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Gratitude just hits different in 2021. So it makes sense that tequila maker Patron is focusing its “Simple Yet Perfect” campaign around a classic song that’s about giving thanks to life and love. The song, “Gracias A La Vida,” will be the center of Patron’s new TV and digital ad spots, with a stripped-down acappella rendition performed by singer-songwriters Jessie Reyez, Amber Mark and Fousheé, with production by Grammy Award-winner Andres Levin.
The song, which opens with the lyric, “Thank you for the life that has given me so much,” feels particularly fitting for the post-lockdown era, according to Reyez. “There are so many things that we took for granted before the pandemic,” she says. “We took for granted being able to hug family members. Now, as things start to get better, you find yourself saying that more often, ‘Gracias a Dios, gracias por esos momentos.’”
The song was originally released in 1966 by Chilean artist Violetta Parra, and is a beloved classic in Latin America. It has been continually recorded for decades by artists such as Joan Baez, Mercedes Sosa, Placido Domingo and even Kacey Musgraves.
“It’s an honor to be able to bring to life a song that was written by a female composer,” Reyez tells Rolling Stone, noting that she was given a role in helping choose the other two singers for the project. “I made a conscious effort to choose women of color who are talented artists I respect,” she shares. “It was great that I was sharing my platform.”
Reyez, who released her first album right at the start of the pandemic in 2020, is currently at work on her second album, which she hopes will drop early next year. The project with Patron allows her to give her fans a taste of new music, she says, while she polishes up her new work.
Given that she is known for her autobiographical style and vulnerable lyrics, how has the “Figures” songwriter processed the turmoil of the past two years into new work? “I’d be lying if I said [the pandemic] shifted my approach,” Reyez says. “My whole life, I tend to sing sad songs. I’ve always been motivated by uphill inspiration, heartbreak and sadness. When I’m happy, I keep those emotions to myself.”
Reyez is philosophical about the downbeat mood of the past year. “All this melancholy that was in the air, this excess of negativity on screens. If anything, it’s amplified the process I had before of turning sadness into art,” she admits. “You can’t have daylight without night. It’s making the moments you get to hug families a lot more tender.”
Reyez’s musical style sits at an inflection point of multiple genres, blending soulful lyrics with production styles that borrow from pop, folk and country, among others. Even as she tinkers with her new work, Reyez describes herself as a “musical mutt,” taking inspiration from cumbia, reggae, glam rock and soul. “My tastes vary so much. Moving forward but also moving backward,” she says.
“I’m excited for ‘Gracias a la Vida’ to be a precursor to what’s coming next, because I’m working on my sophomore album,” Reyez says. “It’s blood, sweat and tears. I’m nervous, anxious and excited. Gracias a Dios, gracias a la vida for this opportunity.