Music. Art. Culture. Writing.
The shots fired in Tucson on January 8, 2011 still echo through our desert barrio, lingering with our sense of disbelief and astonished awe in the face of such brutality. Ten months later, we are still searching for ways to reclaim community and honor the victims and heroes from that tragic winter morning.
It’s no surprise that the arts have a vital role in that process, and the latest release from Ft. Lowell Records is a perfect example of artists rallying to help Tucson heal. “Luz de Vida” (Light of Life) is a compilation featuring 37 tracks assembled by Music Against Violence, a coalition of Tucson writers, recording engineers, and venue operators.
“Music is the thread that keeps life going,” says Joey Burns of Calexico, and listening to the songs gives the impression that the very act of recording them was a kind of healing release. “Luz de Vida” represents this forward momentum, this embrace of life and hope for a better future.
But it’s more than that. The album is a taste of Tucson, a sample of who we are and how we have started to make peace with the past. Featured artists include Giant Sand, Mariachi Luz de Luna, Seashell Radio, Chango Malo, Calexico, Ozomatli, Tracy Shedd and 30 others, with proceeds directed to the Tucson Together Fund.
Like Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a survivor and a symbol of hope in the face of tragedy, “Luz de Vida” represents Tucson’s emotional response to the violence, our collective effort to restore community. The last track, a lingering seven-minute tune by Salvador Duran, sums things up nicely. With contemplative lyrics and his timeless, meandering whistle, we are reminded that life continues, despite the scars we carry with us. Music is there to make us whole again.
This article originally appeared in Tucson’s hyper-local Zocalo Magazine.