July 2016 - Turn it Up: Kate Vargas
Photo by ® Wick Beavers
What if I told you an eight-year-old flutist from Corrales, NM, would grow to be an Americana/Folk singer/songwriter who travels to islands off the coast of Portugal to perform songs lyrically fueled by the New Mexican culture? Though this sounds like the plot of a rags-to-riches blockbuster about a small town musician, it’s actually the real-life story of Kate Vargas.
Kate Vargas began her journey through music at Corrales Elementary School, where a teacher with the nickname “Mr. Musica” helped kick-start her curiosity and passion for music. Years later, at the age of 12, Vargas joined a Jazz program at Albuquerque’s Outpost. It was here that she learned to play guitar and began to truly blossom into a singer/songwriter. Gifted from a very young age with the ability to write from the heart, she began to mesh her poetry and musical abilities to create the sound we hear from her today. For Vargas, pursuing music as a career was never an option. She could never fathom doing anything else as a career.
Pulling inspiration from artists such as Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan, Vargas believes in the power of words. Emphasizing the importance of lyrics and the way they’re delivered is essential in teasing out the imagery in Vargas’s music. Because of Kate’s natural gift for writing, her lyrics have an uncanny ability to pull the listener into a storybook filled with fictional creatures and lovers yearning to find each other.
Many of Vargas’s songs are directly inspired by the folklore of New Mexico. “Mama Watch Me Sink,” from Kate’s debut album Down To My Soul, is a song about the weeping woman, La Llorona. The track paints an eerie picture of Maria watching her children sink into the Rio Grande, backed by driving folk guitar and somber chords.
The delightful and awesome New Mexican stories will most certainly continue on Vargas’s upcoming album, due for release in late Summer or early Fall 2016. “Second Skin,” a new single, tells the tale of the Navajo Skinwalkers and is sure to send chills down the listener’s spine.
Though currently spending time in Europe spreading the joys of her music, Kate intends to set a proper tour for the U.S. in the coming years. Needless to say, New Mexico will definitely be on her list of stops. Kate Vargas’s music, info, and news can be found at her website, www.kate-vargas.com.