Bio

Growing up under the influences of Howlin’ Wolf, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and other blues legends from the first half of the twentieth century wasn’t easy in Guatemala, but it also wasn’t an obstacle for Mercedes Escobar. Her first live performance was at the age of thirteen. In the years that followed she kept on playing the blues, ultimately creating a space for the music in Central America, where she’s been dubbed by Guatemalan newspaper Siglo 21 “la peregrina del blues,” The Blues Pilgrim. Mercedes’ unique, raw, guttural –and at times even violent- vocals have often been compared to Janis Joplin and Chavela Vargas.

 

Mercedes has developed her own unique genre of music that blends the raw old blues with the cultural and sonic traditions of her home culture, calling this genre “musical magical realism”,

Mercedes first EP "The Blue Devil" was recorded at Winslow Ct Studios in Los Angeles, California with Grammy Award Nominee Craig Parker Adams. It was launched in December 2016. Her song "Sangre Negra" was a finalist in the Latin category of the 2016 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. She has since shared the stage with musicians such as Rubén Albarrán (Café Tacvba), Gaby Moreno, Jacobo Nitsch (Malacates Trébol Shop), Lenin Fernández (Alux Nahual), among others. 

 

Mercedes' music is featured in the soundtrack of Temblores (2019), a film directed by acclaimed Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante (Ixcanul, 2015), as well as two other full-length films yet to be released.

 

Mercedes, long a fixture in the underground musical world of Central America, has been preparing to venture out into the mainstream since her early teens. She will be collaborating with established national and international artists, and releasing a full-length magical realism-themed album in Spanish and English in the near future (recording postponed due to COVID-19).


Using her music influence, Mercedes organized the first Antigua Pride event in her adoptive hometown of Antigua, and was appointed "Ambassador Against Violence Against Women and Girls" by United Nations Guatemala in 2019.

© 2020 Mercedes Escobar