Vermont Songstress Marcie Hernandez Dazzles On Bilingual Debut LP ‘Amanecer’ (INTERVIEW)

Vermonter Marcie Hernandez croons with confident phrasing and a depth of emotion on her debut record Amanecer: a fitting title as “amanecer” is Spanish for sunrise. Now is the dawn of Hernandez’s career as a recording artist and her debut record was conceived in a selection of mature, thoughtful, diverse, beautiful songs.

An album that took nearly three years to finish and was worth the wait, “Amanecer” is a collection of seven songs that navigates cross-genres and bilingual songwriting with a soothing tone, honest and forthright lyrical wit, and aurally pleasing instrumentation. As most of us know, good things often need time and space to grow and become fully formed and “Amanecer” is no exception to that sentiment.

Track two, ‘Winter’ is one highlight on the seven-song record as Hernandez falls evenly into indie rock form. Here she cuts through a steady pocket of bass and drums with beachy guitar tones and strings pushing the song down a winding path of psychedelic rock. Steady, void of caution, powerful, Hernandez has a refreshing sense of self as she speaks her truth in song. 

Today Glide is proud to premiere (below) the video for “Light a Torch,” a sultry and groovy song blending Spanish and English lyrics with a sentiment worth our attention. Hernandez sings, “Give me your tired, give me your poor, when you’re lost in the dark I’ll light a torch. Now can somebody tell me what do they still stand for? “ 

A powerful question coming from a bicultural artist raised by Puerto Rican parents. We live in a country supposedly built on the idea of refuge, how can so much ignorance and injustice reign? So much exclusion and entitlement. Can we be better? We must. 


Glide caught up recently with Hernandez about her new record, her creative process, and her experience as a bicultural artist. 

Tell us about your new record Amanecer and what was the recording process like? 

I recorded Amanecer at Dan Davine’s studio in Essex, VT. This was my first experience recording a full album and we recorded to tape. I was really glad to have the opportunity to record to tape. The recording process took a while for a lot of different reasons. Originally when I talked to Dan about recording I was thinking I would do three or four songs and release an EP. As we were recording I was writing more songs and soon it started to feel more like this could be a full-length album. Dan and I co-produced the album and collaborated on arrangements for each song.

I had a lot of flexibility with the timing of this record. Sometimes not having a deadline can work against you, as projects might drag on and on. In this case, it worked to our advantage. We were able to think a bit more deeply about arrangements for the songs and work more easily with other musicians’ schedules. All in all the record took about three years to record – which is a long time – but I’m really happy with the final product and to me, that is the most important thing.

Tell me about your songwriting process 

My process is often driven by melody. I find that I come up with melodies when I’m moving; walking, driving, running. There is something about being in a relaxed, more meditative state that seems to open up musical ideas for me. Once I have a melody in my head that I like, I’ll try to document it quickly so I don’t forget it; usually in a voice memo. I often will improvise lyrics as well in the beginning; sometimes they don’t make any sense but it’s more about the sounds of the words that seem to fit the melodic shape. If I like the sound and feel of a certain lyric then I can write the entire song based on whatever those words might be. Sometimes a whole song is born out of one word or a short phrase.

I use the acoustic guitar as my main accompanying instrument right now so many of my songs tend to have a folk-like feel to them at the beginning of the process. I also write primarily from what I know, my own experiences, and there is a certain vulnerability that is often present in the lyrics. 

The lyrics stem from my truth, my experiences. My natural tendency is to take a situation from my own life and write about it. All of the details might not be completely auto-biographical, but usually, the main themes are connected to my own experiences as a human. This kind of autobiographical writing style is something I equate with folk music. The art of telling a story through song. Some of the first songs I started to play on guitar were by Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Band, and those influences still carry through in my music. 

That being said, I’m also heavily influenced by Spanish composers like Mexican singer-songwriter, Natalia LaFourcade & the Puerto Rican band, Fiel A La Vega. The Latin music I listen to often has much more syncopation and rhythm in the way the guitar is strummed, and I love finding ways to incorporate that into my music.  There is a fire and a spirit in Latin music that I like to evoke in my music as well because this is also an important part of me as a person. A song like “Light A Torch” is a great example where I could’ve easily written that song without incorporating the Latin rhythms/instrumentation in the chorus, but I knew I wanted some of that feel in the song, and so I was strategic about where to place that sound & feel when we were arranging the song in the studio. 

It’s important to me to incorporate these different musical styles in my music because it is reflective of the different parts of who I am as a person in the world. I see my music as an extension of who I am, which I get to share with others; an important part of who I am and my experience in this world is that I am bicultural and I’ve needed to learn how to hold space in my life for these 2 different cultural identities –  American and Latina/Puerto Rican. I feel that musically, it gives me so much more that I can work with too; it really opens up the color palate.  

When did you start writing songs? Do you remember what sparked your interest initially? 

I started writing songs in my early 20’s. Before that, I wrote a lot of poetry. I also journaled a lot when I was a teenager and continue to do so. What seemed to spark my interest was when I started going to open mic nights in my early 20s with friends who were musicians and songwriters. I grew up singing and identified as a singer primarily. Throughout high school and college, I studied voice and took lessons from classically trained singers, though I never really felt connected to that genre of music. After college, I moved to Charlotte, NC. I didn’t know anybody except for my uncle, who I stayed with initially for a few months. I slowly started making friends with local artists and musicians. I started going to a lot of open mics and shows that my friends would put on. I felt inspired by watching them. I had this feeling of “I could do that too.”  I started taking guitar lessons and that began the process of writing my own songs. At first, of course, most of the songs I wrote weren’t that great. I guess it’s all subjective, but in my opinion, they weren’t that great. Yet still, I kept at it because it was fun and very therapeutic.

Where did the inspiration for “Light a Torch” come from? What is the song about?

The song is about hope and perseverance. For me, it’s about being proud of my cultural roots and sharing that with others, not in a way that excludes them, but rather can include them. It’s about sharing your light with others. It’s about compassion. 

I wrote this song soon after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017. It was a very strange experience to be so far away from my family on the island and to be seeing headlines about what was happening there. There was a feeling of helplessness. There were news stories about the natural disaster itself but also stories about the political disputes happening between the Puerto Rican government and the US government. Lots of stories about people not getting the aid they needed. I also read stories around the perception of Puerto Ricans, and how many people in the U.S. didn’t know Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens until Maria happened. 

At this time a vision of the Statue of Liberty came to me and I started to think about what this monument symbolizes. Historically she has been a sign of hope and new beginnings as she is holding a torch to shed light on the path for others. She’s a sign of welcoming and an important symbol to immigrants who entered through Ellis Island. She has a plaque that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” And I remember thinking, “Man, how did we get so far away from that?”  So I had all of these thoughts bubbling around: the Statue of Liberty, the historically complex relationship between Puerto Rico and the US, my own bi-cultural experience, Puerto Ricans not receiving the aide they needed during one of the worst natural disasters to hit the Caribbean in years….and from all of these things, the song came out. 

How does your cultural heritage help define you as an artist? 

My cultural heritage helps define me as an artist because it opens doors for me musically that I may not have gone through if I was of another culture.  That being said, my cultural heritage doesn’t completely encompass my sound as a songwriter and a musician. Just because a song is in Spanish doesn’t mean it’s automatically a “Latin song”; it could be a pop song or a folk song, just in a different language. Being Puerto Rican, though, has exposed me to different sounds and influences that inevitably influence my music. It adds another ingredient to the mix that I can play around with.

Photo by Luke Awtry


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