Margarita “Doña Margot” Rivera García (1909–2000) was a black working-class Puerto Rican woman whose labor as a composer, healer, midwife, and spiritual medium made her an esteemed community leader among her neighbors from Santurce, a predominantly black enclave in San Juan. Through her bomba and plena compositions, she helped forge modern black Puerto Rican music amid the rapid industrialization of Puerto Rico after the 1950s. However, her story has been overshadowed by the aura of her son, the legendary Afro–Puerto Rican singer Ismael “Maelo” Rivera (1931–87). Although Doña Margot is praised as a maternal figure who gave Maelo the gift of rhythm, her story as a woman and artist has remained widely unheard. This essay examines her parallel presence and erasure in salsa historiography, taking her testimonios about her musical gift as offering a counternarrative that defies masculinist music histories and serves as a site of memory that endures erasure.

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