SXSW Music Spotlight: La Doña
Where party music meets politics
San Francisco native Cecilia Peña-Govea integrates traditional border orchestration, a diverse range of Latin and Afro-Caribbean sounds, and abolitionist messaging in 2020’s Algo Nuevo. While she’s doing her makeup over the phone, Peña-Govea identifies son jarocho, an Afro-Indigenous style of music coming out of Mexican port towns, as impactful to her sound.
“Son jarocho has been adopted and reinterpreted with mariachi, which I would say is the national music of Mexico. It’s party music, all about the fandango, all about the community, all about improvisation, and those are things that are really important to me.”
As an accomplished trumpet player who grew up playing salsa music with her father, who still plays accordion in her band, Peña-Govea’s music features prominent salsa moñas (horn lines) influenced by Willie Colón and Lobo y Melón.
“I grew up playing mariachi as well, which is very, very different, but also highly orchestrated with a lot of emphasis on trumpet and the trumpet lines playing the leads.”
Her Mexican roots hail from Montego Bay, Jalisco, and Brownsville, so she grew up listening to Lola Beltrán and José Alfredo Jiménez sing rancheras. The norteño sound resonates throughout Algo Nuevo and in recent conjunto-flavored collaboration “Mal de Amor” with Los Texmaniacs. She’s working on her next album, which is still sonically undetermined, but will continue her musical activism.
“I’ve been surrounded by electric guitar and bass players for the last couple years, so that’s inspired me to create music with those kinds of sounds, versus fully acoustic – accordion, trumpet, guitar – and purely synthetic instruments – synth, drum machine.
“The new album, you can definitely expect similar critique of the music industry, sexism, abolitionist messages. But there are also just ass-shakers.”
Wednesday, March 16, 9:15pm, Scoot Inn
Thursday, March 17, 10pm, the Venue ATX
Friday, March 18, 9pm, Creek and the Cave
File Under: Buzzy