Evelyn Rubio is a brilliant and charismatic blues-rock vocalist, songwriter, and saxophone player whose album Crossing Borders from May of last year is easily one of 2020’s most underrated (and largely overlooked) treasures. Recently I spoke with this super dynamic performer about that album, her music, and her future plans. Our resultant conversation, edited for length and clarity is below.
Americana Highways: Who do you consider to be your biggest musical influences?
Evelyn Rubio: It’s hard to say just one name so I will say three – Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Tina Turner. I could go on and on but those are the big ones.
AH: How would you best describe your music?
ER: I would say it’s like a rainbow and by that I mean because of my love for different kinds of music, I can give everyone who listens to my music different colors to hear. I can be aggressive. I can be sexy. I can be fancy, or a little bit more sophisticated in my musical styles. I can also be all those colors at once and that fact shows in my live performances.
AH: With your latest album Crossing Borders, which came out in May of last year, would you say that there was an overall theme that you were aiming for with the songs?
ER: Yes, I would say that the theme was just like the title in that it was about crossing borders in many ways, both socially and musically. If you listen to the entire album, I think that comes across in the music and lyrics that you hear.
AH: Your live shows are indeed known for their ferocity and intensity. How would you best describe what’s going on in your head when you are on the stage performing live?
ER: I am constantly thinking about bringing the fire. I think that is how all live shows should be – full of passion and energy like Michael Jackson’s were. When you are up on that stage you want to give everything you got to the people who came to see you perform live. That’s just how it is supposed to be and anything less is just unacceptable in my mind.
AH: In general, how you perform live is really what sets you apart as a musical artist, don’t you agree?
ER: Yes, I think to be a great musical artist, you have to be a great live act as well. If you can do that, you deserve to be world-famous in my opinion.
AH: What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
ER: I would say to just enjoy your journey and your path. Think of your music career as a marathon and learn to enjoy the whole thing because music careers are very, very difficult and the industry is super competitive. There is just so much great talent out there. Understand that it’s going to be harder for some people than for others and that sometimes things are just going to happen that is going to be frustrating. That is why it is so important to learn how to enjoy every little step along the way.
AH: Given your vast musical experience, what would you say music means to you?
ER: I would say it’s like my blood because it is so much a part of what I am. Music is inside all of us. It doesn’t matter if you ever achieve any level of popularity or fame with it. You just live it. In that sense, it’s like life itself.
AH: What are some of your plans for 2021?
ER: Well, I know it sounds crazy but the first thing that I want to do is just survive.
The second thing, of course, concerns my music. I am always thinking about my next project and one of the beautiful things about not having a contract with a label is that you are always free to do whatever music you want. You are also always able to switch up the kind of music that you are creating and that’s what I plan on doing. In that vein, I have some tracks that are already recorded and some others that I am thinking about recording that are in different musical styles than I normally play and perform in. There are also some collaborations with other artists that I am thinking about doing. I will probably also be releasing an EP sometime this year as well. Along with all of that, in 2021, I am also continually looking at how best to get back to performing safely in front of live audiences because, like all performers everywhere, I miss it so much.
To find out more about Evelyn Rubio and to order her latest album Crossing Borders please visit her website.