Alynda Lee Segarra: "I gotta claim this, this is who I am"
Hurray for the Riff Raff’s new album, The Navigator, will be released next March 10th. And as her bandleader Alynda Lee Segarra explains to The Guardian, her goal to reconnect with the roots of her Puerto Rican heritage.
After a decade in New Orleans, Segarra lives in New York again for now. Landing back in New York, where she was raised, had brought her search for the Puerto Rican heritage she rejected as a teenager full circle. “I’ve been really trying to examine how I inherited the shame that I did,” she says.
In the spirit of Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, The Navigator is a rousing call for community, written when Segarra found herself without one. Aged 17, she ran away to hop trains, and spent three years exploring America’s fringes.
During 10 years Segarra lived in New Orleans, and after she moved to Nashville. “Even though I’d travelled, I was still sheltered from the idea that it’s conservative, Christian, white America,” she says. “I’d had harder times – I lived on the street. And yet being away from community, belonging, that’s what really hit me hardest. I felt like I was in middle school.” Back then, Segarra was “too white” for the Puerto Rican kids. “But when I was in Nashville I was like, ‘I gotta claim this, this is who I am.’”
Back in NY, Segarra tries to reconnect with her roots. Her parents split when she was two. Her mother, Ninfa Segarra, was the last president of the New York City board of education and became Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor in 1993. “Motherhood was really just not on the menu,” says Segarra. “It’s not like Puerto Rican women haven’t always been independent, but it was a really new thing for my mother to have this really big career.”
Read the full article in The Guardian.