¡A Viva Voz! celebrates U.S. Latino art, culture on April 2

Pioneers in Cuba's rap scene, female MCs Las Krudas, Odaymara Cuesta, left, and Olivia Prendes began rapping about a decade ago. They left behind their life in Cuba, and now call Austin home.  Photo by Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman
Pioneers in Cuba’s rap scene, female MCs Las Krudas, Odaymara Cuesta, left, and Olivia Prendes began rapping about a decade ago. They left behind their life in Cuba, and now call Austin home.
Photo by Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman

The extraordinary range of U.S. Latino experiences translates into a rich mix of diverse cultural art works, from Afro-Mexican poetry to Chicano political cartoons. For more than a decade, the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas has been celebrating the diversity within U.S. Latino arts and culture with ¡A Viva Voz!

In its 13th edition, ¡A Viva Voz! will bring together Central Texas-based poets and spoken word artists to share unique perspectives on migration and identity on April 2 starting at 7 p.m.

Featured artists include Cuban hip-hop duo Las Krudas, Afro-Mexican poet and author Ariana Brown, educator and Third Root hip-hop collective member Marco Cervantes, and historian/poet/educator Teresa Palomo Acosta. Poet and playwright Celeste Guzmán Mendoza will moderate the event, which will include light refreshments.

¡A Viva Voz! began as a way introduce community members to the rich resources found at the Benson. “It continues to be important for those reasons, particularly as the Latina/o population increases in and around Austin,” according to Margo Gutiérrez, U.S. Latina/o Studies Librarian at the Benson Latin American Collection.

Find the Benson at Sid Richardson Hall Unit 1, 2300 Red River St., on the UT campus.

Austin honors Cesar Chavez legacy

 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, left, and Paul Chavez, son of Cesar Chavez, lead the 14th Annual Cesar E. Chavez "Si Se Puede!" March on Cesar Chavez Street on Saturday March 28, 2015.  Hundreds marched from the Terrazas Library to City Hall.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, left, and Paul Chavez, son of Cesar Chavez, lead the 14th Annual Cesar E. Chavez “Si Se Puede!” March on Cesar Chavez Street on Saturday March 28, 2015. Hundreds marched from the Terrazas Library to City Hall. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austinites walked alongside Paul Chavez, son of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, at this year’s “Si Se Puede!” March on Saturday, which started at the Terrazas Library and ended at the steps of City Hall with speeches, music and entertainment.

Austin American-Statesman reporter James Barragan wrote about how the march tied current issues to the labor leader’s fight.

Check out a photo gallery of scenes from the Cesar Chavez March by photographer Jay Janner.

Austin Selena fans, we want your photos!

We put out a call for Selena fans to snap an Instagram photo of themselves at the Selena mural at Lady Bird Lake, and we’ve received some great ones. But we need more Selena fans to submit their photos by Friday, so that we can create and share an online photo gallery in Selena’s honor. (You don’t have to dress up like her in the photo).

On March 31, it will have been 20 years since the death of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, but her music and legacy live on in the hearts of fans who watched her rise to fame and hoped to see her reach superstardom as a crossover artist.

Here’s how you can submit your photo:

Visit the Selena mural on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake. Find it on the west side of Pleasant Valley Road just south of the bridge over Longhorn Dam and across the street from the Krieg Softball Complex. Send us a photo of you and your friends by the mural and tag @austin360 on Instagram. Use the hashtags #SelenaForeverinATX. Your photos will appear in an online photo gallery and may also appear in print.

 

 

 

Austin’s César Chávez March to feature son of labor leader

Austin residents gather near an altar  created at the Cesar Chavez Memorial Sculpture at the Terrazas Library. Community  members gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez with a march down E. Cesar Chavez St. past Congress Avenue to Austin City Hall Plaza for a solidarity rally. Saturday, March 29, 2014. Valentino Mauricio/For American-Statesman
Austin residents gather near an altar created at the Cesar Chavez Memorial Sculpture at the Terrazas Library. Community members gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez with a march down E. Cesar Chavez St. past Congress Avenue to Austin City Hall Plaza for a solidarity rally. Saturday, March 29, 2014.
Valentino Mauricio/For American-Statesman

Paul Chávez, the son of the late labor leader Cesar Chávez, will be this year’s guest speaker at PODER’s 14th annual “Sí Se Puede” March this Saturday, March 28. Attendees will assemble at Terrazas Library (1105 E. Cesar Chavez St.) at 10 a.m. and march to City Hall Plaza, where there will be music, speakers and entertainment.

