Emerging Mexican-American femmetón singer-songwriter La Doña’s new album, Algo Nuevo, dropped March 12 via Human Re Sources just as the coronavirus pandemic intensified in the U.S. Concerts, festivals and other large gatherings across the country were canceled, including her planned South by Southwest debut, interrupting her early career momentum.
As part of Billboard’s efforts to best cover the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the music industry, we will be speaking with La Doña — whose real name is Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea — every other week to chronicle her experience throughout the crisis. (Read the latest installment here and see the full series here.)
What’s changed for you over the past week?
Not much, I guess. I’ve been playing music for myself and have been active out in the streets either out at protests or for Pride but not too much has changed.
I saw you recorded parts of a song using the looper pedal you invested in. Can you tell me what inspired the lyrics?
I wrote the lyrics that morning. My mom is a lawyer and when I was little, she would always tell me that police officers were worst than any of the criminals she ever had to defend in court. She taught me not to trust police and that was a very valuable lesson. That’s something that I teach my niece and nephew; police exist to protect a certain type of people, which are white people, and their property. Part of it is about that and the other is saying that they’re the biggest gang out there and questioning what they expect from us or to happen when they’re killing our brothers, sisters and youth.
Also, the looper pedal is pretty cool because I grew up in a family band so I had to learn every single part of a song and every single instrument note, so for me it’s really easy to use a looper pedal and be able to sing or play every part. It’s going to be chill for me to write little songs like that and just talk about what I’m thinking about and not coerce my housemates into playing instruments for me.
Will you finish the song and upload it somewhere?
I haven’t been feeling like putting so much energy behind self-promotion, but then I do hear from a lot of people that my music has helped them. I have a weird relationship with my creations right now. I’m doing this for myself and for temporary entertainment, but not necessarily building a catalog off of this. I don’t know. I’m meeting with my A&R tomorrow and we’re going to start talking about it.
The meeting with your A&R tomorrow, is it to start planning some next steps in your career or opportunities to perform?
Yeah! Actually, the family of Sean Monterrosa is having a block party where his memorial is at right now on July 12 and they asked me to perform. I was hesitant because these gatherings are like the least safe under COVID-19 but after speaking to the family, it seem like they’re taking as many safety precautions as they can. So, I’m going to actually perform the new song I wrote for him and for the family with community artist Qing Qi who happens to be one of his teachers when he was younger. It feels like a risk but it will also feel really important to me as one of the only things that I feel OK doing right now, which is offering that service and that gift. The song is called “Chuparrosa” because they say that when he died, people started seeing hummingbirds everywhere.
On Sunday you were featured during the S.F. Pride virtual stream and you have another virtual performance during the Out Loud artist showcase tonight, right?
Yes! I sang “Dembow Y Sexo” and “Algo Nuevo” for S.F. Pride and then today (June 30) I’ll be singing “Nada Me Pertenece.” I couldn’t watch the livestream yesterday because I was out busy participating in Juneteenth follow up actions in San Francisco and the Solidarity Pride march in Dolores Park. I felt sad because I think that if it wasn’t for COVID-19, it would have been a huge and beautiful presence of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but I can’t keep thinking that “if it wasn’t for COVID, blah blah blah.”
— OUTLOUD (@WeAre_OUTLOUD) June 28, 2020