American Musicological Society, Inc.

Estela Diaz Knott

Estela Diaz Knott grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, daughter of a Scots-Irish factory worker, and a Mexican mother.  Estela’s family has been a beacon for migrant farmworkers and Spanish speaking immigrants for 50 years. As a child she was rooted in the clogging traditions of the Shenandoah Valley, as well as her mother’s musical traditions from the borderlands of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas.  As an adult, she has performed widely both throughout Appalachia and California, as well as in Veracruz, Mexico, and Lima, Peru. She studied son jarocho in Veracruz with Pablo Campechano Gorgonio and Zenen Zeferino, with whom she collaborated on the Virginia Humanities sponsored project, Mexilachian Son: New Songs from an Emerging Virginia Culture. She studied cajon with master afro-peruvian percussionist Chebo Ballumbrosio, and was a faculty member of La Tarumba, a circus arts school in Lima, Peru. She is a member of the Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Artist roster, and has received multiple grant awards from Virginia Humanities. 

She has performed and presented at many conferences dedicated to Appalachian and World music, including the National String Band Summit at Eastern Tennessee State University, the Rural Education Center Conference at Virginia Tech, the Berea College Festival of Traditional music, and the SOMOS conference at James Madison University. She has partnered with Dr. Sophia Enriquez to teach several workshops to university music education students on how to incorporate Mexilachian folk music concepts into their classrooms, including the Smithsonian Folkways World Music Pedagogy Course at West Virginia University.

She is also an important community organizer in Central Virginia, collaborating with immigrant advocacy groups, most notably Sin Barreras, to create C’ville Sabroso, a groundbreaking Latin music and dance festival. She has also been the lead organizer of Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Charlottesville, VA, efforts that were recognized when she was brought to James Madison University as a workshop leader for their event, Dialogues with History: Dia de los Muertos.

In 2021, Estela was chosen by the Mexican government as one of 40 Mexican American artists to participate in the 2nd Bi-national Conference for Artists of Mexican Origin based in the United States, in Mexico City.