Things That Matter

Joe Lopez Is Launching A Career Comeback After Serving Time For Raping Teenage Niece

Do you believe people deserve redemption? In today’s society, cancel culture is real and it has ended the career of many in entertainment, politics, and sports. Some have committed such egregious crimes that their cancelation is in line with societal values and norms. That is a discussion happening now with Joe Lopez’s return to the music world after 12 years in prison for raping his niece when she was 13 years old.

A Tejano musician who was in prison for 12 years after he was convicted of raping his own niece is making a return to the music world.

Credit: El Rodeo Disco / Facebook

Joe Lopez, a 69-year-old singer of the Tejano group called Banda Mazz, was released from prison in 2018 after the parole board deemed it was okay for him to be let go. He was supposed to be in jail for 20 years but was released early, as the Daily Mail reports, after the “Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles decided last week to allow Lopez to enter the county ‘solely for employment purposes.'”

Raymond Estrada, a spokesperson for the parole board, said they encourage offenders to be able to get jobs after their release from prison. 

“The board recognizes the importance of employment as being a critical component to successful reentry for offenders,” Estrada, told the San Antonio Current. “If public safety is not compromised, we support such initiatives.”

That statement is a bit unsettling, considering that Lopez, who is a sex offender, will be singing to women of all ages at concerts. 

In 2004, Lopez was convicted of raping his niece. She was only 13-years-old at the time.

The crime occurred in Rancho Viejo, a small town outside Brownsville, Texas. He has since returned to that same neighborhood, which is where his niece still lives. While he is registered as a sex offender, he has always maintained that he never committed the crime. 

Lopez’s niece has yet to comment on the release of her convicted uncle. However, Andy Kahan of Crime Stoppers Houston and an advocate of the rape victim said the parole’s decision to release Lopez early is a “slap in the face.”  He added, “I can’t fathom their rationale for allowing this to happen. How can I in good conscience now tell victims we can get that in the conditions of their release when it’s subject to being easily removed and changed?”

If you’re thinking that there’s no way people would be interested in hearing Lopez sing again with his band, think again. At least one of his shows is sold out.

Lopez will be performing with his old group Banda Mazz on a comeback tour, and at least one show was sold out as soon as it announced. Oh, and the show is called the “Freedom Tour.” 

El Rodeo Disco uploaded one of Banda Mazz’s videos, and most people on social media were thrilled about the band’s return. 

Pablo Hernandez wrote on Facebook, “Been waiting long enough. Alli voy a estar.” Sylvia Ortiz also chimed in saying, “Whom am I to judge. Love ur music.” Others said, “is this show sold out?” Another said, “can’t wait!” One person, however, did not approve. Juan N Esme Reynoso wrote on Facebook, “This was when he wasn’t a child molester. Rodeo Disco is wrong for letting him perform.”

Lopez definitely has a following. On the band’s Facebook page, fans were thrilled that the band would be headed on a comeback tour.

Sandra Vallejo who serves as Lopez’s manager told the Daily Mail they are seeking to exonerate him of the rape charges. She adds, “For every one person against him, there are three more who support him.” She is right about that. From our research of the band on social media, people are praising their return. 

We think it’s mostly due to the band’s older audience. It’s interesting to note that the biggest Tejano music star — Selena Quintanilla, of course — has some of the most socially conscious fans, especially her new fans. So perhaps some of them will organize a rally at some of Banda Mazz’s shows. Because you know Selena would never stand for a convicted sex offender perform in Texas, or anywhere for that matter, knowing full well that there is a dangerous element involved. 

READ: A Woman Has Come Forward To Accuse An ICE Agent Of Rape And Threatening Her With Deportation

Lil Nas Is Performing His Super Hit “Old Town Road” At The Grammys Alongside BTS—The First Ever K-Pop Band To Be Invited On Stage

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Lil Nas Is Performing His Super Hit “Old Town Road” At The Grammys Alongside BTS—The First Ever K-Pop Band To Be Invited On Stage

lilnasx / Instagram

BTS and Lil Nas definitely dominated the music scene in 2019. Radio stations couldn’t stop playing their music — and we couldn’t stop listening. And because we can’t decide who we love the most, The Recording Academy and CBS confirmed that the rapper and K-pop group will be performing together at this year’s Grammys.

BTS is going to perform at the Grammys!

