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Silvana Estrada's single 'Si Me Matan' is protest song against domestic violence

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In Mexico, about 10 women and girls are killed every day by partners or family members. The Mexican singer-songwriter Silvana Estrada wrote about this in "Si Me Matan" or "If They Kill Me." Her song is nominated for an award in tomorrow's Latin Grammys. Reporter James Fredrick spoke with her in Mexico City.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

SILVANA ESTRADA: (Singing) Oh. Oh. Oh.

JAMES FREDRICK, BYLINE: Silvana Estrada still remembers the first lesson she learned about being a woman. She was 5 or 6 years old and watched men at a construction site catcalling her mother near their home in Veracruz, Mexico.

ESTRADA: I saw my mother's reaction, and I felt she was so scared and so uncomfortable with her body and so ashamed.

FREDRICK: We spoke at a coffee shop in Mexico City where she told me another lesson her mom taught her years later.

ESTRADA: And you need to say no many times, thousands of times, in order that they understand that no is no.

FREDRICK: As a young, female musician traveling alone to play small gigs across Mexico, Estrada came across a story on social media. A young woman around her age had taken a cab and was later found dead. But most of the online chatter blamed the victim for being out late by herself.

ESTRADA: What shocked me the most was to see all the comments and all the media trying to make her guilty of her own death.

FREDRICK: A series of similar cases sparked a hashtag on social media - #SiMeMatan - #IfTheyKillMe - in which women pushed back against the idea of being responsible for their own murder. It sparked something in Estrada, and she started writing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

FREDRICK: She sings, I grew up in fear, but even so, I went out alone to see the stars, to love life.

ESTRADA: I wrote that part, like, in a day, and then the next - the second part took me, like, two years because I was so angry.

FREDRICK: In the second half of the song, something changes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish).

FREDRICK: Estrada sings, if they kill me, I'll become a seed for those to come. Now no one silences us. Nothing contains us.

ESTRADA: It took me two years to understand that what I wanted the most was to keep my own hope. I'm so grateful with this song, because it took me to a place that I was needing so much.

FREDRICK: This song has grown into something the 26-year-old never expected. It's become an anthem of defiance and a staple in women's marches across Latin America where signs show the lyric, they've taken so much from us that they've even taken our fear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in Spanish).

FREDRICK: There have been many adaptations of the song but none as grand as this one performed by the feminist collective at the Catalonia College of Music in Barcelona.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in Spanish).

FREDRICK: But most moving of all for Estrada was the music video she made for the song.

ESTRADA: I think it's the most beautiful experience that I've ever lived in my life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

ESTRADA: (Singing) Si me matan...

FREDRICK: She sits with her guitar in an empty courtyard. She starts playing and singing. As the camera spins around her, Estrada comes face-to-face with a series of women - old, young, one rubbing her pregnant belly. She performed the song live for each woman, and inevitably, every session ended in tears.

ESTRADA: It teached (ph) me so much about empathy and about community and about music, really. It's insane. We were all feeling just because a song. It's insane. Music is insane. I love it (laughter).

FREDRICK: For NPR News, I'm James Fredrick in Mexico City.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI ME MATAN")

ESTRADA: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.