Tom Smart, Deseret News
Lily Rubio, a singer-songwriter from Miami, performs at a concert in Murray recently.

The title song on Lily Rubio's CD is "Entiendeme," which translates in English to "Understand Me." And that's what Rubio hopes you will do by listening to her music — get a better idea of who she is and where she is coming from.

She hopes you will know she is a Christian artist who has a positive, uplifting message for everyone.

She hopes you will discover that she is a Latino pop singer who likes to jam out at times with R&B and even hip-hop.

She hopes you will also come to know she is an LDS musician who doesn't feel like any of these classifications is mutually exclusive.

Rubio, who lives in Miami, was in Salt Lake City recently to do workshops at Especially for Youth conferences and took some time to talk about her debut CD and her musical passion.

The album features songs done in both Spanish and English.

"I wanted to do something in Spanish," she says. "There's such a void for inspiring Spanish music, especially that's youth-oriented. If you listen to the radio, you know how bad times are. I want to offer a positive alternative."

The songs, she says, "are stories of life that everyone can relate to. They are messages for everyone, not just those of our faith."

Rubio discovered Christian music early in life. "It fits my standards and beliefs," she says. But she admits there is sometimes still a divide between Christian and LDS artists.

"At times, I've been shut out by the Christian community," she says. "I've had bookings canceled after they found out I was LDS. One of my backup singers quit. But I've had more positive than negative experiences. I've sung in other churches, worked with other pastors, and they've been wonderful. I feel like I'm opening doors."

At the same time, being so far away from the core of LDS music in Utah has had its challenges. "People here don't know me, or they think I should just work in Christian music — if I can do that, why would I want to do this?"

Or, she says, they don't know much about Christian music. "I want them to know there are tons of artists out there making positive music," she says. "Sometimes you have to seek them out."

But she is finding that her music is reaching out, and she has been traveling and performing around the country more and more. "Amazing things are happening," she says.

Rubio credits her mother with encouraging her to follow music. "She made me a dreamer. She was a singer/songwriter herself. She got me singing when I was 15."

Rubio is part of a big family — eight sisters and two brothers, including a brother and sister who are now attending Brigham Young University — so there's always been a lot of music going on at home, she says.

Her husband, James Duerkes, has also been very supportive. He's a medical student, and they've been married for two years, so they are both at a hectic place in life. But it has also been exciting and challenging, she says.

She does feel she has a special ability to bring "Spanglish" into context. "English is my first language, but I do also speak Spanish. It's a blessing to reach both audiences, to be able to represent both cultures. The Hispanic culture is the fastest-growing one in our church. I know they are hungering for good music to listen to."

And if she sometimes gets a little overwhelmed and discouraged by it all, she also knows where to find comfort. "My Savior Jesus Christ always shows up at my pity parties," she says. "When I begin to worry — 'Who am I to think I can do this?' — he raises me up. When I'm at my lowest, he is there. For example, a while ago I was thinking, 'Should I give this up?' and just then I got a phone call from a friend who is also a Latin singer. He gave me the best pep talk. The Lord knew just what I needed to hear at that time. It let me keep going."

That's what faith and dedication can do for you, she says, "and that's a message everyone needs to hear." And that's what all people who seek to understand Lily Rubio and her music will discover.

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