Virginia Lopez is passionate about her Afro-Cuban heritage – and she expresses that passion through her music. A drummer and percussionist, Ms. Lopez is the musical director of Melao de Cuba 100% Salsa Orchestra. Like all her creative pursuits, its purpose is to lift people’s spirits and to increase the public’s understanding of the range, beauty, and depth of Afro-Cuban culture and music.
Ms. Lopez is also founder of the eleven member female percussion group The Mambo Queens. Formed in Portland, Oregon, in 1994, The Mambo Queens’ repertory includes sacred music from the Yoruba tradition rendered on the bata drums, Afro-Cuban rumbas, lively comparsas, and music from the Congolese tradition in Cuba. The popular ensemble performs frequently at many Oregon venues, including schools and libraries, and annually at Women’s International Day and Gay Pride events.
Ms. Lopez was born in Cuba and has resided in the U.S. since she was 21 years old. She studied Afro-Cuban drumming with master drummer and recording artist Amelia Pedroso and other teachers in both Cuba and the United States. Ms. Lopez has taught at drum camps in California, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. She is also available as a solo percussionist and teacher. In addition to her career in music, Ms. Lopez is a full-time registered nurse. She has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from UCLA.