African American Studies
Interviewee: Caridad de la Luz, a.k.a. La Bruja
Interviewer: Oneka LaBennet
Date of Interview: October 23, 2007
Summarized by Alice Stryker
La Luz’s parents came from Puerto Rico and lived in New York city, where they met. She was born in the Bronx in 1973 and has lived in the Bronx her entire life. She spent most of her childhood living on Leland Avenue, which was racially mixed. Her father was a mechanic for Volkswagen and her mother was a teacher at Murry Bertgraum High School. She went to P.S. 100 for grade school and P.S. 71 for Junior High School. As a child she was always involved in the arts, whether it was through piano lessons, Ballet class, or participating in a children’s theater group. Additionally, music played a predominant role in her house. She listened to a lot of Motown.
She learned most of what she knows about poetry from her great grandmother, who was a poet writing in Spanish. She would recite the poems to la Luz, and then la Luz would memorize and recite them at “open mic nights” in her living room with her family as the audience. Many of the poems that she is known for were inspired by her great grandmother, the house they lived in, and the Latino experience in general in the Bronx. Her name, La Bruja, came from a Celina Gonzalez song. She was vey inspired by Celina Gonzalez’s music, which had a lot of Santeria elements to it and included a lot of songs about St. Caridad, the patron Saint of Cuba.
Her parents were very free spirited and encouraged her to do what made her happy, even if that meant an unconventional career. Her parents both had powers as mediums, so also encouraged her endeavors in the spiritual world. She first began as a poet and then at 14, she started rapping. She listened to Madonna, Salt-n-peppa, and Nas. She and the interviewers talk about the place of sexuality in her songs and how she believes less is more.
She says that the Bronx was a very nice place to grow up in. She experienced very little ethnic tension. The first time she ever experienced racism, was when she left for college. La Bruja discusses how “Brujalicious” was made and the collaborations on the album. To make this album the way she wanted to, she started her own studio. Although it was a difficult process, she says it was ultimately beneficial for a number of reasons.
She says that being from the Bronx has formed her character just as much as being Puerto Rican has. As she describes it, the Bronx has an energy that really inspires her as well as other artists. However, it is becoming more gentrified, which she feels is taking away some of its energy. Frequently she used the characters of the “scary” Bronx as her inspiration, like the beggar or the crack addict. Many of these characters show up in her one woman show.
At the time the interview took place, she was working on “For Witch it stands.”
De La Luz, Caridad. October 23, 2007. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.De La Luz, Caridad.mp3 (104744 kB)