East Los Angeles natives Quetzal perform “Estoy Aqui (I Am Here)” at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Their 2011 album ‘Imaginaries’ is out on Smithsonian Folkways.
Quetzal, a GRAMMY winning ensemble, called “provocative, heartfelt and strikingly original” by the LA Times and founded by guitarist Quetzal Flores, rose from the ashes of uprisings in LA in 1992 as a vehicle for social commentary and activism. Quetzal’s music has its roots in traditional son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico, but is reinterpreted through alternative rock. Incorporating other Mexican, Afro-Caribbean, and R&B rhythms, as well as writing bilingual lyrics, reflects the multicultural environment of Quetzal’s native East LA. “Estoy aquí (I Am Here)” is a backbeat cumbia inviting people to both dance and also to think. Quetzal uses this song to validate claims of space and presence made by Mexican and Mexican-American communities despite oppression by local governments.