Meet Alice Valdez, a local musician providing art programming for underserved communities

HOUSTON – For some students in Houston, music, art, dance or theater programming may not always be available in school. However, one community-based non-profit organization is committed to underserved youth and adults in the city.

Known as the Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA), the organization founded by Alice Valdez provides cultural programming, education resources, community building and events to more than 4,000 students and families each year.

With a mission to help build discipline, self-esteem and cultural pride, MECA founder and Executive Director Alice Valdez has proudly served our community for more than 40 years.

Alice Valdez
Alice Valdez (Copyright Forest Photography 2019.)

Born in El Paso, Texas, Alice Valdez began her music career in elementary school.

“My mother decided that all of us were going to play instruments,” recalled Valdez, founder of MECA.

Valdez began with the clarinet and picked up the oboe in middle school. It wasn’t until college when she began focusing on her career in music with the help of her college professor.

“I started taking oboe lessons from Mr. Henderson from the University of Texas-El Paso. He was the theory teacher and the oboe teacher there,” stated Valdez. “He was just such a strong influence and such a wonderful educator that he really influenced me to go study art and music education.”

Alice Valdez at a MECA event
Alice Valdez at a MECA event (Pin Lim, Forest Photography)

With a dedication to the arts and music education, Valdez would begin a new opportunity in Houston with a focus on minorities and underprivileged communities in the Sixth Ward.

“Some schools had a band, some schools had orchestras, some schools didn’t have a band or orchestras. All they had was maybe visual art and general music,” said Valdez. “Obviously, the suburban schools had much stronger programs, and the inner city programs where