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Quetzal Flores

Los Angeles, United States

Growing up in grassroots movements, as the son of labor union organizers, Flores inherited an undying accountability to community struggles. From land struggles with South Central farmers, immigration reform, supermarket workers union strike, and the indigenous Zapatista struggle, to the everyday community struggles in East Los Angeles, he has been active with music in hand. Since 1993, he has been working as the musical director for the East Los Angeles based rock group Quetzal.

Throughout his professional musical career, he has shared the stage and has collaborated with groups and artist such as; Los Lobos, Taj Majal, Zack De La Rocha (Rage Against the Machine), Los Van Van, Son De Madera, Susana Baca, and Daara J, Aloe Blacc, among others. The ensemble Quetzal has made considerable impact in the world of Chicano music in the last 19 years. The importance of their work is marked by their participation in events such as the Homegrown Music Series at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, the traveling exhibit American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, and the completion of five albums, the latest of which, Imaginaries, was released this year on the Smithsonian Folkways label.

Since 2002, Flores has been a central figure in the transnational dialogue between Chicana/o musicians and artists from California and Mexicano musicians and dancers from Veracruz, Mexico. From this dialogue emerged many recordings, performances, publications, workshops, and community building efforts under the organizing auspices of Fandango Sin Fronteras. To enhance this dialogue, Flores spent nine months in Xalapa, Veracruz, in 2007 with his family composing and recording music with women of El Nuevo Movimiento Jaranero, a movement geared at reinvigorating the son jarocho music tradition of Southern Veracruz.

With developed skills in music, organizing, and producing, Flores was hired as the Program Coordinator for the American Music Partnership of Seattle in 2008. In facilitating this collaboration between the University of Washington (UW), The Experience Music Project, and KEXP 90.3 FM, he co-founded and launched the Seattle Fandango Project, one of the UW’s most successful and sustainable community partnership initiatives engaging diverse and historically aggrieved communities inside and outside the university.

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