Hoopla Hooper: Alma Verdejo

Contributor's Profile

Alma's Portrait

Rock Is Amor

I’ve been listening to music since the day I was born. My father used to sing songs to me, ranging from the Mexican equivalent to Mr. Rogers, El Cri Cri, to actually writing rhymes and songs for me. My favorite was, and still is, a song called “The Watermelon” or “La Sandia” that he wrote for me when I was four. I used to squeal and scream for the song, begging him to sing it whenever he had the chance and it stuck.

His deep-rooted passion for Mexican songwriters like Jose Alfredo Jimenez, one of the heralders of Mexican mariachi music, was what I grew up with, along with Los Tigres del Norte.

As a Mexican-American girl torn between being a Mexican and an American, it was an interesting musical scene for me from a very young age. Born and raised in Texas, I listened to various types of music. While I was listening to Michael Jackson, I was also being influenced by my mother’s love for Latin pop and Top 40, which included Rocio Durcal and Juan Gabriel (the Mexican Elton John). I was well immersed in Mexican and Latin American songwriters.

All of this changed when I was 13.

The year was 1994. Kurt Cobain had just died and that’s how I discovered him because his death was so influential in the rock world. I then began to attend and my new friend Tiffany introduced me to Nirvana, Green Day, Soul Collective, Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. The all rock station became my best friend and I delved deeper into the rock scene, lulled by their strong and loud message. RATM became my favorite band and 16 years later, still is.

My life also became consumed by rock and ska music, thanks to my pot-smoking cousin and his love for these genres. He really knew what music was and I felt a deep connection to the sound, the aggressiveness of the guitar and the beating of the drums. The louder it was, the better it was. I was obsessed with The Cranberries, later teaching myself the ways of country music with a growing obsession about Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, learned to appreciate rap music from my Texan peers and began to learn to dance cumbia.

While I still don’t know how to dance—it’s the curse of being a Mexican-American girl in love with rock music–I’ve opened up musical doors for myself. My love began with my father but I’ve been lucky enough to cultivate it to include Spanish rock, Spanish heavy metal and cumbia with some salsa. Writing became the other way I escaped. My imagination ran rampant when I was a child and I was known to spend my recess inside my third grade classroom reading books or writing.

This passion descended to covering local and national music for a local magazine in Houston, where I served as their music editor. I interviewed the likes of Duran Duran, Kings of Leon to a Palestinian hip hop group named DAM. I’d spend hours researching the birth of post-punk to the history of cumbia and norteño music.

New York City’s music scene is one that most cities strive to for the reason that it’s a melting pot of sounds. It’s the place to walk down the street and find salsa music blasting, and the next block has reggaeton While my hometown, Houston’s, music scene is growing, NYC’s scene is an interesting mash-up of rock, indie rock, pop, folk, salsa, cumbia, bachata, hip hop and rap that showcases the ever-changing musical landscape of this decade. In other words, a music lover’s dreams come true.