For Graciela Cane, a local Afro-Latina singer and songwriter who debuted her EP, Gee Things, in the fall, she tackles racism and sexism in her music under the name of Geexella. She takes the internal conflicts of her own identity and materializes them into lyric and song. She’s not trying to fit the angry feminist stereotype, but she, and many other millennials, are hurting from racial and sexual discriminations.
In “Black Kids,” Cane sings about her personal struggles with finding her own identity and coming to terms with herself. “Self-identity was hard for me,” she said. “Having a Mexican mom and an African-American dad always made me feel like whatever I did I could never quite fit in.”
Since she was a child, Cane has always been singing. She was classically trained in vocal studies at LaVilla School of the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. After graduation and a year of studying music at FSCJ, she became musically burnt out.
While she underwent the burnout, and in 2014, she came out as pansexual (not limited in sexual choice regarding biological sex or gender) on social media. “I wanted to be open and honest with myself and to share that part of my identity with others,” she said
But two months later, Cane got into a car accident that almost ended her life. A semi-truck hit her near the Emerson exit on I-95 and left the scene. Cane said that her car rolled over three times, but she survived the accident with no broken bones or scratches. “I think almost dying in that car accident made me want to live for something,” Cane said.
Shortly after the accident, Cane became fully dedicated to her music. She started producing tracks with Jacksonville native Willie (whom she calls an OG in the city’s hip-hop community) and performed at local venues. The biggest show in which she performed was at the 2016 River City Pride Parade event, she said.
Cane also became more active in the Jacksonville LGBTQIA (LGBTQ plus Intersex and Asexual) community. In 2014, she became a co-organizer at Girls Rock Jacksonville, a week-long summer music camp for girls, gender non-conforming and trans youth. “For the girls, it’s their week to be who they want to be,” she said with a smile. “It’s hard because the LGBT youth have family members that don’t respect them or allow them to be who they really want to be.”
She does want her listeners and her community in Jacksonville to be aware of her personal struggles within herself and the youth for Jacksonville’s LGBTQIA community.
“American looked very different for me,” she said. “And for me, growing up mixed makes it hard to be yourself. When you have so many things oppressing you, sometimes it’s hard to find that American pride. I think the most pride I’ve felt as an American is with my LGBT community. It’s really the only time I’ve really felt good about that part of my identity.”
But she said that while working with youth at JASMYN and Girls Rock Jacksonville, she saw some of the darkness of being an LGBT youth. She said that a few of the girls were kicked out their homes after coming out to her parents. Cane said she was more fortunate than many when she came out as pansexual on social media.
As more counties in the U.S. have legislations in place to protect LGBTQIA members, Cane said she has growing concerns of Jacksonville’s lack of an HRO.
“For that bill not being passed in the community is upsetting because you can still get denied for going to a bathroom, for being gay, for being trans in parts of Florida,” she said.
Nonetheless, Cane commented that she is very blessed she isn’t persecuted for her sexual identity. But Cain said that there are still places in America where LGBT persons have been physically assaulted for their identity.
In light of this, Cane said she hopes to use her liberties and privileges to infuse them in her music and to speak out on these issues. “I need to speak on things that I believe. Any platforms that I have, such as when I sing or when I’m being interviewed, I try to use it to speak on those things that I’m passionate about because who else will speak on it?”
Sometimes viewing the user-generated content of African American males being shot by officers and the subsequent riots of their deaths is just too much for Cane. “Because I’m a human too, and I’m affected by it, there’s a lot of pressure, especially since I’m an adult. I wonder if it matters if I don’t vote or vote.”
“As a 20-something, I realize that I’m entitled to have those feelings and I can turn off the phone and the notifications. Some people have to chill on the social media because the pressure of it can be a lot for some people.”
But in her music, Cane is just trying to spread the love.
In “Bring Me Back,” Cane sings:
“With no one to listen. No one who cares. But come and listen here. Now those better days are near. Let’s bring this love back and never retract. Now bring me back to the days when love wasn’t so far away.”
Maybe those days aren’t so far away.