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 the national press “la peregrine 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.
While her established base of fans still requests blues from time to time, nowadays, Mercedes has developed her own unique genre of music that blends the deep, raw passions of old blues with the cultural and sonic traditions of her home culture. Sung most in Spanish, she calls this genre “musical magical realism,” and it explores the stories, legends and characters which, if taken out of lyrical context, might have arisen from the hand of a writer like Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende or Miguel Ángel Asturias.
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 sountrack of Temblores (2019), a film directed by acclaimed Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante (Ixcanul, 2015).
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. As she will be collaborating with established national and international artists, and releasing a full-length Spanish language album of musical magical realism in the near future, 2019 is set to be her breakthrough year.