As we become more aware of where our food comes from and how it’s grown, let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of migrant farm workers who call Texas home and help nourish you and your family by laboring in the fields and canneries across the United States.

Every meal has a story, and when labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez advocated for migrant farmworker rights, he was also trying to ensure that all Americans have a safe food supply.

 

Top SXSW Latin Music Videos

Bomba Estereo performs at the Radio Day Stage at SXSW on Wednesday March 18, 2015.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Bomba Estereo performs at the Radio Day Stage at SXSW on Wednesday March 18, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

We danced. We blogged. And we shot videos, just for you. Check out some highlights from the diverse Latin music offerings at South by Southwest 2015.

Bomba Estereo performs at the Radio Day Stage at SXSW

The Recycled Instrument Orchestra of Cateura transforms trash to music

Mexican alternative rock band Centavrvs performs at the International Day Stage

Austin Samba School takes over downtown streets during SXSW

Spanish singer Daniel Carbonell ”Macaco”, during his performance at Sounds from Spain

Uruguayan rock-pop band Boomerang performs at Speakeasy during the Sounds from Uruguay showcase

 

 

 

SXSW Film Video Recap: Gloria Trevi to Guillermo del Toro

Photo by Marlon Sorto/ Ahora Si
Photo by Marlon Sorto/ Ahora Si

Cultura en Austin, the Austin 360 team and our Spanish-language partners, ¡Ahora Si! covered every inch of the South by Southwest Interactive and Film festival. Check out video highlights for some of the festival’s Latino-related events.

Mexican singer Gloria Trevi held a conversation with Leila Cobo, executive director for Latin Content & Programming in Billboard, during a session at South by Southwest prior to the premiere of “Gloria,” a movie based on her life.

Also, check out ¡Ahora Si! reporter Liliana Valenzuela’s column on Trevi’s SXSW conversation.

A Conversation with Ryan Gosling and Guillermo Del Toro

Filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz speaks about his film, Kingdom of Shadows, which seeks to unpack the complexities of the U.S-Mexico drug war through the lives of three people.

 

Sol Life brings culturally-rooted music to SXSW, launches record label

worldhood

Sol Collective, a Sacramento-based center dedicated to art, culture and activism, launched their new co-operative record label Sol Life at the Speakeasy on Saturday night. Bringing culturally-rooted music to the dance floor, the diverse line-up included socially conscious artists who performed everything from hip-hop to electronic fusions.

One of my favorite musical discoveries at the festival was World Hood, a husband-and-wife-duo who blend traditional rhythms with contemporary electronic beats. Having only caught the end of their set, I look forward to hearing more from them and hope the California group returns to Austin, especially since vocalist Estella Sanchez (aka Estrella Hood) also serves as Sol Collective’s executive director.

Quitapenas, a Riverside, California-based quartet that plays Afro-Latin music, brought one of the best dance parties I’ve seen at SXSW. The animated crowd constantly broke into chants and cheers, especially when the group invited an LA-based guest trumpet player to join them on stage to deliver an extra horn punch to their funky tropical sounds. After their performance, I overheard someone say, “That’s what I’ve been waiting for all week.”

Other Sol Life artists include Dre T, El Indio, Native Children, Seti X and Wise Child.

 

Paraguayan children make music from recycled instruments

Music has transformed the lives of an entire community in Paraguay after the launch of a unique project called the Recycled Instruments Orchestra of Cateura. Children who play in the chamber music orchestra, which is a showcasing act at South by Southwest, make music by playing instruments made out of trash.

In 2006, music director Favio Chavez launched the project as a motivational tool for the children of this impoverished community, which is located next to the Cateura landfill. Many of the children’s parents are trash pickers with limited resources, and some of the children have also picked trash themselves.

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Landfill Harmonic, the documentary that follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, also premiered at SXSW this week. In fact, it was during the filming of the documentary that filmmakers launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign and also posted a movie trailer. After the video went viral, the lives of the orchestra began to change when they suddenly had a global spotlight on them. They began receiving invitations to play internationally, forever changing how the children and community thought about recycled items, music and their future.

Cellist Noelia Rios, 14, comes from a family of trash pickers. “It’s beautiful how these doors have opened for me and my family that I never imagined,” she said in Spanish. Rios’ family used to live in a humble residence, and thanks to the orchestra gigs they’ve been able to move into a comfortable home.

