cecilia villar eljuri
The Rock & World of Eljuri
Born in Guayaquil Ecuador and raised in New York City, Cecilia Villar Eljuri is a compulsive genre-fuser writing songs that mirror the experiences of her life. Touted as one of the top Latina guitar players in the world, she blends the sounds and rhythms she heard from her mother’s piano, her father’s vinyl records, her siblings’ CDs and from the clubs she frequented on Manhattan’s lower east side.
Managed by Alexandra Gatje from the independent label Manovill Records and backed up by a rotating lineup of seasoned musicians from the US and Mexico, Eljuri released her first solo album ‘En Paz’ in 2008. The critically acclaimed album was supported by Eljuri’s first international tours and a new and enthusiastic fan base from Latin America who Eljuri explains, “truly understood my music for the first time. Not only because of the reference to Latin rhythms but, because as a solo artist, I found that my lyrics were coming naturally to me in Spanish.”
Having gathered stories from musicians and fans she met while on tour, Eljuri went back into the studio to record her second solo album in 2012. This time recording songs with a ferocious yearning to express her anger and give voice to atrocities we as a global society were witnessing. The album’s title, ‘Fuerte’ was intended to encourage strength and the courage to stand up for what is right, what is true and what we can change using the power of our voices.
For over a decade, Eljuri has performed on world renowned stages; at Vive Latino, Mexico’s most celebrated music festival attended by more than 250,000 enthusiastic fans; the Luminato Festival where she made her 2015 Canadian debut; the Houston iFest where she shared the main stage bill with Los Lonely Boys, War and Steel Pulse; at Chicago’s famed Millenium Park where the Chicago Sun Times proclaimed “Eljuri among the best bets, at the Viva Chicago Music Festival”; as featured international performer and guest of Doctor Krapula at the Viva el Planeta Festival in the Bogota Sports Stadium, Colombia; at the 2015 Mujeres Al Frente Fest in Guadalajara, Mexico where she headlined her first festival; in 2016 as headliner of the Prismatic Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia and as a leader of the Women’s Movement in 2017 for the Festival CDMX por los Derechos de las Mujeres held on the iconic stage in the main Zócalo of Mexico City, at the 2018 Women’s March on NYC and looks forward to her first performance at Musikfest 2019 in Bethlehem, PA.
Self described as a songwriter primarily, Eljuri found herself digging deeper than ever before into both her Spanish and Lebanese roots and into her experience as an immigrant to the US for the collection of songs on her third solo album, ‘La Lucha’ (Manovill Records 2016). Eljuri reaffirms her relevance in a constantly changing global music landscape.
“I continue to look at myself, my journeys passed and my path forward — I’m evolving and embracing it,” says Eljuri. She titled the album, ‘La Lucha’ (‘The Fight’) for her lyrical messages. She continues, “The themes of these songs center around stopping injustice. I’m using my voice and guitar to drive and inspire positive social change. Like the Rolling Stones say ‘you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.’”
You get what you need, and you make what you need. Eljuri wrote a motivating theme to inspire her sisters and brothers who are in the fight against injustice for the long haul. Her message and the title of the track is ‘Keep it Up’. Caught off guard and inspired by this undeniable tune, Eljuri and her label Manovill Records decided to record and produce ‘Keep It Up’ in time to release the song before the 2018 midterm elections in the United States. This is the first time Eljuri has released a single independent of an album.
With new material and a refreshed look to her collection of original reggae songs, Manovill Records released ‘Resiste: La Colección Reggae de Eljuri’ on Friday April 12, 2019. No stranger to the reggae genre, Eljuri comes to this juncture in her career naturally. She has been writing reggae tunes since her early days with the Trouble Dolls on New York City’s lower east side. True to her activist self, Eljuri ripped the lyrics for ‘Resiste,’ the title track and first single from the collection, straight from today’s headlines. Eljuri has co-written three songs with the infamous Jamaican reggae duo: Sly & Robbie. Also included on the album are the songs ‘Una Ola’ and ‘El Aire‘ from her debut album ‘En Paz,’ which were deemed roots-reggae by Dermot Hussey the legendary broadcaster and musicologist; and winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest (World Category) Eljuri’s anti-gun violence song ‘BangBang’.
Eljuri performs as a power trio; touring with stellar professional musicians, many of whom have played with her for five years or more. Cecilia Villar Eljuri leads on guitars and vocals; with Alex Alexander, drums (David Bowie, Youssou N'Dour, Eminem), Johnny Pisano, bass (Deborah Harry, Marky Ramone, Ryan Adams), Winston Roye, bass (Soul Asylum, Shakira, Lauren Hill), Tracy Wormworth, bass (B52s, Sting, Wayne Shorter), Coca Cortes, bass (Los De Abajo) and Javo Sosa, drums (Maldita Vecindad).
As a musical activist, Eljuri has been a lead organizer for the Women’s March on NYC since the original march in January 2017. Through benefit performances and by lending her music to globally significant causes, Eljuri has helped to raise funds for immigrants to the US through a benefit concert for the NYCLU, for victims of the recent earthquake in Ecuador and has built clean water centers with and serves on the Boards of ViaTalenta and Aquality International (formerly Water Ecuador). She developed and offers her bilingual ‘Eljuri on Guitars / Eljuri en las Guitarras’ workshops to schools, community centers and as a master class to music schools for aspiring guitarists and musicians. As a role model to the Latinx community, Cecilia leads her ‘Artivism: How to Find and Use Your Voice / Artivismo: Como encontrar y usar su propia voz’ and emphasizes the importance of education and music as a vehicle of expression at engagements including as a keynote speaker at Columbia University / Barnard College. She serves as a member of the artist coalition for VotoLatino, a US based organization that provides culturally relevant programs to empower Latinos to be agents of change and to build a more inclusive democracy and the Women’s March Alliance helping to raise awareness about the organization’s work.
Eljuri has garnered awards for her songwriting from Billboard, the USA Songwriting Competition, and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, twice, was designated a finalist in the 2018 World Citizen Artist Awards, and was just named the winner of the 2019 Songs for Social Change Songwriting Competition by the Renaissance Artist and Writers Association.
‘Ya Es Hora,’ her video about a soldier returning from service and suffering from PTSD was selected as an official video to five international film festivals winning Best Music Video at the 2015 Voiceless International Film Festival. Her original music has been heard in movie scores (Solitary Man, Snitch, Away from Here) and on internationally syndicated TV shows (NCIS LA, Dexter, ESPN, From Spain with Love, Privileged, One Night Stand with Annie Sibonney, I Used to Be Fat, Workin' Moms).
Eljuri proudly endorses Gibson Guitars, D’Angelico Guitars, JH Audio Custom In-Ear Monitors, Mono Cases and Moody Guitar Straps.