The news was shared by the Recording Academy itself just a short time ago, and it’s even more exciting than an initial report that said only RM would be performing. 

Initially, fans thought that only one BTS member would be performing.

An initial report that said only RM would be performing. In a lengthy profile on Lil Nas X published yesterday by Variety, sources suggested that the BTS singer, producer and rapper would take part in an “Old Town Road” showing, but that hadn’t been confirmed by the Recording Academy. Now, the entire band has been included, which is much, much more thrilling for all involved, especially for BTS’s Army.

BTS will make history as the first K-pop group to perform at the Grammys.

While fans were hoping they’d attend the 2020 ceremony as nominees, this is still an incredible leap forward when it comes to Korean acts being considered by the American music industry.

Get ready for a K-country-hip-pop crossover.

This won’t be the first time all these genres mash up though. In July 2019, a remix of Nas’ “Old Town Road” was released that featured the Korean group’s rapper, RM, retitled “Seoul Town Road,” a mashup that’s likely to fit into their Grammys collaboration.

BTS and Lil Nas won’t be the only ones at the “Old Town” party.

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The Grammys have other eclectic guests slated to join in for the number as well. Country star Billy Ray Cyruswill, of course, reprise the duet part that took the tune into overdrive early in its chart life. Diplo’s also going to be on stage.

The EDM star did his own “Old Town Road” remix.

Diplo invited Lil Nas X onto his stage last May at the Stagecoach Festival for the young rapper’s first live appearance, so it’s only natural that Lil Nas would make the DJ and producer a part of his show. And lastly, to really mix it up back in the direction of country, young yodeler Mason Ramsey is also joining the chart-topping artists on stage.

With six nominations in total, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year, Lil Nas X is one of the artists with the most nominations.

Lil Nas is tied with the most nominations with Billie Eilish. The two are surpassed only by Lizzo, so it makes sense that he’d want to make his performance extra special by including all of the musicians that helped make his hit even more popular. 

The star-studded performance was planned to honor the song’s many remixes

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2020 🧞‍♂️🧞‍♂️🧞‍♂️

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The segment has been called “Old Town Road All-Stars,” and in it, we’ll see the six-time nominee deliver a thrilling show of his 19-week No. 1.

According to Forbes, inIncluding BTS in its telecast is sure to help the Grammys improve ratings.

The award show’s ratings have been slipping for years. An issue that many award ceremonies have faced over the past decade. Which is why adding the most popular and beloved band in the world is sure to get plenty of people to turn on their TVs who otherwise probably would not have.

BTS and Lil Nas will be joining an incredible lineup of previously-announced performers, such as Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Jonas Brothers, Camila Cabello, and many, many more. The Grammys will air live on CBS this Sunday, January 26 at 8 PM EST.

How ‘Guantanamera’ Sung By Celia Cruz Helped Me To Better Understand My Abuelo’s Exile From Cuba

Fierce

How ‘Guantanamera’ Sung By Celia Cruz Helped Me To Better Understand My Abuelo’s Exile From Cuba

credit: Cuban passport image belonging to writer's mother / Photograph provided by Alexandria Portée / Flower design by Canva.com

My mother was six when she fled to the United States from Cuba with my abuela and her two siblings. After reuniting with my abuelo who fought against Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs War, they moved to Chicago, where they built a life for themselves completely from scratch, still gripping tenderly onto the heritage and cultures that connected them to families and friends back at home. In their efforts to keep and sustain our family’s Cuban heritage, my abuelos and my mother taught me and my siblings to love and cherish the many different and beautiful contributions that their island country has given to the world: cuisine, cafecito, Bacardí, music, and José Marti.

Naturally, as any proud Cuban-American, I have benevolently held onto all of these as my own personal tokens from an island I have never visited or known. I’m quick to boast about each of them as if they were conjured up by my own mother’s hard work in the kitchen. Still, none have Cuba’s treasures have made me feel quite so intimately linked to my family’s first home like the beloved Cuban song “Guantanamera.”

Like my abuelos and my mother’s stories of Cuba, “Guantanamera” is a song that has grown and adapted through its journey. I have heard the story of my abuelos’ wedding day more than a hundred times; the tale of how my mother cried when kids at her school called my abuelo —a Bay of Pigs prisoner who singlehandedly saved hundreds of lives after being captured by Castro — a criminal; the account of my abuela wringing her hands as she debated enrolling her children in Operation Peter Pan and how she later boarded a cargo ship holding onto only her children and memories of her life to meet my abuelo in the United States. Each anecdote is the same but is always slightly altered in some way depending on the storyteller’s mood and time that I plead for their retelling. Some days they’re drawn out, told with prideful smiles, but often they’re said quickly with an ache to forget the portal of bittersweet memories my questions have sent them through. So similarly goes the many different versions of “Guantanamera.”

