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Santa Cecilia

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Arturo Hilario
El Observador

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 La Santa Cecilia, coming off their first Grammy win in February for best “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album”, came to San Jose’s St. Pedro Square on Saturday March 1st to treat the guests to a night of ballads, dancing, rocking out and a spread of great vibes all around. Part of San Jose Jazz Winterfest, the band also made a pit stop earlier in the day to Santee Elementary on the East Side of San Jose to talk to kids and parents alike. The main lineup consists of vocalist Marisol, “La Marisoul” Hernandez, self-proclaimed “cantante, gritona y chillona de La Santa Cecilia”, José “Pepe” Carlos on accordion and requinto, Miguel “Oso” Ramírez on Percussion and Alex Bendana on Bass. Hugo Varagas (Drums) and Marco Sandoval (Guitarist) round-up the crew that make up the musical stylings of La Santa Cecilia’s eclectic range of styles.

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Saturday’s performance brought along pure fun and energy out of all the members, and the lively crowd danced cheered and yelled out to the band within the packed café/venue of the St. Pedro Square Marketplace. The initial offerings included material from their Grammy winning debut, Treinta Dias, such as “Nuestra Senora La Reina De Los Angeles”, “30 Dias”, “Losing Game (Ft. Elvis Costello, but not at that particular show, shucks.)” and “Falling”. New material surfaced as well, including their Cumbia-laced new single, “Cumbia Morada”, ballad “Como Dios Manda” and graceful but danceable cover of the Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever”. A cover not on any album, “Tainted Love” caught everyone singing and grooving to the lyrics, which almost everyone should already have memorized.

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After the show I was able to catch up with LSC to ask them a couple questions regarding their rise from playing Quinceanearas, wakes and serenades to crafting an album a few years later, which won the Grammy against such heavyweights of Latin music as Café Tacvba and El Tri. This attests to the notion that La Santa Cecilia are genuinely good. One that combines a group of sounds and styles to create something all their own, but incorporates Latinidad and exemplifies its spectrum. Part of their stop in San Jose consisted of coming to Santee Elementary to speak with kids about their history and what they do within the realm of music.

The band agreed that it was an important event for them. One that helped them connect with kids and their parents as well.  “It’s good because they have someone to ID with. They’re not just seeing and/or hearing some random person on the TV or  radio who they don’t have anything to do with. They can ID with us. They know where were coming from. We share their same story. We’re from the same community as they are” said Miguel. Another way of giving back, or at least acknowledging their support for the community, is their dedication of the Grammy win to the more than 11 million undocumented people in the United States. Pepe says that the band’s support stems from their personal beliefs and connections to the issue of immigration. “That was very special to us, especially for those that are undocumented. If we only had the opportunity, this is an example of how much we can do, and writing “El Hielo-ICE”,  was our support towards immigration reform.  So I think  we’re always thankful to everyone that comes to support our band. A lot of our fans go through that situation of not having papers in this country.”

Marisoul adds to this, the importance of getting into the spotlight to address something as daunting as the immigration issue. “Here we are representing American music, even though it’s in Spanish or English. We’re representing it, and we thought it was important to acknowledge our parents hard work and the people who are out there. They’re working hard too, y merecen vivir pues, una mejor vida.”In terms of the differences between their debut and the sophomore album “Something New”, Marisoul offers up this: “I think that in “Someday New” we show more what our real influence is. We have a lot of influence from Latin American music. It doesn’t have to necessarily be from south of the border. It can be from New Orleans.” She goes on to say that “Treinta Dias” “era nuestra tarjeta de representacion,” like this is who we are. We’re a band from Los Angeles and we sing in English and Spanish and we mix all these genres. This one (“Something New”) is more like okay “aqui esta nuestro Corazon. Aquí es de dónde venimos.” As such, by building off of their work with mixtures of urban LA life, a mix in itself, and bits and pieces of the musical styles of the rest of the Americas, La Santa Cecilia “I think that album is a reflection of that. Everything comes from love. It sounds like a hippy, but that’s how I feel.” Both “Treinta Dias” and “Something New” are now available in stores and digitally on iTunes and Spotify.

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© 2011 news el observador ·A weekly newspaper serving Latinos in the San Francisco Bay Area
P.O.  Box 1990, San Jose, CA 95109 • 99 N. First Street, Suite 100 , San Jose,  California 95113 • (408) 938-1700