Instruments made out of recycled materials. Photo by Reshma Kirpalani
Instruments made out of recycled materials. Photo by Reshma Kirpalani

“The most rewarding part for me has been seeing the kids grow, get scholarships and know that it’s worth it to take a risk,” Chavez said in Spanish. “They’ve not only stepped onto a musical stage, but onto the stage of life.”

Director Brad Allgood says the film will screen at upcoming festivals in New York and Washington, DC, and hopes to have a theatrical release as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SXSW Interview: On the Spot with Irene Diaz

Singer/songwriter Irene Diaz is among the showcasing artists at SXSW. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman
Singer/songwriter Irene Diaz is among the showcasing artists at SXSW. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman

It’s easy for some artists to get drowned out in the noise of more than 2,000 official acts at South by Southwest. So when a singer creates an atmosphere where you can truly be present, music magic happens. That was the case with rising Los Angeles’ singer/songwriter Irene Diaz Friday night at the Flamingo Cantina.

Outside the venue’s doors, a raucous Sixth Street crowd swarmed. But inside, Diaz centered the spirit with her soulful, moving songs that seemed to stop time.

Irene Diaz captivates SXSW crowd at Flamingo Cantina. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman
Irene Diaz captivates SXSW crowd at Flamingo Cantina. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman

Not too long ago, Diaz, 28, was figuring out her life’s path as a college student, unsure of what direction she should take. “I’ve been playing music all my life, but I never thought I could do it (professionally),” Diaz says. “It just didn’t seem feasible.”

But in 2011, she made a leap of faith that felt right and immersed herself in the music world. She put her studies on hold and has crafted her own path, one that’s already taken her to unexpected places. In 2012, Diaz’ song “I Love You Madly” was featured on NPR’s Alt Latino program, which helped put her music career on an upward trajectory.

Diaz, who is often described as a modern day torch singer, says she taught herself to sing by listening to artists like Ella Fitzgerald. And when she later developed a keen interest in film noir, she says that’s the direction she wanted to take her “I Love You Madly” EP.

Although she’s been embraced by the Latin alternative scene, Diaz says she doesn’t want her music to be “pigeonholed.” Her English-language songs don’t have any strong influences of Latin rhythms, but they are passionate, she says.

When she began getting attention as a Latina artist, she questioned at one point whether she should start singing in Spanish. But Diaz, who is the third generation in her family to be born in the U.S., didn’t grow up speaking Spanish and doesn’t want to “feel pressure to represent Latin roots,” she says. “I’m automatically representing by being who I am…maybe there needs to be a voice for someone like me.”

As Diaz continues to rise in the indie music world, she has her eyes set on growing as an artist. She still struggles with stage fright, (which you wouldn’t know from her stunning performances), and says she’s figuring out how to best deal with that. She’s also eager to learn more about producing, and eventually wants to produce all her own albums. Diaz’s first full-length album is in the works, and music lovers should keep an eye on what the future holds for this promising young artist.

 

 

Macaco moved fans to dance, sing in the rain

Macaco fans capture his last SXSW performance under umbrellas.
Macaco fans capture his last SXSW performance under umbrellas.

Armed with umbrellas, rain coats and ponchos, enthusiastic festivalgoers didn’t let the wet stuff get in the way of making their South by Southwest experience memorable at the outdoor midnight showcase with Spanish international pop star, Macaco, at Lucille Patio Bar.

Fans spilled outside of a small tent. Crew members covered up speakers and electrical equipment before the closing night Sounds from Spain party, which had also featured five other Spanish bands earlier in the night.

Fans brought their rain gear to the soggy but spirited concert.
Fans brought their rain gear to the soggy but spirited concert.

After catching a scaled-down version of his show during a Wednesday day party, Macaco proved to be an early favorite for me, and I knew his full-blown act was not to be missed. Macaco lived up to the hype.

Dani Carbonell, the charismatic Barcelona-based frontman, approaches music with a global perspective that melds popular music with elements of reggae and rumba catalana. His set included hits from large catalog as well as his latest single “Hijos de Un Mismo Dios.” Backed by stellar bandmates, Macaco brings both musicianship and showmanship to performances that included fun moments with Carbonell showing off his mouth trumpet skills and engaging the audience with call and response sing alongs.

Macaco ended the performance with a show highlight – an extended version of his song “Tengo,” which also included some synchronized dance moves with the entire band. Cheers erupted. Unfortunately, Macaco was told he couldn’t perform an encore and audiences left chanting, “Otra! Otra!”