An Invitation to Something Sacred: Ilka’s AWAKE Experience

I moved out to Los Angeles 4 months after graduating college in 2008, to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. I didn’t know how I would get there, or where to even begin, but I bought a one-way ticket for myself and my dog, Batman Rodriguez. I hit the ground running. Soon after, I found myself tripping over, falling, getting lost, and many times almost quitting.

I found friendships for women in Los Angeles to be more like “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer,” and interactions were, more often than not, heavy with unspoken tension and competition. How they should look, behave, dress, weigh, etc. was an all-day discussion, and, in the music industry, these guidelines came with impossible expectations that kept changing on a person-to-mood basis. Some people were so cruel about my physical appearance, they sometimes opted not to listen to my music before giving it a chance, based on that alone.

I was told, “You’re not marketable. I can’t sell you. No one would buy you.” It was heartbreaking.

But then I realized, I don’t want to sell myself. I don’t want anyone to buy me. I want them to listen to my music. I want to share with them who I am, and for them to spend time with my band, and allow us to be a part of their lives through our songs.

I didn’t need to change the way they saw me, but I needed to change the way I saw myself. And as I did, incredible people began to surround me.


For every person who refuses to think outside of the box, I’ve found that there is a person who embraces everything you are. They encourage, support, protect, and love you when you feel you just have nothing else to give. It’s all a part of this beautiful struggle, and Abby Wake is one of those angels.

I met Abby briefly about 5 years ago at a mutual friend’s party, and, although we kept up with each other’s lives on social media, we didn’t speak since then. But when I saw her post about A.WAKE, I knew I had to be a part of it. I wanted to share my music, and be with other women who needed my support and love. So I reached out to her, thinking I’d need to explain why I’d like to join her, but she immediately replied, “Baby you’re already on the evening line-up!” Ha!

That is Abby for you, and that was it! I had been invited into something sacred, and I’ll be a better person for it, for the rest of my life.The more I get to know her, and her beautiful intentions for female artists, the happier I feel for those that will come after us–the young girls with a sparkle in their eye and a dream so big it scares them.

A.WAKE is a sanctuary for female artists who have voices that need to be heard. Not only because they themselves need to be heard, but because our community and our world needs to hear them. The world needs to benefit from real, perfectly imperfect, soulful, talented women who are role models for all the young men and women that are to be our leaders and our visionaries.

As an artist at A.WAKE , you know your art will be respected and appreciated. As an audience member, you leave feeling inspired. You leave the show feeling that little flicker ignite in your bellythat fire, that passion that might have long been compromised, sacrificed, and forgotten.

You will leave remembering why you were put on this earth, and you’ll go home to nurture it, eager to share it with others. Or in some cases, you will leave determined to re-evaluate your life, and find what that purpose is for you. I’ve met beautiful women whom I now find myself blessed to call my friends. Women, who perhaps in any other L.A. setting, would have been pitted against me.


This space, and Abby will change your life. Do yourself a favor and join A.WAKE in any way you can. Perform, write about it, volunteer your tech skills, make flyers, buy wine, encourage your friends to attend…Hell, make it your activity on a date night! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. A.Waken yourself.

Thank you Abby!

~Ilka Cortes


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