Turning to the arts is an expected and gratifying outlet and resource for any civil rights movement and for collective community healing, but Covid-19 has made organizing community gatherings all the more difficult and being hopeful for the future even more challenging. Marela Lizárraga, Latiné composer, vocalist, and performing artist is taking action to strengthen community and inspire during this difficult time.
On October 16th, Marela Lizárraga will be performing in a virtual event called Make Noise For Mutual Aid along with three other artists/groups. South King County & Eastside Mutual Aid is raising money to support families and individuals in QTBIPOC and undocumented communities directly affected by the pandemic, as well as survivors, sick & disabled, and immunocompromised folks affected. SKC+E Mutual Aid coordinates needed deliveries of groceries and other household necessities for free, and are hoping to meet its winter fundraising goal, according to their Linktree.
“When I feel overwhelmed by everything and overwhelmed by grief and loss I try and grab onto a lot of these moments of hope. Whether it’s seeing Black artists and friends succeed or seeing people advocating for change within their communities and encouraging everyone to vote or trying to make financial contributions or engaging in learning and having really hard conversations with friends, loved ones, and families. Things like that make me feel like people do care,” Lizárraga explains.
“I think those little steps that everyone is making is going to have such a big impact. there’s a sense of urgency now that’s really driving all of us. It’s strange how something like a pandemic has brought that about. I am in that way thankful that there is an urgency placed on these issues that have been around for a long time.”
Marela Lizárraga was born and raised in North Seattle, Washington. Her family of five grew up in a two-bedroom apartment where she and her sister shared a room until she went off to college. She recalls fondly her grandmother’s yard in Seattle that was littered with towering trees and room to run around outside and reminisces of listening to her Peruvian father’s Quena and traditional Peruvian folk songs and Spanish ballads as a kid.
Her father was her musical influence while her mother nurtured her talent, so the death of her father during an already brutal year was devastating. “It was kind of like a double whammy of hard realities to face. Facing a world in a pandemic and I’m facing a world without my dad. For many months, until maybe September really, I didn’t feel creative at all and I didn’t feel inspired to do anything,” Marela Lizárraga explains.
After taking some time to process the loss with family and friends Marela Lizárraga seems inspired to create and perform again. “It’s very strange to be someone whose livelihood depends on performing. I’ve had a booking agent in the past but I’ve often just booked a lot of my own shows and tours and it’s such a community sort of affair,” Marela Lizárraga says of live shows. “It’s a very social outlet for me and I think losing playing shows makes me feel a little empty, just because it was such a big way for me to be socially engaged with the community and with friends and other artists.”
But, since virtual shows are the primary performance outlet at this time, Marela Lizárraga is giving it a shot. “I think it’s really cool that friends and communities are starting to be like, ‘We need to figure out how we can still play shows and be engaged with each other and our communities,’” she explains. “I think it’s all about intention and seeing that I’m creating something I’m able to put out into the world. I have to try and make money but at the same time, if I can portion a part of that money that I’m making back into my community, it strengthens everything.”
The collective grief of the injustice of the many QTBIPOC lives lost at the hands of white supremacists and the institutions that authorize, sanction, and approve of their actions, and the over 200k deaths in the U.S. alone due to Covid-19, that also impact Black and Latinx communities at a higher rate has been overwhelmingly difficult for communities of color, so finding those bright spots make all the difference. “I know that Seattle will always be important to me and being able to contribute directly to communities in Seattle through sharing some art feels really important to me,” Marela Lizárraga explains. “I want my music sharing to always benefit communities I care about and that are at risk. It is a choice to care for yourself and others and to dream about creating a world as we imagine it could be. That choice to continue caring must be sustained, by the different ways we choose to show up.”
Choose to show up and purchase tickets for Make Noise For Mutual Aid HERE. This event will give fans the opportunity to hear recent music Marela Lizárrago has been working on since her 2017 release, “Call It Love”. There will also be an opportunity to virtually tip Briana Marela Lizárraga during the show. Marela Lizárraga plans to give a portion of her tips to the Mutual Aid efforts as well. If you feel called to send money directly to Briana Marela Lizárraga, her Venmo is simply; Briana Marela.