Women Who Rock

Making Scenes :: Martha Gonzalez

Martha Gonzalez

As a Chicana Artivista, mother, feminista scholar, respected songwriter, percussionist, and lead singer of Grammy-winning East Los Angeles’s Chicano Alternative Rock Band, Quetzal, Martha Gonzalez is gifted in activating the community-building power and potential of music. For almost twenty years, Gonzalez’s efforts bridge translocal and transnational borders that nurture a network of ‘convivencia’- the spirit of making and living life together centered around music making, in particular the music of son jarocho of Veracruz, Mexico as practiced through the fandango community. Her scholarship analyzes community music-making practices that debunk commercial and social pressures that often position women to choose between musicianship and motherhood.

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Martha Gonzalez is a Chicana artivista (artist/activist), feminist music theorist and academic who was born and raised in East Los Angeles. As PhD Candidate in the Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies (GWSS) Department at the University of Washington Seattle, her dissertation, "Chicana@ Artivistas: East Los Angeles Trenches, Transborder Tactics," focused on Chicana@ Artivisita resistances in East Los Angeles.

For her research on transnational musical social movements across the Americas and Europe, with a specific focus on innovations of women in the music and dance of the son Jarocho, Gonzalez earned a Fulbright Garcia-Robles Award and a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.

Her academic interests in music have been fueled by her own twenty-plus years of musicianship as a singer and percussionist for East L.A's Grammy-winning Chicano rock band Quetzal. The impact of Quetzal's work has been noted in a range of publications from dissertations to scholarly books. As a result, the U.S. Library of Congress and Kennedy Center invited them to speak and perform in their Homegrown music series. The Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular feature Quetzal as leaders and innovators of Chicano music. Smithsonian Folkways label released the 2013 Grammy-wining CD Imaginaries, making the importance of Gonzalez's past and ongoing work.

Gonzalez released her Fulbright research project Entre Mujeres: Feminine Translocal Music Composition, as a CD compilation.

Gonzalez has collaborated, and/or toured with artists such as Los Lobos, Los Van Van, Jackson Brown, Susana Baca, Perla Batalla, Jaguares, Ozomatli, Jonathan Richman, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, iCubanismo!, Taj Mahal, Tom Waits, Los Super Seven, Lila Downs, Raul Malo, Rick Treviño, Son De Madera, Relicario, Chuchumbe Charanga Cakewalk, The B-side Players, Teatro Campesino, Aloe Blacc, Maya Jupiter, and Laura Rebolloso.

For more information about Martha go to marthagonzalez.net.

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