JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — If live music in the Tri-Cities is your favorite weekend activity, the odds are, you’ve heard of Florencia and the Feeling.
Florencia Rusinol is the lead singer and the namesake of the group. She’s a 29-year-old, Canada-born, Johnson City woman with Latin American roots.
Her parents are from Argentina and moved to Canada in the late 80s for a job opportunity. Florencia was born there and lived in Canada for about four years before her parents pursued yet another opportunity in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Florencia spent the majority of her life so far in East Tennessee, attending Science Hill high school and pursuing her passion for music initially through song in local church choirs before forming ‘Florencia and the Feeling’ in April of 2021.
“I contacted them to play for the Corazon Latino festival; it was a virtual show at that point in 2021, and we started practicing and we just felt like we clicked,” said Rusinol.
While having a band was always a goal, it took some time to get there. She first went off to school in Charlotte, North Carolina, to pursue a degree in music therapy. Soon after she moved to Ecuador for a few years before moving back and taking a job in D.C. prior to the start of the pandemic.
It’s these stops along the way that have influenced her music and songwriting.
“In the time that I spent in Ecuador, it kind of reignited a love of Latin music that I had maybe gone away from just by growing up here in the United States,” she said. “So I feel like now more than ever, our band has influences of pop, funk and R&B but a huge Latin influence as well. Our album that we’re working on right now has some Bosanova parts, Reggaeton parts…it has a lot of influence from having grown up as a displaced Latina.”
She said her love of music began at a young age, and it’s something she and her family look back fondly on.
“I remember so vividly being in the car, I guess at a gas station, and when my husband got back in the car he said, ‘Do you hear what she’s doing?’ said Julia Rusinol, Florencia’s mother. “I said ‘What?’ — because he has a really good musical ear to him — and he said she [is] singing the harmonies to the song and it was whatever was playing on the radio, maybe cassette tapes at the time in 93 or 94.”
Florencia’s love and interest in music came as no shock to her parents since her grandfather was a writer and composer in Argentina and her mom and dad were in a Latin band that frequently played in the Tri-Cities in the 90s and early 2000s.
“We normalized performing and enjoying the music and embracing the culture because we were Latino band Quatro,” Julia Rusinol said. “I don’t know if anyone in Johnson City will remember that but it was a lot of fun.”
“For birthdays or holidays or things like that, there would always be music,” said Florencia Rusinol. “My dad with the guitar, my mom singing along — that’s just how I grew up.”
Since forming ‘Florencia and the Feeling’, she said it’s been a magical experience on the stage, but she says the real magic for her is the representation she gives the Latin community here in the Tri-Cities through her music.
“There is a prevalent community of Latinos here, and every single time I’m anywhere in Johnson City or East Tennessee, there is someone that feels identified,” Florencia said. “They might say, ‘Oh wait, I speak Spanish and she’s speaking Spanish!’ I love that we can get more Latino representation in this area because like I said, there is a big community presence here.”
To keep up with Florencia and the Feeling, check out their website.