The Murder of Mia Zapata
The Killing of the Lead Singer of the Punk Rock Band The Gits Goes Cold For a Decade Before Justice is Served
“Mia Zapata was an extraordinary human being. She was a beloved friend, a gifted songwriter, musician, visual artist and performer. . . . We prefer to remember her friendship, talent, humor, and the incredible art and music she left to the world.” — Andy Kessler, Matt Dresdner, and Steve Moriarty of The Gits
In the 1990s, Seattle was Ground Zero for the grunge genre of rock. Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney and Candlebox were all leading the music movement from underground to prominence, but none was as big or as influential as Nirvana, who (the band and lead singer, Kurt Cobain) perfectly captured the sound, essence and angst of a generation. Diverse and trendy, Seattle was the perfect city to spawn these bands, as well as many others who were verging on mainstream success.
The Gits was one of those bands. Formed in 1986 at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, they took their name from a Monty Python skit and soon became known for the fiery performances of Andy Kessler on guitar, Matt Dresdner on bass, Steve Moriarty on drums and Mia Zapata singing.
Brought up in Kentucky, Mia, the third child and second daughter in her family, was a born performer and from her youth, she seemed to know that she was destined for a musical future. She began singing at an early age, often astounding listeners with her throaty voice, reminiscent of Janis Joplin, one of Mia’s idols. By the time she was nine, she had taught herself how to play the piano and the guitar. As a teen, she kept a notebook into which she wrote poetry that eventually became song lyrics.
Although her family was considered well off, Mia cared little for material things and focused instead on creative expression. Antioch, therefore, was a perfect college for her and one that not only enabled her to express herself but allowed her to find a musical community that she quickly affiliated herself with.
Two years after the Gits formed, they recorded and self-released an unofficial debut album. The following year, in 1989, they moved to Seattle to join the growing underground rock movement.