The Bronx is famous for being the birthplace of hip-hop.
Soon, it might also be known for giving birth to Alynda Lee Segarra, a rising star in roots music, a form usually associated with the south.
Segarra and her band Hurray for the Riff Raff’s latest album, “Small Town Heroes,” puts a modern feminist twist on acoustic blues- and country-influenced songs.
amNewYork spoke with Segarra, who now lives in New Orleans.
What initially drew you to roots music?
I was drawn to the grittiness of the recording quality, the raw ability to express a complex emotion with what appears on the surface [as] simple lyrics and melody.
How did growing up in the Bronx influence you?
The Bronx has the heart of real New York. It’s unpretentious. The people wear sweatpants and work hard, have their children they care about, and talk to each other at the neighborhood bar. I’m proud to be from there.
Why did you leave NYC?
I left New York because I didn’t see my future panning out there. To be honest, I knew I couldn’t afford the lifestyle. New York doesn’t seem to be “for” New Yorkers anymore.
Your song “The Body Electric,” is a feminist take on the traditional murder ballad. What inspired it?
First off, I’d like to say, I have known young women who have been murdered. Their lives were cut short. It was devastating. Secondly, I am a news junkie. I was reading about a number of sexual assaults among teenagers in the U.S. that got a lot of attention because there was videotaped footage or pictures on the Internet. ? It disturbed me on a soul level.