By Robin Ewing
Suzy Garcia went to school to learn how to be a rock star. Now the 27-year-old from San Antonio sings in the rock band Suzy Bravo. On stage, she sings, shouts and swings the microphone, full of energy as she paces up and down the stage. Her long, thick dark hair is sometimes dyed cherry red; her jeans are tight and low; and when she’s not singing, she’s smiling.
Suzy’s voice is low, strong and melodic and she calls her style “soul punk blues.” You wouldn’t know that in elementary school her singing was so bad her teacher forced her to lip synch in the Christmas show. Or that she played air guitar to Prince’s “Purple Rain”. Or that she was shy.
Suzy grew up on the west and south side of San Antonio. After high-school she took all of her savings, 300 dollars, and bought a bus ticket from San Antonio to Los Angeles. “I didn’t want to end up doing nothing,” she says, her silver earrings flashing as she talks, a black Kiss wristband on one hand. In L.A., she enrolled in a school for musicians — the first song she ever wrote was for the audition tape — but later quit. “I had to find my own voice,” she says. “It’s amazing how you have to D.I.Y. your life.”
She didn’t start singing with Suzy Bravo (the band named themselves after her) until she moved back to San Antonio. First, she worked in a record store where she taped up fliers looking for a band to sing with. Her first performance was with a south-side band doing heavy metal cover songs, but she knew that wasn’t her style. “I wanted to do my own stuff,” she says. And now she does. Last year Suzy Bravo opened for Motorhead at the Verizon amphitheater to over 1,000 people.
Even though Suzy Bravo is loud and fast, Suzy loves the old stuff – “the stuff your mom and grandma raised you on. Like Fats Domino,” she says. And you can hear their influence in her voice. “But I wanted a new kind of music. The classics with a new edge.” She loves P.J. Harvey and the 70’s punk rocker Patti Smith “because she could wail and be a poet. It’s hard to put your rock-n-roll voice with your poet voice,” she says.
Suzy is also making a reputation as a booking agent in San Antonio. It all started because she was tired of all her favorite bands not coming to San Antonio to play. So she called them. “I winged it,” she says. She called a big California band, The Bell Rays, and asked them if they would come to San Antonio — and they did. “I just acted like I knew what I was doing,” she says. On her own, she learned how to write a band contract, how to rent and hook up a P.A system, how to find places for the bands to play, and how to advertise. Now the bands call her.
But Suzy isn’t stopping with music. “Ten years from now I don’t want to say this is all I know,” she says. “When I was a little girl I made a list of all the things I wanted to be, so now I am doing them.” She enrolled in college mechanic classes. Only one of two girls in her class, Suzy says it doesn’t intimidate her. “Don’t ever let anyone else make you feel inferior.”
Suzy doesn’t make excuses for herself. It is easy to see that she enjoys her life – even the hard parts – and relies on her own courage and determination to get what she wants. Most of the women in her family had children as young teenagers, and she has watched her sister and her cousin have to grow-up young, sparking her determination for independence. But even though it hasn’t all been easy, Suzy has immense respect for others and always speaks with kindness.
Her advice to Latinitas: “Search for the answers by yourself. Don’t let someone else’s perspective be your perspective. Just focus on a little bit at a time.”