With the post-O Brother, Where Art Thou? brouhaha about "roots music," it's a wonder Tish Hinojosa isn't better known. But then, Hinojosa has such an eclectic and professional approach that it's hard for both squares and hepcats to latch onto her.
Born in 1955 to immigrant parents in San Antonio, Hinojosa was influenced by the Mexican ballads and conjunto dance music of her parents' generation, the "new" folk of Joan Baez, '60s rock and pop, and Texas honky-tonk country. Furthermore, her dignified, melodious, Nanci Griffith/Emmylou Harris voice and refined (though certainly not bland) musical approach are hardly the stuff to draw hipsters seeking a rough-hewn "authenticity." Though most of her oeuvre is sung in English, she's released albums in Spanish (the ebullient Tex-Mex set Frontejas), a bilingual children's record, a Christmas album, and the weaves-it-all-together classic Culture Swing.
Hinojosa was on a major label in the mid-'90s, but how do you "market" someone who refuses to limit herself? There's a new album, A Heart Wide Open, her first volume of new songs in five years. Like Culture Swing, it's a diverse delight -- it anges from the jangle-pop of "Whatever Happened to Everyone Wanting to Care" to the idyllic "Finding Paris" to the western fantasy "Shotgun Ridin'." With her uncontrived warmth, a Tish Hinjosa performance is a tonic, like Gatorade for the spirit.