When Diana Gameros arrived in the Mission District in 2008, she gave herself one month to make it as a musician. She wasn’t sure how it would happen, but she wanted to make enough money to be able to live in the city, grow as an artist and meet other musicians.
Gameros took to Craigslist and saw one post in Spanish that stood out. “It was calling my name,” said Gameros of the post from a family-owned business in search of a musician with a guitar who could play ballads and other Mexican music.
Héctor Flores, the owner of the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor on 24th Street, was ready to hire Gameros the minute she replied to the post. Gameros began playing every Friday and Saturday and slowly but surely her career took off as she began playing at other Mission venues, including the Red Poppy Art House, the Mission Cultural Center, Brava Theater, Little Baobab, SUB/Mission, and the Mission Community Market.
Most recently she earned the Emerging Leader Award from the Chicana Latina Foundation and she was also featured in NPR’s Tiny Desk contest. And on Friday, she will be performing with the East Bay Symphony at the Paramount Theater.
Gameros stayed true to her Mission roots (she still plays at the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor once a month), but she has also branched out. These days, she is backed up by an ensemble that includes Patrick Wolff on the clarinet and saxophone and Ara Anderson on the trumpet.
“I was born in the Mission as an artist and I continue to grow as one,” said Gameros.
Gameros has a voice that puts listeners at ease, but her lyrics often take a political stance.
In Cómo Hacer? Gameros sings about the obstacles and unfamiliarity of being in a strange land. “How can we make the borders dissolve and walk without a rush, without fear?” she sings in Spanish.
Gameros is outspoken about the current endemic corruption in Mexico that has created a political crisis.
“I want to address the elephant in the room when it comes to Mexico,” she said, referring to the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa school in Guerrero.
Her song En Juárez, – where she was born and where her family still lives – speaks of the hundreds of women that have been killed there, an example of the mass violence Mexico is facing.
“There is a smell in the air
of someone who has died
Light the candle, hijita
Don’t come back late[…]
the night will catch up with you and I will not see you again”
En Juárez was orchestrated by Minna Choi, founder and director of the Magik Magik Orchestra, and will be performed Friday with the East Bay Symphony series Notes From Mexico.
Michael Morgan, conductor of the East Bay Symphony, will deliver a musical anthology of classical and folkloric Mexican music from the 20th century with a program including pieces by Agustin Lara, a piano concert by Carlos Chavez, Silvestre Revueltas and the Huapango by Jose Pablo Moncayo.
The Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno will also be featured.
Tickets for the 8 o’clock concert tomorrow at the Paramount Theater in Oakland are available here.