The Kennedy Center



Quetzal is an ensemble of highly talented musicians which aims to create good music that tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of people in struggle. The group has a root in the complex cultural currents of life in the barrio, its social activism, its strong feminist stance, and its rock and roll musical beginnings. Besides being a rock band, the group and its members participate in a much larger web of musical, cultural, and political engagement.

Quetzal’s approach to music is influenced by more than the East L.A. musical soundscape of Mexican musica ranchera, salsa, Chicano Rock, R&B, and international popular music. For members of Quetzal, music expresses the ultimate struggle for dignity

The group Quetzal emerged out of a particularly contentious time generated by events such as the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, the 1994 Proposition 187 campaign (to deny medical and public services to undocumented immigrants and public education to undocumented children), and the repercussive reach of the Zapatista insurrection in Mexico. These events spurred a powerful synergy in which avenues of expressive culture, such as music and public art, emerged as platforms which voiced marginalized people's desires, opinions, and resistance to the conditions in which they found themselves. Quetzal maneuvered through the societal problems that were affecting the communities in which these artists were living. As a prominent force in this East L.A. creative culture, Quetzal vividly portrays how music, culture, and sociopolitical ideology come together in a specific place.

Watch Past Performances

Video 6/28/2012: Quetzal

The popular Los Angeles group blends Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, R&B, and rock in a concert celebrating the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Video 9/14/2011: Agustin Lira & Alma / Quetzal

A performance showcasing the blend of Mexican, Latin American, American Folk, and Afro-Cuban styles that form Chicano music. Part of Homegrown: The Music of America series.