San Joaquin Valley Latinx Music and Poetry for Covid-19 Prevention
Juan Felipe Herrera, Leonel Mendoza, and Carmencristina Moreno
Project produced by Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Various locations throughout the Central Valley
The Alliance for California Traditional Arts produced four original works of art with empowering public health messages about protecting one another, resilience and community. These new works in music and poetry are from professional artists who are recognized in their communities as beloved exponents of expressive arts and culture. Key COVID-19 harm reduction messages from the State of California are incorporated into the new works. The audio is disseminated on Radio Bilingue, a Spanish-language broadcast network with a large broadcast area in California, groups performed live at events in Madera and Arvin, CA. This project engages prominent Latino, Black/African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American/Indigenous and LGBTQ artists and communities throughout California.
About the Artist
Juan Felipe Herrera, National Poet Laureate 2015-2017, wrote, directed and acted in a play designed for the radio. Herrera is the author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children, including Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. Herrera lives in Fresno and teaches at Fresno State.
Leonel Mendoza and Los Originarios del Plan is a four- piece ensemble that plays the traditional acoustic music known as Arpa Grande de la Tierra Caliente which is a regional Mexican style of music from Michoacán. This band is wildly popular and plays up and down the state at parties, dances and other occasions. This ensemble lives in Le Grand in Merced County.
Grupo Recreacion specializes in Mixtecan music, and the members’ families originally came to the US from the Oaxacan region of Mexico. Members include Director Pedro Cruz who sings and plays accordion; Gerardo Ramirez, bass and voice; Franco Cruz, percussionist; Erick Ramierez, Guitarist. All band members live in Bakersfield, CA.
Carmencristina Moreno was named a NEA National Heritage Fellow in 2003 in recognition of her lifelong contribution to Mexican American musical heritage through songwriting, performing and teaching. Daughter of pioneering Mexican American singers in the Los Angeles area in the late ‘30s and ‘40s, her family moved to the San Joaquin Valley to work as farm workers, but never gave up their musical performances. In 1976, Carmencristina gained widespread attention for a milestone recording, Si Se Puede!, for which she composed the music as well as sang. She became increasingly involved in teaching broad audiences about Mexican American musical heritage and participated in the Smithsonian Festival of American Folk life. She is a recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes Award. She currently lives in Fresno.
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