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Meet Judith D’Rivera in Torrance and New York

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judith D’Rivera.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Judith. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My story, (yikes), it’s nerve-wrecking to actually put it into writing. I feel that at 31 years I have accumulated many stories that make up who I am today. But, for the purpose of this interview, I’d like to introduce Judith, the songwriter. I grew in Torrance, California. My parents immigrated to the United States to escape the civil war that took place in the 80’s in El Salvador. I started to sing at 7 years old when I found my father’s mariachi tapes. I fell in love with music and those strong vocals. Throughout my life, I joined many musical extracurricular activities like church worship teams, school choirs and I taught myself how to play guitar at 16. I then began to express myself through original songs. Later pursued a degree in music from Nyack College in New York City under the tutelage of Sharmi Harper and had the opportunity to sing at the Lincoln Center. Music has always been part of my life. For the past 12 years, I’ve worked in many settings that have allowed me to share my music and also empower younger generations to either pursue music and education. Although, I live in New York City, I travel to Los Angeles often to be with my family and for events. I consider myself living a bicoastal life. I sometimes fly for a day, do a red eye flight, and go to work and then church all within 36 hours. I think that once you’ve reach the highest level of exhaustion, (which is the first three months after giving birth), YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! Did I mention, I’m a mom? Yes, I have a three year old son and I want him to be family-oriented like me. There are many sacrifices that come with flying back and forth, however I know it’s worth watching my son grow and have healthy relationships with both sets of grandparents, cousins and tias.

Has it been a smooth road?
It was heartbreaking to leave Los Angeles not knowing when I would be back in 2012. The hardest part was leaving my grandfather behind as he was fighting stage 4 gastric cancer. I took on the responsibility to take him to all of his treatments. I had even quit my job to take care of him. I remember telling him, “Abuelito, if you don’t want me to leave you, I won’t get marry and I’ll stay with you to help care for you.” His reply was, “I’ve lived my life, I want to live long enough to see you get married, I’ll be fine.” I lived in a very conservative and traditional household. I did not leave my home until marriage and I wanted to honor my parents with that part of my life. I married Matthew, the love of my life that is another story and a good one too. My grandpa had just finished a chemo session and attended my wedding. Seeing me happy was part of his happiness. Months after the big move, I couldn’t afford to travel back to see my family. Every phone call I’d get about my grandpa was bad news. His cancer wouldn’t go away! I worried I never get to see him or hug him again. My grandpa and I had a special bond. I grew up with all my grandparents. Some people tell me that’s a blessing and that I’m lucky. I do feel that way, but it’s also tough watching them suffer through illnesses and seeing them change as they get older.

Later, that year I was able to travel and see my family. I traveled every month for about two years to be with my family, especially my Abuelito. I would hug him as if it was the last time I would see him each time. Abuelo beat cancer for 4 years after his diagnosis. The last time I saw my Abuelito was February 19, 2016. I had an infant and I had not travel to LA for 7 months. I decided to go on my own on February because my baby was still too young to travel and I didn’t want to risk it. I was also breastfeeding at the time and I couldn’t be away from my baby for too long. Well that day I made the best of it. I spent every minute with him. I remember I just left for an hour to get a haircut. I had chopped off my dyed hair and kept my black natural color. When my Abuelo saw me, he smiled and said, “Asi es que te miras bonita, con el pelo negrito.” (You look pretty with your natural black hair). I didn’t realize that the last time he would see me would be the natural me.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Judith’s Music didn’t really exist. I had given up the goal of recording my music and sharing it with the world. I wanted to empower young people with their music goals and use music as a therapeutic tool at work. However, this all changed when my Abuelito passed away on March 19, exactly a month after I have seen him. I was about to enter a sweet 16 when I got the call. I broke down in the parking lot. I knew I could not fly right away to see my family. So for a few hours I was able to just not think about the news. On our way back home, I put on my mariachi music. My grandpa loved it when I sang mariachi music. My grieving process had begun.

During my grief, I would stay up late almost every night. On one occasion I took my guitar and song book out. I began to go over songs that I’ve written in the past years. Every song began to speak to my heart and new lyrics were added to incomplete songs. My music was reborn. If these songs were healing me during my grief, I knew they would help others in their grief. I contacted my producer friend to help me with this project. I began a campaign to fund this project and it was fully funded within a month. We recorded the album in Los Angeles. The project was completed March 19, 2017, exactly a year after my Abuelito’s passing. My producer had no idea what this date meant, it went from being a sad day to a victorious one.

I titled the Spanish EP Nostalgia. The album starts with a heartbreak song, “Ahora que no estas” which has become a favorite to many. This song describes the spiritual and physical nostalgia we feel when we have experience some type of loss. My second release is Love & Longing EP, which is a collection of songs of love, faith and community. “Forever in my Heart” is dedicated to all the adolescents I’ve worked with for the past 12 years.

Judith’s Music is not just about my experience as a songwriter. Judith’s Music is service and displaying love & positivity to humanity. For the past 4 years, I’ve worked with young people ages 10-21 using music as a healing tool. These adolescents have been diagnosed with different types of psychological disorders and have developmental delays. I enjoy working with music and seeing them empowered as they performed on our talent night events.

This year I established SHE IS MUSIC Network. She is Music is a platform that provides independent female musicians and artists opportunities for growth such as writing workshops, open mics and performance opportunities. I believe in supporting other women, I always say “Artists support artists, musicians support musicians and of course women support other women,” I live by this. There is no competition in my heart of mind. We all have something special, our own story to share with the world. There is enough light for everyone to shine. And, if I learn about something I know that can help someone, I share it. This is probably what makes me stand out. I love supporting other women, especially musicians. I don’t seek anything in return. I am that person that genuinely helps because I know how it is not getting support or resources without a price. She is Music is a community of artists growing together, sharing experiences and support.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a great city for artists. There is an endless amount of open mics and venues for artists. My friend JC Villafan is one of the hosts of Los Angeles Songwriters and this is a great way to work on your craft and get help. You can also find WomenCrushLA, which is a non-profit to help women songwriters at the beginning of their careers with workshops and performing opportunities. If you are just starting out as a songwriter, you definitely need to check them out or check back with me on SHE IS MUSIC network! I’ll point you to the right direction.

Pricing:

  • $5.94- Nostalgia EP
  • $4.95- Love & Longing EP

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Fervent Creative (album covers), Roy Castro (with grandparents), Jasmine Munoz (My son and I), Abel Membreno Photography (Church Photo), We All Grow Latina Network (Girls Support Girls Shirt), Carmen King (at a Girls Conference), Taken by Jocelyn (My husband and I)

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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