Zoila Martinez Loeza was born in Colonia Obrera of Mexico City on September 1st of 1979. Her parents Zoila Loeza Sanchez and Dagoberto Martinez Hernandez, originally from Veracruz, and younger sibling Betsy Martinez Loeza; her godparents Manuel Barreiro Testas and Carmen Barreiro de Barreiro (both diseased) from Galicia, Spain (who lived in Venezuela and later in Mexico) were the only family that Zoila shared with in her early stages of life and her godparents specially were a key influence on her since she was considered by the Barreiros as their own daughter. Zoila is profoundly thankful for her godparents, as she verbally states she owes them all the great moral and spiritual values, they impacted her up to the point to achieve her professional goals, cultural enrichment and formation.
Zoila started her musical training at the early age of four when her father placed her for the first time in front of an organ and enrolled her in the Yamaha Music Academy under the studio of professor Guadalupe Villar Quijano, where she passed all the children’s courses available at the time. She was summited under constant stress for her father strived for Zoila’s excellence, she did not have a common childhood up to the point she no longer enjoyed playing music and wanted to quit. However, she continued her studies with solid discipline and her classic music studies led her to develop an excellent sense of music theory, performance, aural skills, and that allowed her to be part of the National Music Conservatory from Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) in Mexico City when she was only ten years of age. Along with the great pressure and responsibility of the conservatory studies, Zoila kept going to middle school. At age eleven she continued in Escuela Superior de Música from INBA now under the studio of Alicia Velazquez.
At age seventeen Zoila switched from classical studies to what at the time was referred as Taller de Jazz (Jazz Workshop) with professor Francisco Tellez and the following year the career was renamed as Bachelor in Jazz.
At the time, this was Zoila’s closest approach to reach her dream of getting introduced to the world of Salsa music and she considered that learning how to play jazz would give her the skills to become a better-prepared musician when transitioning from classical music to Salsa. Her desire and determination of playing this Salsa became confirmed when she first listened to maestro Papo Lucca in a recording of Orquesta Guayacán, from Colombia, where he played a piano solo in a danzón Almendra that left her mesmerized. After that her perception of what she wanted to do as a musician started to make sense. Classical music was too strict and she even laughs when she remembers her piano teachers telling her not to dance when playing piano. Breaking free from the rigid classical methods lead her closer to her dream. In November 1998 Zoila and her classmates from Escuela Superior de Musica were to the lobby of Hotel Plaza Madrid in Mexico City to try to meet her idol, they were waiting for long time and She acert, he Papo Lucca arrived and accepted humble and kind enough to answer all the questions Zoila and her classmates asked him for more than two hours, Papo Lucca performed live at Salon Los Angeles with La Sonora Ponceña and she could not contain her emotions and started crying. This concert marked her life.
With this new incentive Zoila continued her studies and acquired new skills in musical arrangement, improvisation, instrumentation, and kept crafting her salsa playing abilities. She looked for extra help on the side on musicians who were proficient at the time and promised to help, but that help never came. However, instead of feeling discouraged, Zoila developed skills on her own by listening salsa music from morning to evening.
The very first time she “dared” to play this music style was with a youth orchestra called Orquesta Caña Blanca; this experience led her to be in contact with Cuban music and “Salsa Boricua”, falling in love with salsa even more yet encountering some challenges of keeping up with tho schools the regular and Music education and late night gigs.
As time went by, Zoila was invited to play with different Mexican Salsa orchestras despite the male chauvinist comments by different band mates and colleagues who unsuccessfully tried to dissuade her from audition to such bands. Zoila was able to be part of the most recognized Mexican Salsa bands such as La Constelación of Jorge Suarez, La Nueva Familia, Orquesta Stevens, who generally accompanied salsa stars who came to tour in Mexico.
It was with La Constelación that she had her first close up with international Salsa by accompanying Puerto Rican singer El Niño Bonito Ismael Miranda, who acknowledged and thanked her for her outstanding job; in this same concert other important bands such as La Sonora Ponceña, Andy Montañez, Cheo Feliciano and Rey Ruiz were also part of the lineup. Surprisingly for Zoila, Papo Lucca reached for Zoila and told her “Now you are going to play with me”, a blessing and a beautiful opportunity for Zoila who could not believe his words. According to her, she never understood why –and never questioned why- she was blessed in such manner but that night she played a solo while Andy Montañez was interpreting the song “Ahora Si” and he was mesmerized by her playing he even exclaimed “Look who is playing the piano, Zoila!” That leap of faith Papo Lucca had towards her brought her the respect and admiration of many musicians in this genre and opened the door to play for more important stars in the Salsa music industry such as Ismael Miranda, Hansel, Cuco Valoy, Ray Pérez, Tania, Gali Galeano, Maelo Ruiz among many others. Many more international latin orchestras from Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia based in Mexico started calling her and she got to learn from her more experienced colleagues along the way, increasing her skills and also her status. At this point she was not only studying at Escuela Superior de Música and making a living out of salsa playing but taking advantage and taking private lessons with artists such as Jose Torres, Mario Patrón, and music arrangement and composition lessons with maestro Cesar Molina.
