Posts Tagged ‘singers’

I fell in love with Oaxaca the first time I saw her when visiting a friend in 2007.  The city was teeming with energy and color and I felt embraced by its welcoming warmth. The day after my arrival, the sounds of Trío Santo Domingo drew us down to the zócalo on a balmy August evening. I was captivated by the melodies, guitars, and harmonies of the boleros they played. I bought their CD  and discovered many of my favorites were written by beloved Mexican composer and Oaxaqueño, Álvaro Carrillo AlarcónSabor a Mí, El Andariego, Luz de Luna, Un Poco Más, Amor Mío, and so many more. His music captured my heart and continues to nourish my soul.

Bust of Álvaro Carrillo Alarcón in Oaxaca’s Jardín Carbajal includes lyrics from “Sabor a Mí”

Thus, two months ago, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a concert honoring the musical legacy and celebrating the 100th birthday of Álvaro Carrillo Alarcón. The performers paying tribute to him were among Mexico’s most loved and were accompanied by a full orchestra and the guitars and harmonies of Trío Los Panchos. They did not disappoint!

In addition to the above singers, Jean Venegas and Álvaro Carrillo’s sons, Mario Carrillo and Álvaro Carrillo Jr., also performed. Young and old, the audience sang along the entire night and more than a few tears were shed — for lost loves, fond memories, and pride in their native son. Álvaro Carrillo died tragically in a car accident at the age of 47 but new generations continue to rediscover and cover his songs and, thanks to the internet, we can hear from the man, himself.

Oaxaca, you had me at Sabor a Mí.

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Yippee!!!  A new, and extremely colorful, species of grasshopper has been discovered in the pine-oak forest of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountain Range in Oaxaca.  Liladownsia fraile has been named for Oaxaca’s favorite daughter and one of my favorite performers, Lila Downs, someone I’ve written about often.

(Photo Credit: UCF)

(Photo Credit: UCF)

From Science Codex,

A newly discovered grasshopper by University of Central Florida scientists now bears the name of Grammy-award winning singer and activist Ana Lila Downs Sanchez.

The scientists named the new species discovered on the side of a mountain road near Oaxaca, Mexico, after the Mexican-American singer as a nod to her efforts to preserve indigenous culture and penchant for wearing colorful, local costumes as part of her performances.

“It was primarily Paolo’s idea to name the grasshopper after the singer” said Derek Woller, one of the authors of the paper referring to colleague Paolo Fontana. “He’s a big fan of Lila Downs (her stage name). The grasshopper is so beautiful, so vibrant and colorful. When he told us all about her, her work, her colorful clothes, and that she was born in the region where we found the specimens, we thought, yeah, that’s great, let’s do it.”  Read full article HERE.

According to the Zootaxa article, Studies in Mexican Grasshoppers: Liladownsia fraile, a new genus and species of Dactylotini (Acrididae: Melanoplinae) and an updated molecular phylogeny of Melanoplinae (a mouthful, I know, but the photos are worth scrolling through the article), Liladownsia fraile had been sighted in San José del Pacifico, Suchixtepec, and Pochutla.

By the way, if you are in Oaxaca, Lila Downs is performing tonight at the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá — a benefit for Fondo Guadalupe Musalem, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of the young indigenous women of Oaxaca through education.

poster for benefit

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Felicitaciones to Oaxaca’s favorite daughter, Lila Downs!  Her CD, Pecados y Milagros, won Best Folkloric album at the Latin Grammys on Thursday night.  When the album first came out, her promotional tour brought her to the Guelaguetza Auditorium, just up the hill, and we got to experience the spectacular show she put on in front of the hometown crowd.

And, at the Latin Grammys, she pulled out all the “spectacle” stops when she, Celso Piña, and Totó la Momposina performed, “Zapata Se Queda” from the album.  (Yes, THAT Zapata!)

The thank you by Lila Downs, posted on her website:

¡GRACIAS por creer en el folklor! Gracias por darnos ánimos cuando andamos tristes, por hacer con su cariño y palabras de buena fe que sigamos creyendo en Zapata, en México, en la tradición, en nuestros pueblos… ¡En la magia y la fe interminable de Latinoamérica!

(Thank you for believing in the folklore!  Thank you for giving us courage when we’re sad, to make with love and words of good faith that continue to believe in Zapata, in Mexico, in tradition, in our towns …In magic and the endless faith of Latin America!)

I strongly encourage you to check out the CD, Pecados y Milagros.  It really conveys the life, the love, the history, and the reverence that is the essence of Oaxaca.

Also, there’s a terrific review of her Latin Grammy performance at Examiner.com.

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As the promotional material for Ma (yo) en Oaxaca, Mujer (es) Arte y Cultura explains (loose translation), like a skilled weaver, women create the fabric of life… part of the history of humanity, intelligence that moves, the look that looks, which is regarded in the construction of better horizons of life for her and those who are around her.  And so, from May 3rd through 13th, the women of Oaxaca are being celebrated with workshops, exhibitions, lectures, and concerts.

Last night, under the supermoon, one of the accomplished women of Oaxaca, Alejandra Robles, gave a free concert, just a block away, in the Plaza de la Danza…

Ma (yo) en Oaxaca is a party for all of the principles of inclusion and participation to make possible the knowledge and appreciation of the cultural richness of groups which, for various reasons, have been marginalized.

¡Viva las mujeres!

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A musician friend recently told of hearing a young Oaxaqueña singer with a breathtakingly beautiful voice. And, the current front page of the Oaxaca Times announces, Alejandra Robles: the new oaxacan voice. I don’t know if this is who he was referring to, but in the words of the article, “her powerful voice reflects her training in Opera but her style is traditional Mexican with a rhythmic flare.”

Alejandra Robles - photo from Oaxaca Times

Alejandra Robles
is following in the immensely talented and extremely popular steps of Oaxaqueña vocalists, Lila Downs

Lila Downs - photo from Wikipedia

and Susana Harp, who have carved out successful careers celebrating their Oaxacan roots.

Susana Harp - photo from Wikipedia

I haven’t knowingly heard Alejandra Robles sing; I say “knowingly” because music is everywhere and often free… you just never know when and where you will round a corner to find it. This past November, from the comfort of my terrace, I had a ringside seat for a free Lila Downs concert a block away at the Plaza de la Danza. And, the previous May, I wandered down to the zócalo to hear Susana Harp performing (for free) with the Oaxaca State Band under the shade of the laurel trees.

And then there was this unknown singer…

Unknown singer at the Plaza de la Danza

In September, her beautiful clear and powerful voice drew me off the rooftop and over to the Plaza de la Danza where she and her talented band were performing to an audience of less than 100 people… part of events celebrating the Bicentennial. Regretfully, I was too shy to try out my limited Spanish and ask, “¿Quién es?” I searched the local newspapers and cultural calendars, but never was able to figure out who she was. Anyone know?

Update:  She is Natalia Cruz, a proud Zapoteca from Ixtaltepec in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.  Muchisimas gracias to one of my readers!

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