Austin, Texas singer/songwriter Rose Gabriel just released "Desert Flowers" - an album that takes you on a wondrous journey centering around life in El Paso. With songs like "Pastel Boxes" and "El Paso Blues," she paints a picture of life in the west Texas border city. Rose has a voice that is not only beautiful, but also incredibly soothing. One moment you will feel like dancing and the next it will lull you into a musical coma that you won't want to wake up from. Sit back, grab some headphones and listen to the work of art that is "Desert Flowers."
Tell us a little bit about your musical background.
My dad played piano and sang in nightclubs in El Paso and Juarez, Mexico when he was younger. One of my earliest musical memories is sitting next to my dad at the piano and singing “Raindrops are Falling on My Head”. My step-dad played guitar and sang Johnny Cash songs. He taught me my first song, which included some pretty complicated picking patterns, at around 11 years of age.
Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
My daughter Lily is my biggest source of inspiration. She is already a really good singer/songwriter at 17 and we approach songwriting completely differently, so it is nice to learn from her.
This album is such a homage to El Paso, what is your connection and why did it influence you so deeply?
I was born and raised in El Paso and could not wait to leave. When I started up with songwriting again, images of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico kept popping up, so I decided to do a record based on my life there.
The 4th track is entitled “Maria” – is it based on someone that you know?
Yes. Maria was one of our maids when I was a kid. She was young, beautiful, sweet and nurturing. One day I came home from swim practice with a raging fever. Maria rubbed Vicks Vapo Rub on my back and chest, wrapped me up in blankets and the next morning, I was good a new. I will always remember that and her. She left one weekend and never came back. It really broke my heart.
Who would you like to collaborate with musically?
John Prine, Natalie Maines, Kimmie Rhodes, Mary Gauthier
What is your idea of happiness? I am happiest when I am playing and singing with my daughter Lily. I have a house and property in Wimberly and being there, away from the noise of the city, makes me really happy. I also LOVE to cook, so I am really happy when I am cooking a huge meal for family and friends.
Stranded on an island, what are your three must-haves?
A guitar, coffee and my man. I think I could figure the rest out.
What is your dream gig/venue?
Locally, I would love to play Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon because it is an Austin icon and close to my house. I would also love to play the Broken Spoke.
You do a beautiful rendition of “Jesus Would Have Loved El Paso” by the late Tim Henderson, what made you choose this song for your album?
I was playing at a gospel show and Tim Henderson’s wife Marian sent this song to a friend and asked her if she would play it. After hearing it, my friend, Christy Moore, knowing I was from El Paso, sent it to me and suggested I should play it instead. Marian was at the show when I covered the song and it made her cry. I wanted one more song for the EP and this one seemed like a natural choice.
How was working with Matt Smith at Six String Ranch studio?
Matt is a dream to work with. He gently pushes you to do things you did not know you could do. Matt hears your songs for the first time and knows exactly what to do. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found him. HIs studio is so beautiful and comforting. You can relax and just do what you do.
What is in the future for Rose Gabriel?
In June, I am going to Paris with my daughter. I went last year and was fortunate enough to play a few open mic’s while there. I look forward to playing a few places while with my kid this time around. When I return, I hope to schedule some shows around Texas but particularly in El Paso.
Click album to purchase "Desert Flowers" by Rose Gabriel