Suzanne Cordeiro/For American-Statesman

‘The Beat is Dead,’ the debut solo album from San Antonio-based Nina Diaz, front woman of the hard rocking trio Girl in a Coma, drops Friday and Diaz celebrates the release in Austin tomorrow night with a show at 3Ten.

» RELATED: Addiction behind her, it’s a new day for Girl in a Coma’s Nina Diaz

The solo project has been in the works for a few years. Diaz first began performing these songs live in 2013, shortly after she became sober following a 12 year struggle with drug and alcohol addiction that began when she was 13.

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Her single “January 9” came out in August. The song is a powerful testimonial with the aching chorus, “I don’t want to be the bad one, I don’t want to be the sad one, that you find.” Diaz wrote it in the final throes of addiction, before she bottomed out and became sober in 2013. A year later, she told us this remarkable story about the song:

“January 9,” like many of her new songs, chronicles her battle (with addiction). The date has a special significance. It’s the day her grandmother passed away in 1998. On Jan. 9, 2013, it was raining and Diaz was at her mother’s house, high out of her mind. “When you’re high on some (expletive), sometimes you’ll see shadow people,” she said. “Sometimes you’ll think something’s there and it’s not … you really trip your brain out.”

She was engulfed in a swirl of feelings and she sensed her grandmother’s presence as she began to work on the song. She was recording snippets on her phone when she suddenly felt a “wave of energy” come to her. The sensation was so intense, she was convinced something was in the house. She ran to her mother’s room, freaking out. Later, when she listened to the recordings from that night, she could hear a whisper in the background. She came to think of it as “a muse type of situation,” something trying to push her to the next level.

A few months later, Diaz bottomed out. “You could tell physically that there was something wrong with me because I lost a lot of weight really fast,” she said. She was staying at her parents’ house, and one night she had a revelatory conversation with her brother. They talked about their grandparents and he admitted that sometimes he feels his grandfather’s presence. Diaz shared her own relationship with her grandmother, and invoking her name summoned the elder’s spirit to the room. “I felt my grandmother was there,” she said. “And I felt like she was telling me you have to stop. You have to stop using.”

It was a turning point for Diaz. “I realized how far I was pushing everybody away from me,” she said. “And how I wasn’t really present in everything that I do.” After talking to her brother, she grabbed the heart-shaped box that contained her stash, stuffed it with any remnants of illegal substances and threw it away.

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