Best known as the lead singer of El Chicano — the '70s rock group that mixed jazz, R&B, and Latin rhythms from East L.A. — Ersi Arvizu released her first-ever solo album, Friend for Life, this week. It exists in large part due to the influence of composer, musician, and producer Ry Cooder.
Cooder first tracked Arvisu down five years ago, as he put together Chavez Ravine, which tells the story of an old, politically charged neighborhood in East L.A. Her authentic sound and voice was just what he said he wanted for his album. She recorded the song "Chavez Ravinek," which turned out to be a prelude to her solo work.
Friend for Life was produced by Cooder and written mostly by Arvizu in collaboration with her old friend and keyboardist, Joey Navarro. Arvizu sings in both Spanish and English on the album, which tells a memorable story of survival.