Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Born in South Texas to a Chicano activist and an Italian American VISTA volunteer, Tony (Tacoma) moved often growing up. Music and language became constant companions in decoding ever-changing cultural ecologies between South Texas, the Bay Area, and Tucson. This trajectory formed his calling to develop cultural dialogue and empathy. Tony specializes in not belonging anywhere, but making friends everywhere. Mestizaje – a mixed identity formed at the intersection of cultures – shapes his work as a musician, curator, educator, and producer. Having studied on four continents, he plays Afro-Latin, Mediterranean, and Arabic percussion. Previously a K12 teacher, he has served as an educator and curriculum writer for public television and is now the Education Manager at Tacoma Arts Live. Being a working musician is indivisible from being educator, an arts administrator, and a parent. The same heart that draws him to teach compels him to speak through the drum.

Antonio M. Gómez received a 2018 James W. Ray Venture Project Award for Raíz y Rama (Root and Branch), an effort to disrupt stereotypical notions of Mexican identity by exploring the complexity and diversity of Mexican musical traditions. The project centers on Trío Guadalevín and occurs in two parts: 1) An “encuentro” – encounter – with scholars and folklorists in Mexico City, including learning sessions and shared performance 2) A 5-day tour to provide bilingual performances in community venues and schools in Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, and Wenatchee. Mexico’s musical traditions are historic legacies: the reinvention of Indigenous music in Oaxaca; West African resilience in the son jarocho of Veracruz, Baroque forms realized in Nahuatl voices, medieval poetry developed in Spanish, descending from Arabic poetic traditions of Muslim Spain. The project spotlights this rich heritage even as it makes it widely accessible to all-age audiences across the state.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

I approach this honor with great humility and gratitude. Washington is home to a rich array of outstanding artists across all disciplines and it is my responsibility to honor their work by making the most of this incredible privilege. Likewise, I see my work as a calling, an urgency, to acknowledge the ancestors whose stories are wrapped up in our musical inheritance, to challenge audiences to find the Self in the Other, and to joyfully share a rich artistic and cultural legacy with young Washingtonians. I believe that the arts can be transformative in their ability to simultaneously tap intellect and heart. I'm very thankful for the investment in my work - shared with amazing collaborating artists like Abel Rocha and Gus Denhard - to facilitate this type of transformation.

Antonio M. Gómez