Martha Gonzalez

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Martha poses in front of a lime green wall in a long white dress, caramel blazer, cat eyeglasses, and jewelry. She is a Chicana woman with tan skin, short black hair, and a warm smile.]

Chicana Musician and Artivista
Los Angeles, CA
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Reis Foundation.

Martha Gonzalez is a Chicana artivista singer, songwriter, musician, feminist music theorist, and associate professor in the Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o Latina/o Studies at Scripps/Claremont College. Born and raised in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Gonzalez is a Fulbright (2007–8), Ford (2012–13), and Woodrow Wilson (2016–17) fellow. Her academic interests have been fueled by her own musicianship as a singer/songwriter and percussionist for the Grammy Award–winning band Quetzal, which has made considerable impact on the L.A. music scene.

The relevance of Quetzal’s music and lyrics have been noted in a range of publications, from dissertations to scholarly books. The group’s latest album, Puentes Sonoros (Sonic Bridges), will be released on Smithsonian Folkways. Gonzalez has recorded and composed for a number of projects and artists over the course of her career, including Los Lobos, Susana Baca, Virginia Grise, and Liz Lerman, to name a few. She has also been active in implementing the collective songwriting method at correctional facilities throughout California and in Seattle.

In the summer of 2017, as a testament to the body of music and community work she has accomplished on and off the stage, her tarima (stomp box) and zapateado dance shoes were acquired by the National Museum of American History and are currently on permanent display. Her first book, Chican@ Artivistas: Music, Community, and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles, was recently published by University of Texas Press.

Gonzalez lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Quetzal Flores, and their 15-year-old son, Sandino.

Portrait photo by Gary Coronado and the Los Angeles Times.

  • Artwork by Martha Gonzalez
    Post-performance photo of Entre Mujeres, 2012. From left to right Rocio Marron, Annahi Hernandez, Martha Gonzalez, Wendy Cao Utrera, Laura Rebolloso, Kali Niño, Marisoul Hernandez. Bottom Niki Cambpell.
    [ID: A diverse group of adults seated on stage stairs, embracing, smiling, and striking funny poses.]
  • Artwork by Martha Gonzalez
    Dr. Martha Gonzalez presents CSP Lecture, 2016. Photo by Marc Campos, Occidental College Photographer.
    [ID: Martha performs with a band onstage. She stands on a small podium and sings into a microphone, while musicians behind her play various string instruments.]
Artwork by Martha Gonzalez Artwork by Martha Gonzalez