Denise Carlos, MSW is a lyricist, lead vocalist and jaranera for the East L.A. band Las Cafeteras, who have increasingly gained national recognition for their vibrant musical fusion of Afro-Mexican/ East L.A. sounds and socially-conscious message. Recently featured on Democracy Now! , Denise and Las Cafeteras utilize music as a means for marginalized communities to heal, claim space and re-tell their own stories through a power-lens.
Denise is a proud Chicana daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born and raised in (South East) Los Angeles. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Los Angeles with an emphasis on women and children and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Loyola University, Chicago where she focused her career in community mental health. Before fully committing herself as a professional musician and dancer, Denise served as the Coordinator of the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center at CSULA for 6 years where she provided counseling services and programs around Gender-identity, feminism, ethnic identity, and assisted in increasing powerful spaces for LGBTQ students on campus.
Denise has been dancing Mexican Folklórico since she was 15 years old, and playing music for the last 14 years. As an artivist, she works on the daily to help develop critical thought around community feminisms, Chicana identity, and building with various communities of color through dance and musical expression. Denise offers authentic explorations of wellness, storytelling and movement as a form of liberation, for self and community.