Diana Gameros didn't leave anything in San Francisco. The Mexican songstress found her musical heart, instead, when she relocated to the Bay Area city. Since that time, Gameros has grown into her versatile artistic identity. With relaxed vocals that recall Brazilian singer Cibelle's tone, she blends folk sensibilities and jazzy horns together with the sounds of traditional Latin American music.
"I am pretty eclectic in my taste," Gameros tells the Weekly. "I like music from all over the world from Spain, from Brazil, from France." The multilingual singer is bringing her guitar and unique style from Frisco to Viento y Agua Coffeehouse in Long Beach Friday night for another installment of the Mujer(es) Cantando showcase.
Originally from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Gameros settled in the bay in 2008. At first, it was just a vacation destination as she did all the touristy things with her mother. "I had plans to go back to Mexico and work on music projects," Gameros says. She was living in Michigan studying music at the time. At a friend's suggestion, however, Gameros decided to give San Francisco a go, not as a visitor, but as a musician. "I'm going to do music, that's all," she said of her return. And that's all that Gameros has done in the city for the past six years.
The move literally paid off. "My audience is extremely diverse," she says. That came in handy when she launched a Kickstarter campaign for her debut album Eterno Retorno, as fans funded it above and beyond its $15,000 goal.
The resulting 11-song effort's poetic title translates to "Eternal Return" and serves as the base concept for her music. "It comes from my personal experience as an immigrant from Mexico," she says. "It was mainly a play of words on the notion of something taking a long time, like how long it has taken me to go back to my homeland and reunite with my family."
One of the key songs on Eterno Retorno hits really close to home. "En Juarez" takes her back to a place where cartels and corruption infamously turned the city along the West Texas-Mexico border into one known for its high murder rates over the years.
"For me, it was really hard to know my city was going through something like that," Gameros says. Reminiscing about Juarez, she recalls a safe and happy childhood and children are central to the poignant lyrics. "This song comes from the perspective of a mother so it has a protective connotation." She assumes that voice and gives a warning about the reality of the city, but also expresses hope for the future.
Gameros is involved in San Francisco's activist circles and hints at her pro-immigrant rights stance in "SB 1070," but she's doesn't see herself as a rabble-rousing author of explicit protest anthems. "In my music, I don't necessarily intend to use it to give the message," Gameros says. "Initially, it comes from my personal story and that gets tied into a broader political view."
Whatever sparks her inspiration, the singer is constantly looking to be innovative. "I always try to do something new that I haven't done before," Gameros says. And sometimes that means going to a used bookstore, finding an anthology of French poetry and interpreting a poem by Claude Bourine. To her knowledge she's the first to do so.
Not only does Gameros try to do things she hasn't done before, the singer is out there doing things that no one else has done before, either!
Diana Gameros performs with Fadia Mosri and Ruby Castellanos as part of the Mujer(es) Cantando series at Viento y Agua Coffeehouse, 4007 E. 4th St., Long Beach, Fri., 7 p.m. $15. All Ages.