Ximena Sarinana Turns 'Hobby' Into Career Young pop vocalist Ximena Sarinana used to act in telenovelas, but now she writes songs inspired by American pop and traditional Latin American music. Her debut album, Mediocre, is hitting sales charts and getting radio play on both sides of the border. All this from someone who calls music and acting "hobbies."

Ximena Sarinana Turns 'Hobby' Into Career

Ximena Sarinana Turns 'Hobby' Into Career

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Ximena Sarinana is the daughter of Mexican film director Fernando Sarinana and screenwriter Carolina Rivera. Zony Maya hide caption

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Zony Maya

Mexican vocalist Ximena Sarinana was one of those kids lucky enough to have parents with great taste in music. She says she grew up in an artistic household where the music flowed as freely as the conversations about all things artistic.

"My dad has always loved music, used to play guitar when I was young... When I was little, he used to sing me songs on his guitar," Sarinana says. "Music would always be playing in our apartment when I was a kid. He would play things like Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, traditional Latin American music, classical and a little bit of jazz. And I fell in love with it all."

Those childhood listening sessions have paid off.

Sarinana's debut CD, Mediocre, is getting acclaim from all sides: sales charts, radio play in the U.S. and Latin America, and the crossover recognition of a four-star review from Rolling Stone magazine. But she says she started memorizing scripts before she started memorizing lyrics.

As the daughter of a respected Mexican film director (Fernando Sarinana) and an acclaimed screenwriter (Carolina Rivera), she couldn't avoid becoming being a child actor. After an introduction to film acting at age 11, she moved to the telenovelas, then back to a series of films directed by her father and written by her mother.

Her first notable foray into the music business came at the tender age of 8, when she sang the theme song to a popular telenovela. After composing music for her father's films, she turned what she called a "hobby" into a profession.

"Music and acting have always been my hobbies," she says. "So now, working in music, I'm doing what I love the most. I get to travel, meet people. But what I enjoy most is the ability to express myself, to say what you think. And I think that's the most rewarding of this job."

Sarinana was raised both in the U.S. and Mexico, which she says has afforded her the best of two languages. She's bilingual, but she chose to compose the music for her first album in Spanish.

"I just felt a need to master Spanish before trying to write in English," Sarinana says. "Because for me, lyrics are very important — as important as the music itself. I've been working really hard on expressing innermost emotions in Spanish."

The 22-year-old vocalist says that she has written songs in English; in fact, her record label has included one of those songs on the Mexican edition of her debut CD. She says she'd like to do more writing in English, but that she has to work to duplicate the flow of imagery and emotion that her Spanish lyrics convey.