Sometimes life calls for a grito. And, just in time for el 16 de septiembre (Mexican Independence Day), Latina entrepreneur Kathryn Gonzales has created Grito App, an iPhone app that allows users to take gritos with them — for any occasion.
Gritos are emotional shouts that accompany a variety of occasions, from a great song to a good drink to celebrating Mexican Independence. Father Miguel Hidalgo uttered the original Grito de Dolores in 1810 in the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato, Mexico. As legend goes, the priest inspired townspeople to independence, and every year Mexican Independence Day celebrations reenact this grito, usually by saying “¡Qué viva México!”
The idea for Grito App stems from this tradition. A year ago when Gonzales was at a Día de los Muertos celebration and when a song dear to her heart came on, she felt the desire to let out a grito.
“There was this conjunto playing and this song came on, and I was so full of cultural pride, and I wanted to share a grito to promote this beautiful part of my culture, but I didn’t feel confident I could do it, and I thought, ‘How cool it would be if I could have a grito play over this band?’” Gonzales says.
That’s when the idea for Grito App was born.
“It was the first time I felt compelled to do a grito but I didn’t’ have the tools to do it,” she says.
Grito App is meant to be both educational and functional because you can play gritos, but the “pro tips” included in the app explain what a grito is and how and when to use them. Gonzales said she hopes that people from all backgrounds can use the app to enjoy and understand Mexican culture.
The app is in keeping with the other work Gonzales does as an entrepreneur. Storyhouse — the company she works for — gathers family history in video and photos so people can pass on their family story. While she says Grito App is a side project, she did manage to, with her co-founder Matthew Waller, build the app in three days, get it into beta, and test it in a matter of a few weeks.
On September 12, Gonzales hosted a grito contest at the 37th Annual Mexican Independence Celebration. The event took place in East Austin — a traditionally Latino community — and she awarded a gift certificate and piñata to the best grito (a woman won).
“For me the grito is such a Tejano experience, a Tejano sound, and I couldn’t think of a better place than a festival that is honoring our culture to have that initial experience,” Gonzales says.
Gonzalez says the event felt like home and at the end of the day she wants her fellow Mexicans to feel ownership of an app like this that represents community and culture so well.