East LA voice Ersi Arvizu - singer for El Chicano and The Sisters - has made Friend for Life, her first album since 1976, and her first-ever solo album.  Scheduled for May 6 release on Anti- Records,  'Friend for Life' was produced by Ry Cooder, and grew out of Arvizu's appearance on his critically acclaimed 2005 song cycle 'Chavez Ravine.'
Surrounded by old friends - keyboardist and cowriter Joey Navarro, guitarist Mickey Lespron (also one of the founding members of El Chicano) and her sisters Mary Rey and Rosella Barraza - "Friend for Life" is Arvizu's story strung into a dozen original songs.  Sung in English and Spanish, it's a story of survival, of  "the fight" both literally (Arvizu is also an amateur boxer her father a trainer) and metaphorically.  It's an album that Arvizu has wanted to make her entire life.
"That's the voice," says Cooder on Arvizu's artistic flowering. "And it's the best thing going. I can't tell you how rare it is. It's about where you're located emotionally."
Arvizu grew up in East LA, learning ranchera and mariarchi music from an early age and playing with her family, which gradually evolved into the appropriately named band The Sisters. The act sang for fights at the Olympic Auditorium, El Monte Legion Stadium or the Paramount Ballroom in LA, eventually opening for Ike & Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers and Caesar
and Cleo (later known as Sonny and Cher).  They signed with the legendary Del-Fi Records - home to Richie Valens - and scored a #3 hit with their 1964 single "Gee Baby Gee."
Following her time in The Sisters, Arvizu sang in a variety of groups, before finding a home with  El Chicano. In the mid-70s, El Chicano gained a reputation as latin rock pioneers, and their songs "Sabor a Mi" and "I'm a Good Woman" became anthems of the genre.