Sometimes inspiration is closer than one might think. Relocating with her family to San Diego at the age of 12, had the parents of country singer-songwriter Rosie Flores chosen a different Realtor, music may have been a passive experience in her life.
"I moved right next door to the biggest country music fans that I'd ever met," recalls Flores. "They kind of turned me on to who Tammy Wynette was."
Today, Flores lives in Nashville, but she got her start as a teenager in San Diego in the late-'60s with the country-rock group Penelope's Children. Later, she took those Americana roots and infused "em with her emerging punk ethos with Rosie & the Screamers. That group and her subsequent band, the Screamin' Sirens, were part of the roots-punk movement that sprang out of the late-'70s punk explosion.
"When I first heard [country music], I thought, "That's not rock 'n' roll,'" she laughs. "I thought [it was] kind of corny. But every time I went over to the neighbor's, I would hear it, and I think it got into my subconscious."
The former Madison High student overcame her aversion to country and went on to release eight albums. In the process, she ironically resuscitated the career of one of her early favorites-'50s country crooner Wanda Jackson.
"Getting her to record a duet with me, and then out there to tour, was a dream come true," Flores says. "We bonded and became close friends. She's always crediting me with helping her so much, but really, back at'cha girl. She's been a great inspiration since I was in high school. Just in that alone she's helped me so much."
After stints on several major labels, Flores finds herself an independent artist again, releasing and touring behind a solo acoustic album, A Single Rose. She says there are plenty of labels she admires, but DIY was more appealing.
"I"ve always wanted to try releasing my own music, and now is a good time. Even when Warner Brothers signed me in '87, they had difficulty marketing me," she says, sounding good-naturedly dismissive of her major-label days. "I did record Carl Perkins' "Turnaround,' and that's as close as they'd let me get to rockabilly because they were all, "Ooh, rockabilly-kiss of death."
Flores pauses for a bit of resigned laughter.
"I wasn't anything like Reba McEntire or the Judds-there was something different about what I did," she says. "Here I was Hispanic, rockabilly, kind of rootsy-I suppose a retro kind of act. They just didn't know what to do."
Rosie Flores performs at Normal Heights Methodist Church, 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 18. $15-$20. www.acousticmusicsandiego.com.