By Paulina Rojas
Editor’s note: Alma Ochoa is a Purépecha musician based out of the Eastern Coachella Valley. The Purépecha are a group of indigenous people originally from the state of Michoacan in Mexico. Their presence in the Eastern Coachella Valley dates back to around the 1970s, when few Purépecha spoke Spanish. Over the years the community struggled with both linguistic and cultural isolation. Ochoa, who sings in her native language, is one of only a few female Purépecha singers. She recently performed at The Hue Festival in Mecca, Calif. Coachella Uninc. program associate and reporter, Paulina Rojas sat down with Ochoa to find out how she helps preserve Purépecha culture.
Q: How long have you been producing Purépecha music?
A: About three or four years ago, I got inspired to start recording my own music. About two years ago, I recorded my first music video and a few months ago I released it on YouTube.
Q: What was the initial feedback like?
A: I wasn’t expecting so many people to like it. I was surprised, but I am happy that so many people are enjoying it.
Q: What inspired you sing in Purépecha instead of Spanish or English?
A: Most of the people that sing pirekuas (traditional music from Michoacan) are men and I wanted to change that … so that women might feel encouraged to make this music as well. With my music I hope to inspire young women to start doing the same. I also want preserve my culture in some way. Little by little we are losing parts of it due to the fact that it is being mixed with Spanish. I want to keep our culture alive so future generations can have the knowledge of what Purépecha culture is.