Congratulations to Giselle Woo and the Night Owls for their Tachevah 2018 victory!
By Noe Gutierrez
“What a thrill to win Tachevah! I’m still in shock I think, but as soon as it wears off I’m scheduling studio time with the band,” Giselle shared.
Born in Palm Springs and raised in Cathedral City, Giselle Woo was reared to become the righteous woman and musician she is. “My upbringing was a very loving one. My parents have always encouraged me to be who I am; they are musicians themselves so I think they see themselves in me.” Her family has consistently stood beside her. “They have supported me throughout every stage in my life. They’ve seen me through my lowest and celebrate any little accomplishment I’ve made along the way. When I think of family values, all I can think of is one word; LOVE. They love unconditionally; my entire family is this way. We are a special kind of people.” Love was all she needed. Giselle is all heart.
Self-admittedly, Giselle has a long way to go to reach her potential. “I’m still working it out, but I know it involves love, fighting for equality and standing up for what is right. Oh, and playing lots of music!” Giselle lives by her mantra, “Never give up. It’s never too late. If you fall, keep getting up. Stick to whatever your passion is, don’t give up so quickly.” Despite her talent she remains self-conscious. “I’m kind of shy. I just put on a good show.” With all her success, her bashfulness will seemingly dissipate.
Along with being the preeminent vocalist in the Coachella Valley fronting Giselle Woo and the Night Owls, she is also Station Manager for KCOD and continues to attend courses at College of the Desert. Giselle shared, “I will continue to attend courses. My goal is to get my Associates Degree in music, though I am super intrigued with interpersonal communications.” Whatever she chooses, Giselle will excel.
Giselle didn’t have any formal music education prior to her attending COD. Her mastery of music came from her parents. “My informal music education was Dad drawing a few chords in a notebook, that’s how I started. I began playing guitar for my church with my parents. That helped me gain confidence, at first I started off playing against the wall behind the choir, I was so young and scared. Slowly, but surely, I got closer and closer, until I was standing right next to my mom and dad, facing the entire congregation and singing harmonies on the microphone and being the only guitar playing the mass, with dad on bass and mom on mandolin. The beauty about that environment is that there is no judgment and no competition. It wasn’t until later in my life that I decided to take a music course in college. COD was my first formal music education experience. I know that I will get to where I need to be.” There is no doubt she will get there with the support of her family.
Family is everything to Giselle. “My family is crazy! When we get together, we eat, dance, play games, and talk… a lot, and our family get-togethers last all day sometimes, it’s beautiful. The Woos are my wild ones, Dad is the jokester of the family. Los Gutierrez’ are super fun as well; we watch sports and go on family vacations. My grandparents are the pillar of the family; they are strong in their faith and share that passion with us all. We pray, we cry and we support each other. I’m super lucky. Thanks to my mom I hold mothers in the highest regard; being a hard worker, a mother, a wife, a nurse… I mean, have you seen a mom in action? They are the most incredible beings on Earth, both humans and in the animal kingdom. They are the strongest and the smartest; I have been surrounded by strong, hard working women my whole life. Shout out to all the mothers out there doing their best to give their children love and guidance.” Giselle has a close circle of confidantes she considers family.
Giselle’s friends are aware of her journey and, like her family, have stuck by her with encouragement through challenging times. “Friends that I consider close have seen me at my lowest, and still manage to love the crap out of me. They are the ones I turn to when I’m feeling lost, insecure or depressed. I’m pretty dramatic sometimes, and very open with my emotions, sometimes too open, but they love me the same. It’s funny, all my best friends, I’ve had run-ins with, we’ve tested our boundaries, pushed through negativity and only love remains in the end. It’s a trip, but it just shows who’s down with you and who is not.” Through it all her music career has slowly moved towards a place of comfort for her.
Giselle is more gratified than ever with her path. “I feel good right now. It took me a lot of trial and error, mainly winning internal battles, to get to where I am today. My friends will tell me to give myself more credit, they see things in me sometimes that I have a hard time seeing, because I always want to do better, I always want to do more. I want to go far, but I know how I am and I seem to take my time. So, instead of putting a lot of pressure on myself, I’ve been taking it one day at a time; un dia a la vez.” Her ‘one day at a time’ approach has proven effective thus far. “Surprisingly with that mentality, I’ve gotten further than I ever have; things are just falling into place. I’d like to go somewhere where I am financially stable and doing something to give back to my loved ones and the community.”
The trajectory of Giselle’s music career has given her a new flight plan for wherever she would like to go. She conceded, “I had to admit to myself that I am, in fact, a great singer and musician, that music will always and forever be something that I will create. I had to give it the respect it deserves. I was finally ready to take myself seriously. All my life I’ve had a hard time with commitment, and was always avoiding responsibility. But this was one that I couldn’t keep ignoring, it wasn’t ‘just a hobby’ it is my life, and I shouldn’t let my gifts go to waste. Also, becoming organized with rehearsals and actually ‘showing up’ made a huge difference. I’ve been trying harder at keeping my word and being on time. I noticed that people looked up to me so I had to stop slacking off.” Giselle is considered a leader by many in the desert music scene.
She has accomplished great things through her efforts. Giselle shared, “Getting my song, ‘Coachella Gold’ on iTunes was huge. Having almost three hours of original music is another achievement. It’s rewarding to know that I’ve come this far by playing my own music, having my own lyrics, progressions, etc.”
Giselle finds inspiration to continue to do what she does through her beliefs. “My faith in God is strong. My dearest friends and family hold me up when I can’t do it alone. They inspire me every day. Hard working people inspire me every day. ‘Creatives’ are the bravest people in my eyes. People that aren’t afraid of being themselves, that’s what inspires me; love and heartbreak, life and death and this desert.”
Giselle gives back to her community. “I volunteer at the Valley Missionary Program in Coachella. We work retreats as ‘Misioneras de Jesus’. I’m in the band with my mother and other amazing women. The fun thing is that I get to play the keys, guitar and bass. I love it! But the rewarding part is watching 60 women’s hearts transform in the span of four days; they are healing and are feeling love, some for the first time in their lives.” She also gives on a micro scale. “I also like to be alone. When I do massage therapy I get a lot of peace from that; moving in silence, helping someone heal emotionally and/or physically.”
Giselle has experienced many different cultures in her travels. “I love Guadalajara, that’s where my dad’s sisters live. That’s where I’d go to every summer for the longest time. There is something so humbling about visiting Jalisco, people live simple and happy. I enjoy New York; the rush of the city is something that is exciting and inspiring. I’ve traveled to Manchester, Tennessee for Bonnaroo. It was an amazing experience. I like Hillcrest in San Diego, there is a cool vibe in the air, where no matter who you love you’re welcomed. But there is nothing like home.”
Giselle will be supporting an organization that serves the special needs of children and their families who are at-risk and underprivileged in the Coachella Valley. “I will be representing Variety – the Children’s Charity of the Desert, because my friend, Kimberleigh Funkey, serves as Vice President. She has spent a lot of time spreading the word about this charity and dedicating her love and life to these children,” Giselle explained.