Tish Hinojosa has drawn numerous critical accolades for her borderless approach to music, blending Mexican folk and country music with a modern singer/songwriter sensibility and touches of pop. Born Leticia Hinojosa in San Antonio in 1955, Hinojosa's parents were Mexican immigrants, and she soaked up their music as well as the area's country sounds and the socially relevant rock & roll of the '60s. She started playing guitar as a teenager, singing folk and pop songs in local clubs; she also sang commercial jingles for a Spanish-language radio station, and recorded a few Latin pop songs for a local label as well. In 1979, she moved to Taos, NM, and eventually landed a job singing backup with Michael Martin Murphey. In 1983, she relocated to Nashville and tried to make it as a singer and/or songwriter, but found that she didn't fit the mold of what record companies wanted, despite recording a one-off single for Curb ("I'll Pull You Through"). In 1985, she moved back to Taos, and two years later completed the self-released cassette Taos to Tennessee. In 1988, she moved to Austin and hit the city's thriving roots music scene, where she knew her distinctiveness would find a better reception. Hinojosa quickly landed a deal with A&M, and in 1989 she issued her official debut album, Homeland, which received highly complimentary reviews. Her next effort, Culture Swing, was released by the respected roots label Rounder in 1992 to even greater acclaim; thanks to its free-thinking musical cross-pollination, the National Association of Independent Record Distributors named it Folk Album of the Year. Around the same time, Watermelon issued three archival recordings, including a live album, a holiday album, and the first appearance of Taos to Tennessee on CD. Thanks to the attention surrounding Culture Swing, Hinojosa landed a deal with Warner Bros., debuting for the label with 1994's Destiny's Gate. Although her time with Warner signaled a more polished approach (some naysayers said sanitized), she also continued to record more specific projects for Rounder, starting with 1995's Frontejas, an overview of Texas/Mexico border music that won massive respect in the Latin music community. Dreaming from the Labyrinth followed on Warner in 1996, and that same year she issued a bilingual children's album, Cada Niño (Every Child), on Rounder. Frustrated by Warner's reluctance to put out more of her material, Hinojosa eventually secured her release from the label and returned to Rounder. In the meantime, she continued her activism on behalf of Latino and women's issues, even as her 20-year marriage broke apart. Finally, after a four-year absence from recording, Hinojosa returned in 2000 with Sign of Truth. In 2001 Texas Music Group re-released the classic Taos to Tennessee, and in 2003 the holiday album From Texas for a Christmas Night and a live best-of record were both issued. In 2005 Hinojosa released Heart Wide Open, her first studio album in five years, and the following year Retrospective, on Varese, came out. Another new set, Our Little Planet, appeared in 2009. ~ Steve Huey
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 26, 2009 | Varese Sarabande
Country has always played a significant role in Tish Hinojosa's musical vocabulary, but usually contemporary folk and Latin influences have displayed a stronger influence in her recorded work. But Hinojosa has given her country side more room to move on her 2009 album, Our Little Planet. In the 1990s, Hinojosa spent some time writing for a Nashville publishing house and made some money on the side singing on publishing demos; Hinojosa has gone back to some of her Nashville songs for this set, and while the spare acoustic-based production and arrangements are a far cry from the slick Nash Vegas product that floods country radio these days, the gentle sway of classic country & western obviously informed the melodies of these songs, even on her Spanish-language duet with Carrie Rodriguez, "Mi Pueblo." Hinojosa's lyrics on these songs reflect the emotional warmth that's long been a cornerstone of her work, but her take on the everyday realities of life and love in tunes like "Tomorrow's Gonna Come," "What Our Hearts Can't Say," and "We Mostly Feel That Way" reveals more of a regular-folks tone than her compositions that dig deeper into life's mysteries, though she works just as capably in this framework. One thing that hasn't changed from Hinojosa's previous recordings is her lovely voice, and her hold on this material is graceful but sure, while the backing ensemble (anchored by producer and multi-instrumentalist Marvin Dykhuis and including some fine steel work from Greg Leisz) dovetails sweetly with her vocals. And though this set is far from hard country, Hinojosa more than holds her own on "Count Me In," a duet with honky tonk master Dale Watson. Hinojosa hasn't turned her back on her traditional style so much as she's adjusted the proportions on Our Little Planet, and the finished product is another deeply satisfying album from a truly gifted (and underappreciated) singer/songwriter. ~ Mark Deming
Folk - Released January 1, 2000 | Concord Records
This Texas born and raised songstress has done nothing but grow stronger, both in vision and her ability to express this understanding, by huge strides as the years have passed. She wrote, or co-wrote, all 12 of the songs on this disc. If you aren't familiar with her she sings in both English and Spanish, and her songs express both the duality and the oneness, as well as the peace and love she has found from being raised in both cultures on the border by a strong and loving family. There is something about her songs and manner that have always spoken strongly of a greater truth, and this is most clearly expressed here. Her longtime friend and accompanist Marvin Dykhuis is on all manner of guitars and stringed instruments, as well as an exceedingly solid group of exceptional musicians that echo the intensity of feelings being expressed very ably assist her. There are people such as Chip Dolan on keyboards, David Grissom on guitar, Lloyd Maines on pedal steel, and the wonderful accordion accents of Joel Guzman. This is a disc that speaks of love and growing, the puzzles in life, and somehow taps into the rhythm of the heart. It is a disc that brings comfort with it carried in her voice even when she speaks of love that has vanished. There is a sincerity here that is getting difficult to find. A disc from the heart, that is aptly named. ~ Bob Gottlieb
Folk - Released May 20, 1994 | Reprise
Tish Hinojosa continues to move into the mainstream with Destiny's Gate without losing the magic of Culture Swing. With a beautiful voice reminiscent of Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris, she seems to have perfected her unique blend of Mexican folk and country music. "I Want to See You Again" stands out as one of her finest songs. ~ Chris Woodstra
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