Luz de Vida—or, “Light of Life”—was music’s response to the 8 January 2011 mass shooting that claimed the lives of six and injured 19 more, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Featuring acclaimed artists like Neko Case, Jimmy Eat World, and Brian Lopez, the compilation album gathered national attention and raised more than $20,000 to benefit the victims and their families.
A new iteration of Luz de Vida is on the horizon. Due 6 November via Fort Lowell, the project’s full name is Luz de Vida II: A Compilation to Benefit Homicide Survivors and benefits Tucson’s Homicide Survivors, Inc.
Its release date falls in line with the city’s All Souls Procession weekend and the tenth anniversary of the 2011 shooting. The album is made in partnership with original members of the Luz de Vida production team, Homicide Survivors, Inc., and JFCS of Southern Arizona. The album boasts 13 tracks once again recorded by both Tucson-based and nationally acclaimed artists including Gabriel Naim Amor, Calexico, Amos Lee, and rising indie rock outfit Soda Sun.
Following the release of their debut LP, this is Soda Sun’s second major release of 2021. “Grape Juice” is the tune that they are contributing to the fundraiser. Calling back to John Goraj’s roots as a South Dakota singer-songwriter, “Grape Juice” is more of a stripped-back folk affair than the textured rock that the band has become known for. Goraj’s sweet vocals step front-and-center, joined by subtle acoustic performances—gentle percussion, a pulsing bassline, and reflective guitar.
The group say that “‘Grape Juice’ is a new iteration of an old song that John wrote when he lived in South Dakota. It’s about relationships — all kinds. It’s about the feeling of being connected to someone and the feeling that you don’t deserve that love. Which, of course, is never true because we all deserve love. It’s about letting someone love you in spite of seemingly countless flaws. There is also a humble underpinning of the song related to one of John’s jobs as a healthcare worker in his early 20s. Anyone who has worked in healthcare knows that there is always a fridge of goodies, drinks, and snacks for the patients — the theme of grape juice plays into that.”
Regarding Luz de Vida II, they state, “We were asked to be involved, and are so happy to be a part of it. Luz de Vida is an important, meaningful project that speaks to what musicians have always done: standing up against hate, bigotry, and violence.”
Luz de Vida II: A Compilation to Benefit Homicide Survivors is a fundraiser. All proceeds raised from Luz de Vida II album sales will go to Homicide Survivors, Inc. to provide services for advocacy, support, and emergency assistance for families impacted by homicide. The album is available for digital pre-order on Bandcamp, and vinyl preorder via Zia Records.