Congrats to Grammy-nominated Quetzal!

Congrats to UW graduate student Martha Gonzalez (Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies), former Simpson Center staff member Quetzal Flores, and their band Quetzal! Their album “Imaginaries” has been nominated for a 2012 Grammy in the “Latin Pop, Rock, or Urban Album” category.


Flores founded Quetzal in Los Angeles in 1992 with the intention of pushing the boundaries of Chicano music, blending East L.A. Chicano music with rock, R&B, pop, and son jarocho, the traditional music of Veracruz, Mexico. Quetzal’s music tells the story of people’s social, cultural, and political struggles, and band members participate in a much larger web of musical, cultural, and political engagements.


Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Gonzalez joined the group shortly after it was formed. In addition to her current work at the UW, she has also studied drumming and dance of Ghana and Cuba at the University of California, Los Angeles. Gonzalez affirms a strong female perspective in the group’s creative projects: “Part of being in the band is having a Chicana feminist analysis. The presence of women in the group is not ‘eye candy’ or a tokenized gesture toward balancing any sort of gender scale: it’s an honest recognition of the poetic, musical, and compositional strengths the female musicians in the community possess.”


In her work at the UW, Gonzalez focuses on Chicana feminist theory, culture production, and transnational musical dialogues. She was awarded a Fulbright fellowship 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 in the genre of son jarocho. Her publication, "Zapateado Afro-Chicano Jarocho Fandanguero: Self Reflective moments in Zapateado" appears in Dancing Across Borders: Mexican American Dance in the U.S. (2009). She is also a participant in the Simpson Center-sponsored Women Who Rock project and unconferences.


Flores worked at the Simpson Center as program manager of the American Music Partnership of Seattle (AMPS), a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation which sought to foster inter-institutional connections among KEXP 90.3 FM, the University of Washington, and the EMP Museum. The Simpson Center administered the AMPS grant from 2009 until its closing in 2011.


When Gonzalez and Flores, who are married, moved to Seattle from Los Angeles, they brought son jarocho with them. Here they collaborated with UW scholars Francisco Orozco and Shannon Dudley (Ethnomusicology), others from Social Work, Women Studies, Latin American Studies and Dance within the University, and cultural organizations like El Centro de la Raza and Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Through a series of integrated activities—community workshops, performances, graduate seminars, artist residencies, and more—the group created the Seattle Fandango Project as a means to explore new possibilities for the arts as community practice. The participatory nature of the project, which continues to thrive, emphasizes the contributions and learning of all parties involved, as faculty, students, and community members are co-creating knowledge and community together.


Quetzal’s Grammy-nominated album “Imaginaries” was in part inspired by a scholarly work The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History written by historian Emma Perez and published in 1999. According to Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies faculty member Michelle Habell-Pallan, this book is included on the syllabus of the department’s Chicana feminist theory seminar every year.


The 55th Annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2013. View a complete listing of the 2012 Grammy nominations.

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