It is widely accepted that the original lyrics of the song, considered to be Cuba’s unofficial anthem, were romantic in nature, but over time, the song has been interpreted as a political ode. Brought from the rural regions of the island and to airwaves by Cuban radio host Joseíto Fernández in the 1920s, the song quickly caught on among fans. Fernández performed it regularly on his show and, in the tradition of most folk music, improvised and changed verses based on the week’s events. Some days he sang about politics, and other days he purred lyrics that harped about azucar and its rising costs. Still, the song’s opening lines and chorus, “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera / Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera,” always remained the same.

Cuban composer Julián Orbón adapted the “official” lyrics to the song using verses from Cuban freedom fighter José Martí’s poetry collection “Versos Sencillos.” Orbón’s version, the one most commonly recorded by music artists, used Marti’s lines about a “sincere man” who was from “where the palm trees grow (Yo soy un hombre sincero/ De donde crece la palma).

This adaptation, combined with other lyrics from Martí’s poems that express compassion for Cuba’s poor, is ultimately what turned “Guantanamera” into the country’s most recognized patriotic anthem. In the U.S. and internationally, the song has been interpreted and adopted as a rally for peace (in 2004, for instance, the Swedish government flipped it into an offbeat rap song to promote recycling) and performed by a wide range of artists. In 1966, the Sandpipers did a version that became an international hit, and in the years that followed, singers like Jimmy Buffett, Pitbull and even the Fugees recorded their own editions. My personal favorite is the one sung by Cuban-born singer Celía Cruz on her album “Bravo” in 1967.

My Spanish has never quite allowed me to communicate with my abuelo in his native language fluently, but “Guantanamera” has let me do so.

Most conversations with my abuelo come with a melding of his so-so English and my mediocre Spanish. Together, we’re able to find a common ground that allows us to make each other laugh, exchange “te quiero mucho muchos” and grants me the ability to learn about the family and life he was forced to leave behind. In worse case scenarios, my abuela, a retired Spanish teacher, or my mother will intervene to translate. But when it comes to “Guantanamera,” abuelo and I have never needed assistance. Together, we’ve sung the song, our separately known variants, not always familiar with the lines each other sings but always well aware that in those moments they fill us with a deep love for each other and the versions of Cuba we both know.

Recently, during a visit with my abuelos, we sat together in their snug living room listening to Celía Cruz’s illustrious take of “Guantanamera” as her throaty voice sang over flute trills and drums. Old pictures of primos and tias looked down at us from the walls as we first listened carefully to the lyrics.

There’s no knowing what will prompt one of the Cubans in my family to break out into song. My most playful tía will chorus a line to tell stories; my brother does it at the dinner table even though he knows he’ll be told it’s rude, and my mother does it when she wants you to be in a better mood. Like them, my abuelos and I couldn’t help ourselves as Celía’s lively low-range voice started the chorus. Not against the charms of “Guantanamera.” Soon enough, abuela, abuelo and I were all singing the different Spanish versions of the song we hold dear.

Truthfully, if ever there was a moment that I thought I could burst from feeling so whole, it was sitting there in their living room, watching as the burden of my abuelo’s struggles of exile, always easy to decipher in his quietly distracted stares, seemed almost completely forgotten as he sang with pure delight.

“Guantanamera” is a song that has had a rhythmic presence in my life for as long as I can remember.

Like the smell of aftershave on my abuelo’s worn blue guayabera and the cheekiness of my abuela’s wily grin, I could make out that song anywhere, even despite the many versions it holds. Including the one I’ve heard my abuelo hum while brushing his teeth and the one my mother tries to keep in tune to while singing along to Cruz as she drives in the car. Like the different impressions of the song, Cuba is a country that has been strongly woven into our different narratives. Still, while my relationship and experience with Cuba will never tug on the strings of my heart with the same pang as it does on my abuelos or my mother, “Guantanamera” reminds me that the island is much more of a home than a foreign place that my family’s exile might try to make me believe.