Isabel Osorio – From American Idol to “Burning Sage in My Mother’s House”
Written by: Sabrina Barkdoll
A finalist of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent competition and “American Idol” contestant, Isabel Osorio has a clear and strong tone backed up by her soothing acoustic guitar. When she’s not performing at farmer’s markets, coffee shops, cafes, and various other venues and competitions, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter hailing from Naperville, Illinois is writing her own music and posting covers on social media. As she is striving to grow as an artist and succeeding, Isabel Osorio has made a name for herself in her hometown.
MPM: First thank you for taking the time to answer these I really appreciate it! Also, congrats on getting onto America Idol! Are you able to tell us what that experience was like for you?
IO: Thank you! Hollywood Week on American Idol was a very intense, deeply transformative experience. I really had to face myself as an artist & person– I was challenged to ask myself what I truly want and why I do this. It took a few months to realize, but the experience helped me understand how PTSD has impacted my ability to show up for myself, and how I can get in front of that.
Over everything else, though, I realized that I have a gift to share– my job isn’t to ‘fix’ or hide myself to be successful; it’s to take off the layers of conditioning that told me that I am not enough. I already am a somebody. I already matter.
MPM: That’s great! It seems like American Idol was a great experience and that you were able to learn something valuable from it. Before American Idol, and typically, what gigs do you find yourself playing?
IO: Great question! I do a broad variety of things: paid bar & restaurant gigs, busking on the street, playing my own shows at places like The Wire in Berwyn, Keynote Concerts for athletic clubs & students– I’ve taken really every opportunity I’ve had to perform and tell stories. My favorite gigs ever were a 50th wedding anniversary & a 90 year old woman’s birthday party. I love getting to be a part of such intimate, beautiful celebrations.
MPM: Seems like you’re keeping busy! I could see why those two gigs might be your favorite! That was going to be my next question, but since you took the time to welcomely answer the other half, what venue would you say you prefer most?
IO: I don’t have a favorite venue yet, but playing at Thalia Hall is the dream!
MPM: I hope to see that for you someday! We know that Covid-19 has affected everything from restaurants to movie theaters to shopping malls. What’s the biggest effect you’d say that Covid-19 has had on you music-wise?
IO: Covid-19 has reminded me how beautiful it is to be still, especially with music. I forgot for awhile–when I’m working all the time, it’s easier to hit burn-out, to take this for granted, to be too scared to put myself out there. I’ve actually released two song–“Hey Stranger” and “Burning Sage in My Mother’s House” during this time–which I would have been too in-my-head about before all of this happened. I am sad about missing so many gigs, but I’m also so grateful for this wake up call.
MPM: “Burning Sage in My Mother’s House” is such an interesting and captivating title. When you say you would’ve been too in your head about it before the pandemic, would it mean that songs would not have been released because they were personal?
IO: Thank you! I’ve been sitting with that question actually, so I can understand myself better. It’s very relevant. Before the pandemic, I wouldn’t have released music because I was terrified to live. I didn’t realize it, but I walked through life holding my breath, petrified that my need for oxygen would disturb someone else; it wasn’t so much that the songs themselves were personal, it was more that I felt like I didn’t deserve to take up space. I felt that I didn’t deserve to be heard.
Recently, I watched “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and also fell in love. Those two things made me realize, in a beautiful unfolding, that I desperately want to be alive and I want to take up space. I want to be real. I want to be seen. So I released the music.
MPM: I know I’ve experienced that as well so I think it’s safe to say that you’re not the only one and that it’s brave to still release music to show others that they can do it too during hard times. This leads to my next question which is–what have you been doing differently as a sort of routine with your music or how have you been still playing for you fans? You briefly discussed still releasing song, but how have you been connecting to them during these times?
IO: So when it comes to music, I feel like there are two different stages; sharing and gathering. Right now, I’m in a season of gathering, which means that I’m prioritizing introspection, learning, and self-care, and space. I used to feel like I, as an artist, am meant to be constantly pouring out content, even when I have nothing to say. For me, that’s anxiety-inducing: the need to stay “relevant” crushing the process of creating.
Right now, I’m finally present for and processing my experiences, which is a big deal to me. That said, I have been doing the occasional Facebook Live show–I’m actually organizing a critical benefit series coming up soon, so watch out for that!
MPM: That’s great! It seems like you’ve been using this time to reflect a lot and it seems like there’s been a lot of positive outcomes from that which I love seeing for you! One last question to close everything out–besides the benefit series coming up, is there anything else that viewers can look forward to?
IO: It’s definitely been a deeply important time. In terms of music, I’m releasing a few songs–“Growing Pains” and “Golden Gate” on 6/27, which is my late Grandmother’s birthday. She was one of the most meaningful influences on my life; being an artist herself, she was one of my biggest fans and loudest, most unconditional supporters.
Additionally, I advise everyone to visit https://blacklivesmatter.com, makes donations to bailout organizations, and commit to getting our educated on our country’s long, twisted, deeply-rotted history of systemically oppressing black people, Let’s look forward to promoting racial justice and cultivating racial equity.
I know I will be looking out for those singles. I encourage everyone reading to check them out as well. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Isabel! You can find Isabel on Instagram (@isabelsings0) and on Spotify (Isabel Osorio).