Light Up the Center Performer Spotlight: Fabiola Méndez
As part of GrubStreet's Light Up the Center event this year, we're hosting a special reception on Thursday, November 2nd, to celebrate and support GrubStreet's expansive writing community with exciting, multidisciplinary performances and a lively in-person gathering with food and drink.
With the theme of working for equity across the arts, this year’s Light Up the Center will feature GrubStreet writers as well as performances by Boston-based artists from diverse disciplines, like cuatrista, singer, composer, and educator Fabiola Méndez. Fabiola has taken part in a musical movement, crossing the lines of folkloric, jazz, and Latin genres and taking the listener on a journey through identities, cultures, and roots.
We recently caught up with Fabiola to ask her what guides her practice as an artist, why she's excited about joining our Light Up the Center event, her favorite book of all time, and more.
Watch Fabiola Méndez perform Allá en la altura
GrubStreet: Can you give us some context on your work and what guides your practice as an artist?
Fabiola Méndez: My artistic practice focuses on the exploration of my identities and culture. Because I play such a unique string instrument - the cuatro from Puerto Rico - a lot of what drives my practice is to explore the versatility of this instrument in various contexts, to provide people with educational tools to understand and connect with these styles of music, and to celebrate storytelling and community. Stylistically speaking, my music is a crossover between Puerto Rican folk music, jazz, and other Afro-Caribbean and Latin American genres, such as son, bolero, and bossanova.
GS: What is most exciting to you about participating in this multidisciplinary event surrounding social and racial justice? Why is coming together to witness these important works and conversation at GrubStreet meaningful and urgent?
FM: I am most excited about connecting with new audiences and sharing the stage with other artists whose work deeply inspires me. It isn't everyday that we get to witness many different art disciplines in the same space, and I believe allowing our body, mind and spirit to be a part of these gatherings brings us to a new level of awareness, love, and respect for one another's stories and experiences.
GS: Do you have a favorite book of all time? Or a top 3? And why?
FM: Forever a Potterhead... I've read and reread (multiple times, lol!) all the Harry Potter books. It's one of those stories that really caught my interest and feels like it accompanied me during my childhood and adolescence years, so now I hold it very close to my heart :) As an adult, Lighter by Yung Pueblo has been one that transformed my way of looking at life. Very powerful and with many practical tools.
GS: What are you currently reading, and/or listening to?
FM: I am currently reading Wherever you Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn and The Love Songs of W.E.B DuBois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. I've been listening to the music of Pablo Milanés, Gema y Pável, and Rosa Passos.