We asked Luz Elena Mendoza of Portland-based band Y La Bamba to create a playlist of songs from the heart—listen to “Mari-Posadas del Corazon” now!
Luz Elena Mendoza, the singer-songwriter at the helm of Portland-based band Y La Bamba, gracefully embraces her roots in her music, infusing traditional American folk with Latin rhythms. Originally born in San Francisco to Mexican parents of indigenous Purépecha descent from Michoacan, Mexico, the family eventually settled in Portland, where Mendoza would go on to cultivate her skills as a songwriter and bring forth Y La Bamba. Mendoza’s bicultural identity is both honored and challenged in her songwriting, creating the imitable sound that she’s spent the last decade cultivating.
Earlier this year, Y La Bamba released their fifth full-length, Mujeres—the first release self-produced by Mendoza. In September, the band followed up with Entre Los Dos, a seven-song EP sparked by Mendoza’s recent move to Guadalajara, Mexico
We asked Mendoza to creature a She Shreds exclusive playlist of songs that have had a profound effect on her history, identity, and songwriting. Listen to her playlist, “Mari-Posadas del Corazon,” and read Mendoza’s song-by-song musings below.
“Mari-Posadas del Corazon” by Luz Elena Mendoza
“Detalles (Detalhes)” – Roberto Carlos
This song reminds me of my mother swaying her hips back and forth as we mopped the floors with towels using our feet. This is one of many memories I have from childhood. Weekend jams with my parents, the soundtrack of my life.
“Ingratos Ojos Míos” – El Palomo Y El Gorrión
This song is sung deep with nostalgia. An entire room will be singing this song from the top of their lungs. There is so much attached to this music that brings me down to my knees. The songs de mis raizes, el canto de mis ancestros. The stories that were sung about love, life, suffering. The way to emote about it all. Loss, romance, sadness. These duets are so beautiful and full of emotion.
“Pobreza Fatal” – Grupo Miramar
This song reminds me of the quinceñeras, bailes, bodas—any sort of gathering where families are in celebration. With hired norteño, grupero, mariachi, cumbia bands, the nights would unfold into joy, and sometimes drunken behavior would turn sour. The sounds that came from this era of music is hella nostalgic. The keys, the syncopated guitars. It reminds me of lying on those plastic chairs with leftover smells of rice and beer on the tables. Loud ringing music that would play for hours late in the early morning.
“Love and Death” – Ebo Taylor
This is a new song to me, brought to my attention on a trip I took to San Panch with a dear friend named Abraham. I recently moved to Mexico, have been living in Guadalajara, and have been traveling around Jalisco this past year. The repetition of rhythm through this song is so infectious and feels so familiar. I am so deeply connected with this movement. I guess it’s about the place that I am in, either if it’s physically, spiritually, mentally—this song plays the role of strong companion.
“Por Que Me Mentiste” – Irene Rivas
I just love this song. I love her cadence and delivery. I didn’t know of her growing up, but I came across Irene Rivas as I was searching more female Mexican musicians from my parents era. Meanwhile, surrounded by so much musical beauty, she is someone that I am super stoked to find. I am always taken aback by how much more is out there. So much music to hear from so many years ago that hasn’t reached my ears and heart yet. It’s just a never-ending self exploration.
“Ojitos Verdes” – Dueto Las Palomas
I know I am adding a lot of the oldies, but they are goodies. This is straight up what I grew up listening to. This song in particular reminds me of my family from Michoacan. This song is everything to me. This song is Mexico to me. While people were listening to the Beatles, the Ramones, Simon and Garfunkel, I was listening to the traditional music that has shaped my heart. This song is how I’ve learned to express myself. It is the deep root where my intention speaks and moves in the world.
“Saudades de Luanda” – Os Keizos
My friends introduced me to this group… no pos gauo… I love the orchestration and the pulse of life that is within it. It’s so powerful, and to me this is true sound… an honest way of living life. I love cumbia, rhumba, palm wine, hi-life, calypso—it’s what connects me to move my body.
“No Volveré” – Chavela Vargas
Timeless… I feel like Chavela has been inviting me to hear her call. It’s spirits like hers that have helped me in the roughest times of my life. Through her lyrical manifestations I have been able to feel validation. I feel que somos repeticiones de nuestros antepasados. This song in particular has no limits or walls. It’s exactly what needs to be conveyed to the world. A vulnerable power.
“Negrura” – La Lupe
Speaking about moving elements. La Lupe in this song… dang. She brings up so much in my life. The unapologetic way of being. I can go on and on about what her music does to me. This song is, well, straight to the point. There is no time to live in fear and hide what you feel.
“Abre las Manos” – Devendra Banhart
I have been following his music since I was 22. I was thrilled to hear another person singing in Spanish. It was inspiring to hear someone expressing themselves in that way. It was one of the first times I heard anything like it. This song is one of many of his that continues to affect me. Even though we have different cultural upbringings, it continues to encourage me to share my identity and culture through sound.