It’s been more than a year and a half since the passing of local mentor, activist and music lover Esme Barrera. But her friends around Austin still find ways to pay tribute to her, whether by volunteering or teaching everyone her guide to a “No Bummer Summer.”
Barrera also believed in the good that comes from teaching music to young girls and women via the nonprofit Girls Rock Austin camp, and it’s through music that many will continue to honor her legacy. During her Austin memorial, nearly 40 of the best local female musicians sang a moving rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow.” Soon, this musical memorial will live on with a special vinyl release of the single.
“Esme loved music, records and particularly a good 7-inch single,” says Linda Maher, one of the organizers of the crowdfunding campaign. “We'd fantasized about starting a 7-inch label so we could put out our favorite songs by local, under-appreciated bands.
“We'd often take our favorite singles to play at 'Love and a 45' at Rio Rita and have jukebox parties. We're also really excited about it being on red vinyl — one of Esme's signature colors.”
The “She’s a Rainbow” campaign not only commemorates Barrera’s love of music through a vinyl release, but it also aims to continue to pass down that passion to the next generation at the Girls Rock Austin camps. Melinda Chow, board chair of GRA, says, “She embodied and lived everything that Girls Rock Austin camps are about: taking risks, finding your voice, supporting each other and having fun — dancing and doing anything that entails having a 'No Bummer Summer' — while you're doing all that.”
Donations to the campaign will also go toward scholarships to help girls who cannot afford an empowering music education. “The Esme Barrera Unlimited Possibilities Scholarship Fund (EBUPSF) is imbued by her spirit and by the life that she led,” Chow says. “We want her spirit to inspire our campers, as our memory of her inspires us.”
The campaign already has funds to cover the cost of making and distributing the records, but every additional donation can help one more girl earn a chance at a life-changing music camp. Another way to help fund scholarships is by attending the Ladies Rock Camp, which is geared toward women who wish they had a rock camp when they were young. The tuition paid by adult campers directly funds a scholarship for a girl to attend Girls Rock Camp.
With this kind of support, there's no doubt girls will continue to rock the Austin music scene. “Esme's enthusiasm for music was contagious, and she was passionate about working with children from all backgrounds and of all abilities,” Maher says. “We feel that this scholarship will spread her love of music and enthusiasm for life for years to come.”