By César Lopez-Linares/Texas Standard

As a singer-songwriter in Austin, born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Lesly Reynaga makes pop music inspired by Latin rhythms.

“I use my culture and my heritage as part of my musical influences,” she says.

This year, Reynaga was named the best emerging artist by the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin.

Her first EP, Fool’s Paradise, was released last November.

“It’s a compilation of four original songs and one cover song by Charlie Sexton,” she says. “One big influence for my music is Shakira. I love all of the facets of her career from the beginning. Another one of my big influences is Linda Ronstadt. I discovered her music through mariachi music. She has an album called ‘Canciones De Mi Padre’ which is a compilation of traditional Mexican songs that she learned from her dad. I look up to her influence as a Mexican-American artist.”

She says she’s releasing new material this summer focused on social commentary.

“There’s always two sides to a story,” she says, “and I’m really looking forward to telling my side and speaking out for my community as a Latina, as a woman, and as an artist. I think it’s very important that my community has role models. We’ve had Selena to look up to for a long time, but I think it’s time for a new Texan Latina singer to really represent Texas and I’m ready to do that.”