Every time that Papo Lucca had a presentation in Mexico with Sonora Ponceña he would invite her to play and even in Puerto Rico. Porfi Baloa y Sus Adolescentes had her playing on stage with them in concerts in Mexico and Venezuela; Bobby Valentin would invite her to play in his concerts in Mexico and Luisito Carrión had her playing in Las Fiestas de La Calle de San Sebastian in Puerto Rico in 2013.
In August of 2012 Zoila had the big responsibility of filling the shoes of Papo Lucca; due to a health emergency issue she was asked to sub for him in a concert playing with the iconic orchestra Puerto Rico All Stars in Mexico City. She played impeccably all the arrangements first sight-reading all the music with no previous rehearsals. Supported by Louis García, director of the band, the managers and entrepreneurs Richie Viera, Raphie Cartagena and the band members they trusted Zoila’s talent and despite of the stressing moment she was able to shine and perform flawlessly all Papo Lucca’s arrangements and share the stage with many artists she admired and dreamed of playing for a long time.
When Zoila visited Papo Lucca at the clinic he not only congratulated and compensated her but he also welcomed her to the “big leagues”. She was the first Mexican female pianist every played with the Puerto Rico All Stars.
In 2013 Zoila recorded her first album “Influencias Homenaje al Maestro Papo Lucca” in Puerto Rico at Pianíssimo Records where she produced, composed, arranged, played and even sang under the tutelage of her now musical godfather Papo Lucca who not only gave her his blessing but the support of his own band who kindly accepted to play for Zoila’s production. This album includes a special theme entitled “Influencia 180, Homenaje al Maestro Papo Lucca” who gave origin to the name of the album and in which Zoila plays with his idol, crystalizing this moment to posterity. “Influencias Homenaje al Maestro Papo Lucca” is according to Zoila a way to pay respects, tribute, and thankfulness to the musician who literally changed her destiny as a Salsa piano player not only by inspiring her to play differently but for all the amazing opportunities she was able to reach through the very first chance the Piano Man gave her to prove herself in front of other icons of this genre and shine on her own. She feels specially thankful with the support of Edwin Rosas, vocalist of La Sonora Ponceña and his wife Gabriela Nadal “Nana”, owner of the rights of the Puerto Rico All Stars.
In 2014 Zoila moved by personal reasons and also the sudden inexplicable lack of gigs in Mexico decides to leave Mexico and move to New York City. Advised by the now diseased Luis Angel Silva “Melon” a Mexican sonero signed with Fania Records, she felt the need to follow this words “Leave peacefully, you have nothing to lose, trust yourself, keep going, what is for you will soon arrive, be patient, prepare yourself for the good and the bad; There will be people who will criticize you, they’ll try to throw you off, disqualify your talent, but be strong, I know you can do it”. She borrowed money from her only sister Betsy, pawned all her jewelry –and later recovered- and with almost zero English chops and two suitcases full of dreams off she went with “faith in God as my only guaranty” she states.
On May 30th of 2014 Zoila arrived the Big Apple after making a stop in Puerto Rico to celebrate the 60th anniversary of La Sonora Ponceña and to receive their blessings. And it sure worked out; She stepped into New York City with the right foot since she started playing with some of the recognized salseros of the scene. The first one who opened the doors to her was El Sonero del Barrio, Frankie Vazquez, who she knew from his visits to Mexico when played together with “Puerto Rico All Stars” and immediately called her to play with his band Saborioco, putting Zoila at a display for other musicians to listen to her playing and was consequently called to play with many of the NY salsa personalities such as Ray Bayona, Herman Olivera, Pequeño Johnny, Raulin Rosendo, Conjunto Chaney, Conjunto Imagen, El Montuno, Grupo Arcano, among others.
In February of 2015 Zoila recorded her first two videos of two themes of her first album: “Influencia 180 Homenaje a Papo Lucca” and “Mi Gran Amor” at the famous Congahead Studios owned by Martin Cohen, founder of LP Latin Percussion.
Zoila arranged her own band with some of the best salsa exponents: Anibal Martinez, Cheito Quiñones, Justin Angel (RIP), Hommy Ramos, Alex Apolo Ayala, Richie Flores, Carly Maldonado, Renzo Padilla, Chuito Quintero, Manuel Marquez, Leo Gruber, Engel Contreras, rising stars of the new generation of salsa; also her best friend and amazing Mexican trombonist Rey David Alejandré, and the Spanish singer and best friend Noemi Perez Segura who supported her since her arrival to the city along with Richie Flores.
