Meet the inspirational peacemaker and singer/songwriter Raye Zaragoza.
Kyle Warner: Can you talk a little bit about how your heritage has influenced your music?
Raye Zaragoza: My heritage shaped my outlook on the world, so it’s also had a huge influence on my music. Growing up as an ethically ambiguous Native American/Mexican/Japanese/Taiwanese girl in New York City, people often asked about my background within minutes of meeting me. When I was younger, that made me uncomfortable – I always wanted to “fit in,” so it took me a long time to embrace the multinational heritage that made me stand out. My journeys toward being proud of who I am and finding my voice as a singer-songwriter happened simultaneously. Now I dedicate my voice and my music to amplifying the voices of those who feel silenced – those who feel they don’t “fit in” because of the color of their skin or for any other reason. Growing up as a minority can be a challenge, and my greatest goal is to inspire young people of all ages to speak up and be proud of who we are. My heritage greatly influences my music because it is a driving force within me to want to create change in this world.
KW: It’s clear protecting the environment is something near and dear to your heart. Your song ‘In The River’ is incredibly powerful. What is the feeling of seeing a cause so close to your heart gaining mainstream attention in part because of a song you made?
RZ: It was overwhelming to receive messages from people all year saying that my song exposed them to the injustices at Standing Rock. To me, it is all the proof I need that music can change the world, even if it’s one person at a time.
KW: Have you seen a change in your fanbase since that video has gone viral?
RZ: My fanbase has grown significantly since the “In the River” video went viral, and I’m grateful that it has allowed so many people to connect over our shared desire for a more equitable and peaceful world. “Fan” doesn’t seem like the right word, though – we’re teammates, fighting for the same things and for each other, so I prefer to call them Warriors or Peacemakers.