Home Music Sarah La Morena: Powered by music

Sarah La Morena: Powered by music

On Instagram, Sarah Palafox recently posted a sentimental slideshow of photos that captured her relationship with her parents. There’s a standard graduation photo and numerous from childhood, including one with Palafox sinking into sand recently softened by a wave, her mother holding her hand for support. The series is an ode to National Adoption Month; it even starts with a photo of the first day she and her parents met. 

Pulling artistry from culture

Better known as singer Sarah La Morena, Palafox is herself a mom to two sons and keeps the spirit of music alive in her house, as well as her own career. 

“As soon as we wake up, I put everything into a song. When my toddler needs to clean up, there’s a song for that,” she said. “Music is just in my day-to-day life… To me I just don’t see it as work or a job because it’s just what I love to do.” 

Palafox, who is Afro-Latina, was born in Southern California and entered the foster care system as a baby. She was ultimately cared for and then adopted by the Palafox family, who raised her with three sisters in Zacatecas, Mexico. She recalls early mornings milking cows with her dad and spending a lot of time with cousins. By age 9, the Palafoxes moved to the United States. 

Toward the end of summer, Palafox went viral on both Instagram and Twitter, garnering the attention of celebrities like Sara Ramirez and Gael García Bernal. The video features the impressive strength of her vocals and, of course, an affirmation of her talent by resounding cheers. However, as with most popular internet posts, racist comments followed. 

“There’s nothing I can do besides educate people and ignore it.”

Family first, always

Cultural tradition carries on in Palafox’s home. She explained her toddler is bilingual and always helps with cooking and caring for his brother. In an Instagram video, Palafox sweeps the floor to the rhythm of background music, her sons nearby. “Yes, I’m keeping the tradition with my kids to play cumbias while we clean.” 

“I’m super family-oriented, that’s a big thing in our culture. I just try and do the same for my kids,” she said. “In motherhood, I feel like the culture is just coming down generations and it’s going to continue with my kids.” 

Music so runs through Palafox’s life that she even has a tattoo of the late singer Selena Quintanilla. Inspired by her energy and breaking down of barriers, she is inked with a portrait of the Tejano singer with a microphone. 

With Dia de Los Muertos on her mind, Palafox had a last minute idea to record and make a video for “La Llorona” in time for the holiday. With astounding efficiency, her team pulled it all off in just a few days. Palafox sings in front of a lake, donning a black ball gown and magnificent flower crown of yellow and orange, accented by marigold earrings.

“I had my baby with me and we hiked all the way up and there was this pretty lake. By the time we got done shooting that part, we had to hike all the way down and I had my huge dress,” she said. “It was crazy, but it was a lot of fun”

Under the Sarah La Morena moniker, Palafox has a slew of singles out, including this year’s “Hasta La Miel Amarga.” It’s just enough to carry listeners until the release of her first EP, which will be a series of covers. Though she can’t say much about what’s to follow, Palafox hints that she’ll be switching things up for EP number two. 

“I want to continue to break barriers. I wanna show that we’re confined to what everybody thinks we should sing,” she said. That’s the goal with my music— to just continue to do what I love and touch people with my music.” 

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Haley Bosselman
Haley Bosselman is the editor-in-chief of Culturas. She grew up in Orange County and moved to Los Angeles after earning her bachelor's degree in journalism from Arizona State University. In May 2020, Haley completed the Master of Science in journalism program at the University of Southern California. She's written a lot about music, but is geared toward any culture-related storytelling.
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