Nacha Men­dez,

Pasatiempo - - On­stage This Week -

thing called a con­tract. It’s so im­por­tant for all mu­si­cians to have them with venues, but for women, it’s al­most a must.”

Men­dez also be­lieves that younger women mu­si­cians of­ten give up with­out much of a fight. “They get frus­trated by that male per­sis­tence and cul­tural dom­i­nance, and I to­tally un­der­stand where they’re com­ing from,” she said, “but peo­ple, es­pe­cially mu­sic pro­duc­ers and bar own­ers, are more likely to sup­port a mu­si­cian who can stand up for her­self, you know what I mean? You have to have a be­lief in your­self and a strong vision of where you want your ca­reer to go. A lot of times girls will meet a pro­ducer who says, We can make you sound like this. What kind of cre­ative in­de­pen­dence is that? I think that’s one rea­son why va­ri­ety has served me well. Don’t stay in one style for too long. Chang­ing things up is al­ways good. It opens you up to new ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Men­dez de­scribes her mu­sic ca­reer in part as a se­ries of mi­nor and ma­jor suc­cesses (she was voted best fe­male vo­cal­ist in a reader poll by the Santa Fe Re­porter in 2009 and re­ceived a 1996 Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts com­poser fel­low­ship, for ex­am­ple), but she doesn’t dwell on tro­phy chas­ing. Her fo­cus is the mu­sic, not the ac­co­lades. “I ad­mit they’re nice,” she said, “but what I find is that the more I per­form, record, and prac­tice, the bet­ter I be­come as an artist. That sat­is­fac­tion is the most im­por­tant thing.”

Men­dez doesn’t think the terms “fe­male vo­cal­ist” and “women artist” are nec­es­sary or even help­ful in mod­ern so­ci­ety, and she thinks the world might be more ac­cept­ing of women in their ab­sence. “I’m not of­fended by the terms at all, but I think we could do with­out them in the long run. Cat­e­go­riz­ing mu­si­cians of all gen­der make-ups by the kind of mu­sic they play in­stead of by what their chro­mo­somes look like is a more prac­ti­cal ap­proach.”

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