Rosie Flores

Posted Thursday, February 15, 2008
By Robert Kreutzer
(Special to The Press-Enterprise)

You can't accuse Rosie Flores of doing the same old thing. The singer-songwriter has had a rich career, from leading a punk/new wave band in the early '80s to being a cutting edge country singer, from making music that landed her in the Rockabilly Hall of FameŽ to authoring a book.

Hardly incapable of making up her mind, Flores said she has always wanted a sound that reflected the variety of music she loved growing up.

"I am in so many categories," said the singer, talking on telephone from her home in Austin, Texas. "People hear Rosie Flores and hear '60s rock, country, rockabilly, blues. I throw them all in the mix, plus myself with my limitations and specialties, and it has become what I do."

"People hear Rosie Flores and hear '60s rock, country, rockabilly, blues," Rosie Flores says.

Born in San Antonio, Rosie and her family moved to San Diego when she was 8. Exposed already to a rich variety of music in Texas, Rosie grew up with other styles such as surf rock and the British Invasion, putting them all into her singing and guitar style.

Flores would later lead Rosie and the Screamers, a band at the forefront of Los Angeles' cowpunk scene. Cowpunk -- a combination of punk and country -- would be a precursor to alternative country, a wide-ranging subgenre which many credit Flores with helping to create.

By the mid-1980s, Flores switched to straight-up, traditional country. She was signed to Warner Bros. Records. Her self-titled debut was well-received by critics and Flores was the first Hispanic woman to score a single on Billboard's Country Singles Chart with "Crying Over You." Still, the album didn't sell what the label expected, and Flores was quickly dropped.

"I felt my music would have been great for radio," recalled Flores without apparent bitterness. "They have the power and tools to make an artist a huge star. There were several things going against me. I was a Hispanic woman who came from a punk and rockabilly background but had a Patsy Cline style. I don't think they respected my vision."

Flores weathered ups and downs in Nashville for years. Along the way she recorded music that was loved by critics and landed her in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Eventually Flores moved back to Austin -- her third move there -- and its musical hotbed, where country, blues, punk and so many other styles freely mingle.

"When I left Nashville, I felt very brittle," said Flores. "Quite a lot of people were unfriendly. When I came back to Austin, strangers were so sweet. I had instant friends and the mayor declared Rosie Flores Day. I felt so welcome and I felt very accepted here."

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