There’s a familiar warmth that a place like Mexico City can provide when you’re deep in love — the rich colors, friendly faces, and lively music can amplify your feelings. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing that joy or tender sadness that love brings when your heart is ripped in two, La Santa Cecilia is showing you exactly what that feels like through their new visual album “Amar Y Vivir.”
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The Los Angeles-based band is releasing a new live album that was recorded in 12 different locations in Mexico City, such as the Zócalo and Parque México, and each song will be accompanied by a music video. You know, just like Beyoncé did with “Lemonade,” except “Amar Y Vivir” is more like limón con sal y chile. The entire album covers of classic songs from Mexico and Latin America.
Here’s the album’s title track, which has been recorded by Vicente Fernandez, Julio Jaramillo and Los Angeles Negros:
“‘Amar y Vivir’ is a collection of songs that are very near and dear to our heart, and to the history of the band, and to us as musicians,” vocalist La Marisoul said in a statement to Billboard. “These are the songs that we learned from our parents; the songs we heard at parties. We learned how to play music with these songs, and I learned how to be a singer through these boleros and rancheros. These are the songs that we always return to when we’re in a family gathering or just us amongst the band. These are always the songs we play, enjoy and sing together.”
The Grammy award-winning band haven’t stopped working since their debut album in 2009. In 2014, they won a Grammy for “Treinta Días.” Last year, they released their six album titled “Buenaventura.”
For this new album, La Santa Cecilia is collaborating with with Mexican singer Eugenia León, Mon Laferte of Chile, Comisario Pantera, Rebel Cats, Caña Dulce Caña Brava, and Mariachi de América de Jesús Rodríguez de Hijar.
Here’s a trailer of the entire visual album:
The band is currently on tour in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. On May 19th they play at El Lunario del Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City.
Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.
And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.
The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.
Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.
In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.
According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.
Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.
And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.
With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.
Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.
Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.
Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.
“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”
Not everyone has the privilege of growing up surrounded by their cultura, with parents there to pass on knowledge of traditions and customs from home. That, combined with heavily opinionated internet trolls, has led to many people struggling to feel confident in their identity. In a digital world that tries to force us all to fit into boxes, what does “Latino enough” mean and how do you know if you’re there?
Recently, we asked our Instagram community “what does being Latino mean to you?” and although some responses had details in common, for the most part they were as unique as every member of the community itself. There is no one definition of Latinidad, and therefore there is no way to measure what exactly makes someone “Latino enough.”
“It means that I have something to identify with and be proud of because of my family members, my culture, and the things that I participate in as a Latina.” – A.C.
Side note, this was a personal reminder that we represent the community wherever we occupy space, whether we realize it or not. We are all participating in things as members of the community.
What’s something that, as a Latina, you are proud of?– mitú
“The strength and endurance that we have. I’ve seen it in my dad, his family, and so many others and it makes me feel proud as well as encouraged to achieve my goals with the same mindset as them.” – A.C.
While they may not be perfect (and let’s face it, who is?), our parents are the definition of hard working. Remembering that their blood runs through my veins always keeps me going when the going gets tough. Si se puede!
What Latino figures inspire you? – mitú
“Selena, even though she was an artist that I didn’t really grow up listening to. When I found out who she was, she was someone who I related to because she was a Mexican-American learning to speak and sing in Spanish, while breaking a lot of barriers that people had set up around her.” – A.C.
La Reina del Tex-Mex was a trailblazer indeed! Who else could forget Selena’s iconic “diecicuatro” blurb when she appeared in an interview with Cristina Saralegui? The important thing to focus on is that she was TRYING! As long as we’re all working on improving and being the best versions of ourselves, that’s the best we can do, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.
Name one meal that, no matter where you have it, always reminds you of home. – mitú
“Homemade tamales!!!! 100%” – A.C.
You know we love some good tamales, so naturally our next question was…
Where is your family from? – mitú
“My dad is from Mexico and my mom is from Ohio.” – A.C.
Mmmm…Mexican tamales 😋
Have you ever been to those places? – mitú
“Yes, both places. I went to Mexico when I was really young, maybe about two times, and then I’ve traveled to Ohio on various occasions to see family. I was young each time I went to those places so they’re little memories I think of when I miss my family.” – A.C.
What would you say is the most “Latino” item in your home? – mitú
“We have these blankets from my grandma that I grew up using. I thought they were normal blankets but then I saw on social media that almost every Latino household has some and I was like hmmm, what do you know?” – A.C.
What would you say to people who think that not speaking Spanish makes you less Latino?– mitú
“I think it’d definitely be nice to know the language fluently but some people aren’t taught Spanish growing up and that’s not their fault. Not speaking the language doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same customs or should be rejected from the culture that their family is from. I decided to learn on my own because I’ve always been interested in Spanish, and also so I could speak with my family and I see that’s what a lot of other people are doing too.” – A.C.
One more time for the people in the back: not speaking Spanish doesn’t make you any less Latino.
How do you celebrate your Latinidad? – mitú
“With pride. I wouldn’t be who I am today without influences from my family so it’ll always be something I carry with me and proudly show throughout my life and career.” – A.C.
What do you hope people take away from this trend? – mitú
“That Latinidad is something you’re born with and it can’t ever be taken away from you,” – A.C.
So forget about the opinions of other people! All they’re doing is projecting their beliefs onto you and that is not an actual reflection of who you are. We hope you are inspired to embrace your Latinidad on your own terms, and that you walk more confidently in your identity. So duet us on TikTok and don’t forget to use the hashtag #AreYouLatinoEnough to join in on the fun!
Did we mention quarantine has not stopped Alaina Castillo from dropping new music? Check out her latest single, “tonight,” below!