By Rayme Samuels
With mentors like former Yerba Buena powerhouse Descemer Bueno and Cuban trovador Roberto Poveda, it’s almost a wonder we haven’t heard of Sol Ruiz sooner. This savvy pioneer of a style she calls “Psychedelic Cuban Blues” has been rocking on stages since she was five years old, earning the nickname among her peers as the “Cuban Janis Joplin”. Through her gritty tunes she hopes to inspire girls to want bad guys and guys to like the bad girls.
Growing up surrounded by the music of her parents’ generation, Ruiz actually feels a very strong connection with older audiences as compared to those her own age. “I really do enjoy playing for the older crowds down here because I think they see in me something nostalgic, but fresh,” Ruiz said. “They really understand me better sometimes because they've experienced a lot more.” Perhaps it’s because these audiences remember the great influencers of her sound: La Lupe, Benny More, Billie Holiday and Johnny Cash.
“Miami audiences are tough because they always expect a rhythm that makes them want to dance. They still aren't used to something raw and fresh, and uninhibited.” However, she pointedly notes that local audiences are becoming a little bit more open to different sounding music. Ruiz feels at home performing for Latin communities and believes that a lot of people here can easily relate to the things she talks about in her songs.
Spending a lot of time on the road, Ruiz picked up some southern influences to mix with her “son cubano” sound while touring last year in places like Savannah, Ga. and New Orleans. Her voice is dark and edgy, a quality she hones by bending notes and changing tones often. In between wrapping up her album and working on writing projects for other artists in Los Angeles and Miami, this summer Sol plans to hit up Europe. It’ll be more than interesting to see what she brings back home.
Sol Ruiz will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 7 at Moonchine, 7100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami; 305-759-3999. Check out her website at www.solishere.com.
Sol Ruiz. Photo: Carolina Merlano