses have more color, new paintings have become more abundant in natural elements and my songs have become more folkloristic. At the same time a heated discussion in the media about gender equality has come again to our attention making clear that despite our achievements in a society that praises to be egalitarian, we cannot deny we still have much to learn. These discussions inspire me to write about my gender experience from the perspective of an artist.

My old self and double standards

Before I started this project, I assumed a passive approach in my everyday life and avoided conflict as much as I could. I used to believe that in order to be feminine, to be a good teammate and to achieve what I wanted I had to keep quiet, say only the positive things and never complain. I also had to smile and never raise my voice. In other words: “be a good girl”. How wrong I was! By accepting and following the conventions and rules I didn’t make, I ended frustrated and unsatisfied. Some of these conventions came from the culture in which I grew up and from my family. To my surprise I also found many of those conventions here in Germany. For example, a woman once told me that I look angry on stage. I told her that I was not angry but focused on my performance and that my colleagues didn’t smile neither. To this, she answered: “Yes, but they are men!” I found this situation rather funny than anything else, but it serves as an example that we could encounter and participate in a double standard where a certain behaviour or appearance is expected from us simply because we are women.

Automatic behaviour and compromises

We all follow an automatic behaviour every day when we go to work, our routine to go to bed, among others. This only becomes problematic if we assume an automatic way of thinking for things that would require a deep reflection. The process of writing my new songs involved questioning my own automatic behaviour. I was unfortunately following a traditional gender role that I was taught since I was young.

Today, I am not willing to compromise my authenticity for conventions and rules that are not mine. I smile only if I want to. I don’t color my hair. I don’t wear tight clothes in dark colors because I feel better in loose and colorful clothes. I don’t have to lose weight to look sexy because I don’t have to look sexy. And most importantly, I say what I think even if the other side doesn’t like my words. If that person doesn’t want to listen, I simply turn around and leave. By doing or not doing these things I am not more or less feminine. Not following conventions usually unfolds into conflict but these confrontations are a sign that our interactions need to change!

Someone once told me: “your feminism is a wall and an obstacle”. I say: my belief in a more equal society is not an obstacle but a rule of engagement.

Yerba Mala (translated lyrics)

Bad weed is what I want to be
in your hands again
and thus sleep after making love
Oh, leka nosht my love

To awake with your kisses
and like a free warrior
face the world fiercely and without fear

Bad weed, bad weed I want to be
give bitter verses with honey flavour
And though it hurts, I’ll always tell the truth
Laughter is worthless in a life of falsehood

May they call me bad weed
and yet I will not die
I will blossom in the fields
with others like me

And no matter if destiny hurts me
or if I am blessed by God
I am a swallow under the sky in Zagora

Bad weed, bad weed I want to be
give bitter verses with honey flavour
And though it hurts, I’ll always tell the truth
Laughter is worthless in a life of falsehood

Video (duo version)

This video is an early duo version of the song – for the „Yerba Mala“ album, we will record an arrangement featuring a percussion set of congas, bongos and güiro as well as guitars, double bass and trumpet.

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Video-Link: http://youtu.be/M7WEd2NOSvo