On May 5th, Mexican-American artist & activist Alma Grace is releasing her highly-anticipated debut EP, ‘FRIDA.’ The 4-song EP includes previous singles, “Girl Fight” and “Aventura,” as well as two brand new tracks, “Relámpago” and “Aztlán.”
Frida Kahlo is an artist who has inspired Alma Grace since childhood. She first learned about her through the Frida Kahlo-adorned matchboxes and coasters her Grandmother would bring over from Mexico City. As she grew older and started to learn more about Kahlo’s life, Grace became enthralled by the ways in which the Mexican painter redefined beauty standards and broke down the boundaries places on gender, race and sexuality. “In contrast to classmates and casting directors who criticized me for not being ‘white enough,’ Frida made me feel beautiful for my bushy eyebrows and black hair,” Grace writes. While the ‘FRIDA’ EP is certainly a project inspired by a feminist icon, it’s also an exploration of the ways in which Kahlo’s legacy has helped shape Grace into the woman and artist she is today.
“When I listen to these songs, I hear my transformation from an angsty teen to a semi-independent young adult,” she writes of the EP. “It’s such a special project to me, and I knew that it had to be my artist introduction to the world.”
Weaving Spanish and English lyrics throughout the EP as well as a blend of traditional latin sounds and modern pop melodies, Grace has created a beautiful ode to her bicultural roots. Her narrative-driven lyricism is enchanting, with each song delivering dual stories that tie back to both Kahlo and Grace’s lives. “Aventura” is an ode to adventure and affairs, something that Grace has always admired in Kahlo’s rich life. “Girl Fight” is a queer, feminist anthem that was inspired by Grace’s favorite Kahlo story: after her husband Diego Rivera cheated on her, she had an affair with the same woman. “Aztlan” is about the mythical homeland of the Aztec people and pays homage to both Grace and Kahlo’s ancestors. Lastly, “Relámpago” is all about coping with pain — the physical pain Kahlo suffered due to her near fatal bus accident and the emotional trauma Grace dealt with after being sexually assaulted.
Alma Grace launched her music project last year with a string of buzzworthy singles. Her mixed musical influences are reflective of a globalized upbringing— she learned how to love from Selena, make witty comebacks from Shania Twain, and turn pain into art from Lauryn Hill. In addition to her budding music career, Grace has also performed on Broadway and Lincoln Center stages, been featured at Tribeca Film Festival, and acted in a multitude of films and TV shows.
Despite only being 21 years old, the NYC born-and-raised songstress has also had an impressive career in social justice. As an activist, she attended her first protest at the age of 13, has volunteered with community-based organizations in Harlem, and has worked in both the Bronx and the U.S. Senate to defend immigrants facing deportation — a cause close to her heart as a second generation Mexican American.
Aventura starts off slow to channel the energy in the opening track, dropping instantly into a flow of steady relaxation. Above all else the beats help you move along into quite a different listen to that of most artists.
Heading into Girl Fight, Alma Grace shows how beautiful a voice she has. The way she takes a regular track and uses her voice is just mesmerising. It’s as if you’re in a fixed trance and you just can’t stop listening to her music. The track is already an ear worm for myself and what I hope will happen is that everyone in the near future catches this because unlike most anthem tracks, it doesn’t take a lot to suck you into her world. A track which title partly means adventure in a double meaning with affair, this is one adventure you can’t skip under any circumstances.
Changing things up a little for the third offering ‘Aztlán’ it offers light relief blending her songwriting skills with a more relaxing instrumental backing to that of the first track on this release but there is still the enbodyment of the undertones to keep in line with the EP. This is absolutely the most mellow EP I’ve listened to in while and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Things get turned up more on Relámpago. It’s more in line with more popular structure of larger artists but Alma brings her unique ability to the table in full force which makes for good relief to that of the rest of the track listing on this one.
One thing that’s clear about the EP is that there’s a defined sound with FRIDA executes perfectly. It shows she’s an artist who’s fearless and confident in her capabilities and will stretch that creative ability whenever the means calls for her to do so.
If this is a stepping stone for Alma Grace then I will gladly await to hear what she has in store for us next because when that drops it will be thoroughly worth the wait.
Check out the EP, ‘FRIDA’ via your preferred streaming service.