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Lincka balances Mexican heritage with American pop artistry

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Lincka Elizondo poses for a photo in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 18, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Lincka Elizondo poses for a photo in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 18, 2016.

Lincka Elizondo, known onstage simply as Lincka, messaged everyone she could when she heard she won a 2016 “Best Latin” Woody Award during the Gazette Music Awards in early April.

This voting category was introduced in 2016, making Lincka, a second-year student at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO), the first artist honored.

As amazing as taking home the Woody was, looking down the list to see guitarist Edgar Cruz among the names she beat out was even more awesome.

“I grew up listening to that guy,” she said. “I would go to his shows, and it would be so amazing.”

Lincka’s parents were both born in Mexico, but they had her in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas. Her bilingual pop rock is melds traditional Mexican and contemporary American influences. Like the sons and daughters of many migrant families, Lincka struggles to balance two worlds while pursuing opportunities her parents uprooted their lives for.

No Shoes

Lincka released her No Shoes EP in October. The three-song effort, produced by frequent collaborator Rat Fink, is a sufficient way for fans to whet their palates before the artist puts out her first full-length album later this year.

There’s no Julio Iglesias crooning to be found here. Instead, the EP sounds like something that could not only fit in with English radio but deserves to be on the airwaves.

The title track is a good example of the way Lincka tiptoes the line between playfulness and contemplation. The frequently barefoot Lincka explained that “No Shoes” has a dual meaning.

She came up for the idea for the song’s melody while working at her dad’s business. In the middle of the day, she was going to take off for lunch, but her shoes were uncomfortable and bothering her. She took them off and ran across the street to a nearby taqueria. Suddenly, the song in her head had a name.

Lincka grew up Catholic but always had questions about the faith. “No Shoes” also alludes to a time during her confirmation at age 11.

“I turned to the cross, and it was just too much,” she said. “I kind of grew into my own and rather than going through the motions, I looked around and I was like, ‘What am I even doing?’”

She took off her heels and dramatically ran out of the service and back home just a block away.

Her debut EP was recorded in Rat Fink’s house, but her follow-up album is being recorded in ACM@UCO’s second floor studio. She’s planning to release her first single from that album, “Another Land,” in the near future before she puts out the complete project at summer’s end.

“It’s going to be bigger and better,” she said. “I’m still keeping that feel of the first EP, the weird harmonies and little quirky things that we would do, but it’s just a lot more versatile than the first EP, for sure.”

Fulfilling destiny

Maria Elizondo was walking with her daughter, a 2-year-old Lincka, in the grocery store as a strange man stared. The man creeped her out, but she tried to ignore him. Then, suddenly, the man approached Lincka and grabbed her cheeks.

“This little girl is going to be famous,” he said.

They never saw him again.

For now, national fame is still a faraway prospect, but music and performance has always been a natural fit for Lincka.

Growing up, she remembers her father, Jesus Elizondo, coming home from work and grabbing his classical guitar as her mother made dinner, singing the play-by-play as she cut the vegetables or stirred the pot.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Lincka said. “It was always normal for me to have a dad that has always played guitar.”

During her days at Edmond Santa Fe High School, Lincka envisioned herself doing plays in musical theater, not as a solo performing artist.

“When I was onstage, I was like, ‘This is it,’” she said.

Lincka has come across several passions in her life, giving whatever she has picked up at the time her full attention. Currently, writing her own songs and playing her own gigs occupies her time, but she also said it’s possible her solo music career could lead to other opportunities in the future.

“I have so many passions, and right now, I just happen to be focusing on this one, which is trying to make a name of myself through music,” she said.

Speaking up

In today’s social and political environment, with talks of border walls and mass deportations, Lincka can’t keep her thoughts to herself. When there’s something big going on in the world, she has to write about it.

“Although I am Mexican-American, it still bothers me as much as if I was fully Mexican,” she said.

These issues will be addressed on her new album. Lincka hopes to be the kind of artist people look to when something major happens. What good is having a platform or a voice when the message is meaningless? It’s also a way for her to cope with the problems of the world.

Lincka has spent all her life in the United States, which is why many of her songs are Americanized. Still, while she spoke English at school, at home, it was always Spanish. A change in environment didn’t rob her of her heritage.

The same Latin passion and emotion buried in every kitchen serenade from her father can be found mixed among Lincka’s Norah Jones-esque vocals.

“Those little things really did influence me, and [I’m] trying to incorporate that into the style that I do have,” she said. “It’s kind of flip-flopped, but I do feel like it’s more indie pop rock. I don’t know what it is. It’s kind of everywhere.”

Print headline: Missing Lincka, The 2016 Best Latin Woody Award winner balances Mexican heritage with an American upbringing.

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