Working late to her job as Latin music analyst for Pandora Radio one morning in the summertime of 2018, Cecilia Peña-Govea figured she’d drive to the Mission District workplace slightly than journey her bicycle.
As a substitute of arriving at work, nevertheless, she crashed right into a stalled automobile whereas heading north on Interstate 280. Feeling her spirit rise out of her physique, she skilled an epiphany that exposed her first track as La Doña, the femmetón singer-songwriter.
“I simply sang it from begin to end, and I felt it deliver me again into my physique,” she stated. “I assumed, I’ve obtained to write down this track down.”
At peace along with her mortality, a way of freedom washed over her because the incantatory verses of the track “Nada Me Pertenece” (“Nothing Belongs to Me”) spilled out of her. Set to a delicate, insinuating reggaeton groove, it’s a quintessential La Doña creation that’s each achingly susceptible and seductively earthy as she strips away all the pieces extraneous, “forsaking a damaged coronary heart, empty arms and a track for my sister,” Peña-Govea defined.
Since then, although La Doña’s nationwide emergence was thwarted by the pandemic, Peña-Govea appears to be selecting up the place she left off since opening for Bay Space-reared R&B star Ledisi at this yr’s kickoff of the Stern Grove Festival on June 20.
Now La Doña is slated to headline the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival on Saturday, July 17. It’s an occasion she’s performed quite a few occasions earlier than in La Familia Peña-Govea alongside her mother and father, Miguel Govea and Susan Peña, and older sister René Peña-Govea.
Greater than a band, La Familia Peña-Govea was a neighborhood establishment in Bernal Heights with a repertoire encompassing mariachi and merengue, rancheras and boleros, sones and cumbia. It’s how Peña-Govea realized self-possession, taking part in within the household band when her friends had been cheering the exploits of “Dora the Explorer.”
She began off taking part in a panoply of Latin American percussion devices, together with güira, cajón and bass drum, however quickly graduated to the trumpet. As she remembers, becoming a member of the band wasn’t a lot a alternative as an unspoken expectation, which led to an advanced emotional dynamic along with her household as she reached adolescence.
“If you’re a child and see your mother and father in love with one thing else, you’re feeling some jealousy,” stated Peña-Govea, who additionally teaches within the San Francisco Unified Faculty District’s mariachi program. “At a sure level, you work in the event you can’t beat ’em, be part of them.”
Whereas Peña-Govea might sound far too younger for her moniker, a proper phrase that interprets from Spanish with a matronly connotation as “the Woman,”the 27-year-old has already spent twenty years as knowledgeable musician, because of her household band.
“I believe Ceci undoubtedly has a matriarch high quality to her,” stated videographer Naomi Pasmanick, who has identified Peña-Govea since they had been each youngsters. “She fills any area she inhabits. La Doña was an applicable identify, and it didn’t appear bizarre or out of character. She owns her area and her sound and herself. “
As La Doña, that sound has earned her reward by music critics and followers alike nationwide. The label Human Re-Sources, acquired by Sony final yr, launched her first EP, “Algo Nuevo,” on March 12, 2020, simply earlier than California’s shelter-in-place order was issued and the pandemic put the kibosh on her sold-out launch social gathering and nationwide tour.
Then simply as she was beginning to plan her re-emergence as a performer, Human Re-Sources dropped her distribution deal for her second EP in Could, trying to lower down their roster.
Peña-Govea took just a few days to regroup after which set out along with her artistic staff to make a music video for La Doña’s authentic corrido “Mal de Amor” at a dancing horse ranch. Working with Los Texmaniacs, the Grammy Award-winning Tex-Mex band from San Antonio, she turns the tables on a wayward lover. (And sure, there’s some pleasant equine choreography.)
Steeped in conventional Latin American musical idioms and up to date Latin grooves, her music captures the pleasures and anxieties of the Mission District, denouncing gentrification, celebrating sturdy girls and seamlessly mixing her cultural roots and innovation. La Doña’s music is each forthrightly political and transparently private. Peña-Govea even got here out as queer to her mother and father through her EP’s title monitor, “Algo Nuevo.”
Her household continues to outline and form her music, too. At Yerba Buena Gardens, her band contains her closest pals and her father, who has largely retired from the fixed hustle of bandleading.
“There are people who find themselves traditionalists, however she’s had a novel upbringing — listening to music, taking part in music, tenting out with totally different kinds of Mexican music, jazz, and Caribbean, Central and South American music. She’s the youngest within the household and it takes time to determine your position out,” Govea stated. “I’m so joyful for her. She looks as if she’s discovering her groove.”
It’s a fragile dance as a result of La Doña is bigger than life. Icon, artist and tribune of the group, she’s making a celebratory soundtrack for troubled occasions.
And she or he hasn’t given up her nationwide ambitions, although the isolation imposed by the pandemic led her to refocus on her dedication to her neighborhood, the place she’s now a part of the panorama as the topic of the Mission’s newest mural undertaking. Funded by the San Francisco Giants as a part of a public artwork program and painted by veteran Bay Space muralists DJ Agana, Robz and Vogue, a 10-foot-tall picture of Peña-Govea adorning the wall of the Casa Guadalupe market at twenty sixth and Mission streets was formally unveiled Sunday, July 11.
“On the finish of the day I’m a group artist,” she stated. “I do wish to be acting on the larger phases, however I’m not letting go of my radical anti-racist ideology or honoring the place I got here from.”
Yerba Buena Gardens Competition presents La Doña: 1 p.m. Saturday, July 17. Free. Mission Avenue between Third and Fourth streets. 415-543-1718. ybgfestival.org/event/la-dona