Heavy Angel: Mia Zapata exploring the living memory of a Seattle legend

By Margaret O’Neil Girouard

INTRODUCTION

Thesis on Mia Zapata

“I don’t need your social love I already feel misread enough…” Mia Zapata would probably find it ridiculous to be the subject of academic analysis. As a punk rock singer who loved the blues, Zapata was an old soul, an artist who loved to perform with her band The Gits, and spend time with her many friends. Yet she also cherished the solitude of hours spent alone in her room with her guitar, her easel and her journal. By all accounts she was a person who lived in the moment and walked to the beat of her own heart. Life interested her; people interested her; music interested her; art interested her. Theory did not, because for Mia Zapata, life was not meant to be analyzed. It was meant to be lived. Sadly, Zapata’s life was intense but all too brief. She died at age twenty-seven, an infamous age in the history of music industry tragedy. Unlike Janis Joplin, another fiery singer with a bluesy howl who never reached twenty-eight (and to whom she is often compared) Zapata’s life ended when she was on the brink of potential national success, rather than in the thick of it. Joplin and her celebrated contemporaries Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison (also dead at twenty-seven) and Zapata’s own contemporary Kurt Cobain, (dead at the same age less than a year after her death) achieved legendary status in the popular imagination after.

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