In August 26th of 2015 Zoila makes her official Album Release Party at the West Village of NYC at Club Subrósa, a club that was a branch from Blue Note more focused on Latin music. She again had her band and featured Richie Flores on percussion and was honored to have salsa personalities of great importance in the public. Among them were Bobby Valentin, Eddie Montalvo and Arturo Ortiz, former musical director of Ricky Martin’s band, Marc Anthony and Seis del Solar, and who became Zoila’s piano teacher and an amazing support for Zoila.
In August of 2016 the pianist was invited to perform with her band at the Jazz Forum Arts 7th Annual Sunset Jazz at Lyndhurst concert series by Mark Morganelli, executive director and founder of Jazz Forum Arts in Territown; this was the first time Zoila would expose her music to a 100% American audience. After this concert Zoila had to pause her career due to a serious medical condition that deprived her to keep a “normal” life up to this date.
In April of 2017 she retook her career and recorded her third and fourth music videos at Congahead Studios of themes “Nuestra Historia” and “La Salsa Solamente Es Una”. This same year she debuts at Teatro Pregones as piano accompanist at the play “El Bolero Fue Mi Ruina” based in the story “Loca de la Locura” from Puerto Rican author Manuel Ramos Otero, directed by Jorge Merced thanks to the invitation of the pianist Desmar Guevara.
In August of this same year Zoilapianista, as she is now known artistically, was included in the exhibition of the SPAHA Salsa Gallery Museum at El Barrio in New York City by Johnny Cruz donating the outfit she wore at her first two music videos to be exposed along with belongings of other amazing Salsa stars. In addition to the musicians mentions previously, Zoila gives special thanks to the support of many fellow musicians such as musical Godfather Papo Lucca/Sonora Poncheña, Richie Flores, Arturo Ortiz, Nelson Gonzalez, Luisito Quintero, Maelo Ruiz, Carmen D Lucca (writer) Bobby Allende, Ruben Rodriguez, Jose Rivera (Assamblyman) Martin Cohen LP (Latin Percussion and Congahead owner) Paoli Mejias, Bronx Music Heritage Center, Bobby Sanabria, Elena Martinez, Franklyn T Grant ( Filmmaker) and more for their professional and emotional support since she moved to United States. USA Immigration has given Zoilapianista Extraordinary Ability talent visa; such visa is given only to the artists that have passed various tests based on their talent.
In November 2019 released her single Zoilapianista Trio “PERO ESTO YO NO LO MEREZCO” where she features PuertoRican bassist Alex “Apolo” Ayala and Chuito Quintero in a new phase where Zoila adventures herself in genders like R&B, ballad and World Music. In November 2020 released her single “LA BIKINA” with her Salsa Band.
In 2021 Zoila where included in the book “EN CLAVE” a chronologically trails of Salsa and related Rhythms though the life of 77 female artist throughout the world from 1870-1990 by Saul Delhom. Spain, This book acknowledges the importance of key women in the music world mostly dominated by men. The book shares their biographic background and how they dabble in this genre and Zoila is proudly the only Mexican female musician, composer and arranger in these book.
In 2022 Zoila was awarded by Salsa Superior like the best pianist 2022 celebrating in the Spanish Harlem Salsa Gallery of New York. In November 02,2022 she released her latest single “LO PASADO, PASADO” with her Salsa Band where the Mexican Arranger and pianist Andres Lara colaborated.
Zoila is member of SGAE Spanish General Society of Authors and Editors and ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
She is current musical director of the worship choir Cecilia’s Chur in Spanish Harlem, Zoila compossed the Santa Cecilia Anthem to commemorate of 150 Anniversary Church that will be celebrating in 2023. She is also Piano teacher with the Afro Latin Jazz music program founded for Arturo O’ Farril. Zoila is currently playing with different groups and projects and with her Salsa Band 11 pieces, Septet, Quartet, Trio and Piano Solo and promoting her work independently and She is working in collaboration with other great Salsa exponents like “Son Divas” from Puerto Rico where Zoila recorded in their first album in 2022 and many more.
Zoilapianista has been known for her grate audacity and personality since she has been a grate example of an advocate of women’s rights who defeated herself many stereotypes and myths of the impossible and unimaginable in accordance to od beliefs towards women in music. She’s been able to accomplish her professional goals against all odd: A Mexican female musician who plays salsa music in an all-male dominated atmosphere has not been an easy challenge, yet her intelligence, perseverance, transparency, honesty, talent and strong spiritual beliefs and God have helped to accomplish such a hard working path. Despite of a health issue (adenomyosis and endometriosis) that has haunted her for almost ten years. Since she moved to New York City keeping her from performing on a regular basis when her most delicate stage on health she did no lose focus and even from that experience has gotten the inspiration to create and give herself to music.
Zoilapianista is a Mexican pianist supported abroad.
Copyright © 2020 Zoilapianista - All Rights Reserved.