“Santa’s On His Way,” the swinging jingle jam that runs Patricia Vonne’s new release, “My Favorite Holiday,” gushed out of gratitude.
It was Christmas 2020. For months, the world was “in the dilemma of COVID, lockdown, complete shutdown,” said Vonne.
Shops have closed and thousands of people have been unemployed. Food banks in central Texas saw unprecedented demand. Shocked by news coverage of “thousands and thousands of cars in line just to bring food to the table” in her hometown of San Antonio, Vonne had streamed weekly to help the city’s grocery bank. As the vacation passed, she was overwhelmed by the joy of the generosity of her audience. In response, she composed the bilingual ode to hope and joy that brings back warm memories of the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” with her family at the Paramount Theater in Austin.
Merry and bright or bitter Christmas? A round up of Austin holiday concerts for everyone
At the beginning of the new year, she sent her friend Scott Plunkett, who plays guitar with rock and roll crooner Chris Isaak, an a cappella version of the song. She asked him to lay piano and vocal lines. She thought it might be a fun single.
“When he sent it back, it sounded like a big band orchestra,” she said. Her heart exploded. She felt called to do more. Over a seven month period of spring and summer as the world turned COVID-19 restrictions on and off, their seasonal celebration came together in what Vonne calls a series of small miracles.
“The entire album was really divine inspiration,” she said. Her frequent collaborator, Rosie Flores, helped her write the rockabilly Christmas rush “Santa’s on a Rampage”. The Panamanian actor and musician Rubén Blades, whom she considers a hero, took the time to record the duet “Las Posadas”. Despite separations due to the pandemic, agreements were reached without any problems. She felt guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the process.
“It was like baby Jesus saying, ‘Don’t worry. Do it for me. I choose your band. I will help you write the songs. Don’t worry, ‘”she said.
More:The Rolling Stones live up to their legendary reputation with a red-hot Austin concert
‘The Mexican von Trapp band’
The songs on “My Favorite Holiday” are all originals with one notable exception: Vonne’s four sisters went to four different studios in three different states to record harmonizing parts for a classic version of “Carol of the Bells”. Their voices are woven into a playful a cappella that is reminiscent of the family singalongs that shaped Vonne’s childhood.
Vonne grew up in a large family. In addition to her sisters, she has five brothers.
“There was always music in the house,” she says. Frequent visits from mariachi bands would prove influential. Growing up with the beauty and drama of Mexican music inspired Vonne to make all of her albums bilingual. Her brother, the filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, called his first film “El Mariachi”.
Her mother loved the movie “The Sound of Music” and “was like our quintessence Maria von Trapp,” said Vonne.
Rebecca Rodriguez came from a broken family. “She was an orphan,” said Vonne.
Rebecca Rodriguez had an unstable family life and didn’t start school until third grade, but she managed to catch up with her peers. She was studying nursing at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and was postulant about to become a nun when a friend arranged her on a blind date with Cecilio Rodriguez. On their third date, he suggested.
“My father said he would propose marriage on the first date, but he didn’t mean to scare her,” Vonne said.
As her family grew, Rebecca Rodriguez began to emulate her beloved vacation movie. She made suitable outfits for the children and taught them their favorite songs.
When visitors came over on vacation, Vonne said the children would come down the stairs, clutching candy canes, and singing.
“We were like the Mexican von Trapp band,” she said.
Song premiere:Akina Adderley wants to inspire with soulful single “Home Before Dark”
Believe over fear
Vonne’s parents instilled a strong Christian faith in her which she relied on in creating the album.
“Now is the time to share / With those who don’t have it / Laugh, spread joy and love / With compassionate hearts”, Vonne sings on “Christ Child” and underlines the true spirit of Christmas as selfless love. “Noche Buena” paints the picture of a Christmas Eve that shimmers with anticipation for “el tesoro del cielo”, the treasure of heaven. And “Las Posadas”, the duet with Blades, reminds us that the nativity story is essentially a refugee story.
“Las Posadas” means “the inns” and is a celebration of the birth of Christ that is celebrated throughout Latin America.
“(It’s) nine days to party for the nine nights they tried to find a place,” Vonne said. “They went to 50 places in biblical history.”
Children re-enact the journey of Joseph and Mary in a procession from “inn” to “inn”. In songs they ask about rooms in the inns, only to be turned away again and again. When the children finally reach the crib where Mary can give birth, they crack a piñata and celebrate with candy and punch.
“It’s kind of fun because I’m a real estate agent. And it feels like Las Posadas all the time with these Mexican families who can’t find a home just to rent, ”she said.
According to Vonne, when she’s looking for a home for families with babies, Vonne often includes photos of the toddlers in applications to appeal to the landlord’s heart.
“And sometimes they stamp them off because they’re Mexican and they feel like they probably can’t pay rent,” she said. “You know, it’s discrimination. So I mean, I think, ‘Wow, this is Las Posadas.’ I have a feeling it’s Las Posadas. We’re trying to find a place. “
Like many of the songs on the album, Vonne believes “Las Posadas” was easy to write because it pays homage to her parents’ teachings.
“The lyrics like ‘Noche Buena, Christmas Eve’ are lines my mother would teach me,” she said.
The songs on the album, even the rock songs, underline one of Vonne’s guiding principles: “Believe in fear”, which she thinks is more important than ever in this day and age. Regardless of which god you worship, Vonne believes that faith will become an essential anchor to weather difficult days.
“At the moment we are still living in the darkest time. And it’s so shocking to me that in America no child should go hungry and no adult should choose between utilities and a meal. It’s just not right, ”she said.
With her heart full of faith, she made this album. “I wanted people to know, that’s what I believe. I was taught that, ”she said.
“He came to this earth to give us salvation and to alleviate pain and suffering. If we only believe. ”
‘My Favorite Vacation’ release show
When: November 27th at 7pm.
Cost: $ 10.