La Doña — born Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea — creates music for today’s social issues. See 2 video below!
The SF Bernal Heights native’s meditations on the city reach are revealed n the Afro-Mexican genre known as son jarocho.
As an educator, activist, and lifelong trumpet player, her work pushes for unity among people of color in San Francisco in parallel with its exploration of son jacocho, an Afro-Mexican genre hailing from the state of Veracruz.
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La Doña was born in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights, practically with a microphone in her hand. She began her professional music career at the age of seven, performing in her family conjunto alongside her parents and sister all around the greater Bay Area.
La Familia Peña-Govea’s music has served as the community’s unofficial soundtrack for decades as they’ve performed for countless festivals, parties, weddings, and so on.
Growing up during the rise of the Bay Area’s historic Hyphy movement has also served as a major influence in La Doña’s work. Nods to Bay Rap legends like Too $hort and JT the Bigga Figga seamlessly fused with her signature Latin rhythm perfectly encapsulate the eclectic culture that she along with fellow Frisco natives of her generation were raised in.
Son jarocho, the genre of “Chuparrosa,” is important, she says, because more enslaved people arrived in what is now Mexico during the first 50 years of the slave trade than were brought to the U.S. during the entire history of slavery, resulting in a Black and indigenous culture that isn’t always properly acknowledged.
(“I myself grew up within that practice,” she says, adding that “there’s a pretty healthy culture of son jarocho in the Bay Area as well.”) As for the hummingbird metaphor, it’s not merely because Monterrosa was gone too soon.
“I’ve been actively resisting and continuing to be part of the movement against police brutality in San Francisco much longer than I’ve been making music as La Doña,” she says.
Her newest song, “Chuparrosa” — which translates to “hummingbird” and carries a delightfully onomatopoeic sense of buzzing about — is a plaintive response to the death of Sean Monterrosa, the 22-year-old killed by Vallejo police barely a week after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That Monterrosa’s death came in response to his work protesting police violence should be bitter enough on its own, but La Doña knew him personally.
See 2 videos!