The American Dream: An Interview with Raye Zaragoza

Photo courtesy of TBH2
For the first time in what seems like forever, the voices of women are being heard - and they have a lot to say. For many, finding that inner bravery to speak what the mind is thinking can take time. Award-winning singer/songwriter Raye Zaragoza found that inner bravery in her latest single, “Warrior”.

“I wrote ‘Warrior’ about being pretty mortified to play amphitheaters solo,” she said. “Everyone told me I was out of my mind, but I knew in my heart I could do it - and it was going to speak to people. Whenever I am looking for bravery, I honestly think of my grandmothers. They endured so much so I could be here today. Whenever I need strength, thinking of them makes me feel unstoppable.”

Her grandmothers have inspired her music in more ways than one, despite having never met her great-grandmother Villa. In another single, “American Dream”, Zaragoza tells the tale of her great-grandmother and how she was forced into a boarding school to be raised separately from her parents and siblings. It’s a story that has been told in her family since she was a child, and it’s a story that haunts her.

“I've always seen my songs as way for me to communicate with her,” she said. “We're all connected, all generations of our family. I'm still fighting the same fight she was, and I continue to fight for her and her story.”

Zaragoza’s story is equally as inspirational. Her multinational heritage - Native American (O'odham), Mexican, Taiwanese and Japanese - gave her a rare take on life and sparked her love of music at an early age. Her perspective on growing up as a female multicultural youth, as well as her thoughts on politics and environmental education have all been addressed in her songs.

“I always speak from my own personal truth as a woman of color having grown up in the United States,” she said. “I embrace it, but it is funny to me when I'm labeled as a "protest songwriter". The label kind of makes it seem like I woke up one day and decided to write songs of a political nature. But truly, I am just writing from my life and my experiences. I am just writing what I know. So I really find the words from looking within myself. I've realized the deeper I go, the more relatable it can be.”

Raye Zaragoza is digging deeper not only into what she’s been writing about but into herself to find truths that will speak to her audience in her next full-length album. By continuing to be a light in the darkness of finding inner bravery, her powerful messages make her a strong voice in the music industry.