Miami musician Sol Ruiz gets a lot of comparisons to Janis Joplin, even though she sees herself as more of an Edith Piaf.
A graduate of New World, she signed with EMI when she was just 19 and has worked with Cuban bands like Descemer Beno's Siete Rayo and Lucrecia.
She spent some time in New Orleans before coming back to Miami armed with her very own musical genre, "Psychedelic Cuban Blues."
For her first album, Outlander, she worked with producer Booby MacIntyre from the Twilight Singers.
She's currently working on her second album and is looking for community-based funding on Kickstarter.
Did you grow up in Miami?
Sol Ruiz: I'm a Miami child, born and raised. I grew up on 71st in Miami Beach, Normandy Isle. The Latin Ghetto, in the old times. Now, it's all nice and fixed up. I spent a lot of time walking up and down those streets with my brother and sister, going to the beach, drinking aqua de coco from the coco trees.
My family is Cuban. I went to New World School of the Arts for musical theatre, in that time which I moved in with my grandmother and got closer to my Cuban roots and started speaking more Spanish. I got into lots of Cuban music like Los Vanvan, Benny More, and La Lupe.
Did you "invent" Psychedelic Cuban Blues?
I did make it up but I didn't really mean to do it intentionally. I just didn't know how to name my own music, so I put the words together that I thought fit me most.
What did you learn during your time in the French Quarter?
My time in New Orleans was a spooky time. I lived right next to the 9th ward for a few weeks, but never lived in the French Quarter, although that's were friends would meet and of course that were I busked. I spent most of the day with a banjo on my back, riding my bicycle, and making up songs on the spot for a dollar.
But I found a common ground there, because people from Nawlins are a lot like Cubans. Friendly and musical. Once I came back to Miami. I had a lot of new ideas, and began working with Bobby on the last CD, Outlander. I think New Orleans is still a huge influence on who I am. It's a dark, yet cheerful place, and somehow, I fit right in. Many of those last songs were written there: "Soledad" and "Back My Way."
What are your thoughts on the Miami music scene?
I think there is a great music scene in Miami but it needs to grow a lot more. We have the Caribbean/South American influences, very strong, along with southern country music, that's Miami roots, even also a hint of Native American. The real "Miami sound", I feel is that. A mix between Latin music and American country music.
I wouldn't change anything about the scene here, I think everything has its process, and we are a very, very young city. Like the baby of the world, we have a lot of learning to do here as far as a thriving music scene is concerned.
Which of your tracks would you recommend to someone new to your music?
I would have them listen to "Soledad" (video below), because the melody sings in ways that I was just starting to discover in that time. And it opened the doors of perception that I was about to head into.