Linda Ronstadt opens up about new film Linda and the Mockingbirds, her Mexican heritage, and USA politics

Linda Ronstadt recently got candid about immigration laws in the US, her proud Mexican heritage and upcoming film Linda and the Mockingbirds which is based on immigration stories and fears, racism, and themes of deportation.
Linda Ronstadt opens up about new film Linda and the MockingbirdsLinda Ronstadt opens up about new film Linda and the Mockingbirds, her Mexican heritage, and USA politics
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Linda Ronstadt may have retired from performing in 2009, but the Grammy-winning singer is still involved in music. The inspiring documentary, Linda and the Mockingbirds chronicles Ronstadt's journey back across the U.S.-Mexico border to Sonora, her grandfather's hometown, for a concert by Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds). The group, founded in 1989 by Eugene Rodriguez, and supported by Ronstadt, performs traditional Mexican dances and songs — like the ones Ronstadt sang on her double-platinum Canciones de mi Padre, which remains the top-selling non-English language album in American record history. 


The hour-long documentary, directed by James Keach, concentrates on how music can be a family project, uniting people with its power, culture, and tradition. Learning the roots of one's heritage, as Ronstadt did, brings understanding, visibility, and pride. In interviews in the film, Ronstadt emphasizes that music carries truth. For anyone who has ever heard her perform, the power of the singer's voice comes through. Linda and the Mockingbirds also addresses immigration stories and fears, racism, and themes of deportation that are very much in the minds of the performers and their families. The singer, who was also the subject of last year's fantastic documentary, "Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice," spoke with Salon about Mexican culture, music, and her new documentary.


See the film’s trailer below:

When asked about different musical genres and breaking tradition, Linda said: “It's important to build on what came before. I learned to sing from my Mexican background. We sang Rancheras, not blues. I wanted to sing that and felt my voice couldn't do it. The Mexican songs were better than the ones I sang in English because they had better melodies. I love singing in Spanish. It was the language of music from when I was little.”


When asked about the pride her music and culture brings to her new film, she said: “Americans don't realize people migrating come from beautiful cultures, and they left because of a drought, or NAFTA, which puts Mexican farmers out of business because of inferior U.S. wheat and corn. Most people who migrate don't want to leave their homes, and then they are treated badly here. They contribute so much. America doesn't realize [Mexicans] pay into the economy and can't draw out of it. They are willing to do low paying jobs and that pushes people to higher-paying jobs.


When asked about politics, Linda said: “One thing is to change immigration laws. Banks are making money from the cartels. Drug laws need to be changed. Get rid of the private prison system; it's like the new slavery with [cheap] labour and separating children and keeping them in inhumane conditions. It's a violation of human rights laws.”


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