It’s an unfortunate time in our nation’s recent history when the cultural divide is so wide, chants of “Build the wall!” are commonplace.
Yet even as some seem to embrace a sort of national exclusivity, others are celebrating the melting pot that is more truly reflective of this country’s very foundation.
Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, a dark, soul-filled pop outfit out of Detroit, looks to combat that divisiveness directly with its upcoming dual bilingual albums, Telephone and Telefono. And while the initial intent of releasing both an English and Spanish album side-by-side had nothing to do with the current state of political discourse, the band feels its releases couldn’t be more timely.
“The album was recorded right before the election,” Jessica Hernandez said. “I really thought Hillary was going to be in office, so I wasn’t writing this and thinking about it in that way. But then as things started culminating and the scope of everything immediately changed, by then I was actually going in to record vocals and it definitely shifted everything.”
Hernandez, whose father is Chilean and whose mother is Mexican, initially conceived the concept of the bilingual albums as more of an homage to her heritage than as a societal statement. The intent was to bring fans of each style of music together and expose them to music that they might not have been otherwise.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to merge the two worlds and to get Spanish speakers into the idea of listening to American music, and to get English speakers open to the idea of listening to music in Spanish,” Hernandez said. “I think that by creating these two albums and having things that are exclusively on one or the other, it was more of an incentive for fans to think, ‘Well, I’m curious about this song, but it’s not on here. So maybe I’ll give it a listen.’
“(We hope to) kind of broaden people’s minds a little bit.”
The process by which Hernandez approached her Spanish vocals for the album was nothing short of immersive, traveling to Mexico City and speaking and singing exclusively in Spanish for several weeks to ensure the record’s musical authenticity.
“It definitely made me want to dig a little bit deeper into that world,” Hernandez said. “When you’re doing something in Spanish, you’re so focused on articulation and on understanding exactly what you’re trying to say. You realize how often you take for granted breathing and articulation. I feel like it made me a better vocalist because it helped me understand what I’m doing in English, (and what) I can bring to my Spanish-speaking voice and help that.”
The new albums are slated for release early this summer. But if you’d like a taste of what’s to come, you can check the band out at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe this month.
See Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas:
Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo
May 21, 7 p.m., $14, 21+
bellsbeer.com, (269) 382-2332