Local bands spotlight Hispanic music

Hispanic cultures from around the globe express their heritage and talent through musical performance.

The “United Through Talent” show, as part of La Semana de la Raza, took place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 in Daggy Hall. La Semana de la Raza, or “the week of the race,” celebrates Latino and Chicano culture and strives to raise awareness for the Hispanic community in a week-long program.

This year’s events included United with Food, Latino Resistance Through Activism and other events each day last week. Sororities Kappa Delta Chi, Sigma Lambda Gamma and Alpha Nu hosted the talent show in partnership with LaFe, a Christian ministry of InterVarsity Latino Fellowship focused on reaching Latino students.

A performance by Landrace, a local band of WSU students, kicked off the first half of the show. The group performed 14 songs from a variety of Hispanic bands around the world.

In addition, Landrace also performed songs sung in English, but composed in Latino genres, like ska and reggae.

Eric Molina serves as manager, leader, saxophone player and vocalist for Landrace. Landrace has done work with the WSU Latino/a Chicano/a Center since last year.

“We honestly came in not knowing what was going to happen,” Mollina said. “But people showed up, and we played the exact same way we always do, whether five or a 100 people show up.”

During the fourth song, Landrace encouraged attendees to come on stage to dance to the music. By the ninth song, approximately 20 people danced in a circle around the band. Audience members joined and left the stage as they pleased. Toward the end of the performance, attendees formed a circle in front of the band for an impromptu dance-off. Even one of the trombone players joined the circle.

“We’ve had mosh pits at our shows before, but we’ve never been in it, literally, as a band,” Mollina said. “People were running, and the whole time I was like ‘I hope no one trips on the cables.’”

Jazz musician and heavy metal fan, Mollina favors the ska genre because it involves a blend of both jazz and metal styles. Reggae actually branched from ska music, Molina said. Even if people have never heard the name “ska,” they have usually heard the type of music before, he said.

Bands from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico and all over the world form to play this new kind of ska, Molina said.

The talent portion followed Landrace’s performance. This year, the event programmers decided to host a video contest, and the winning video was played during intermission, announced as “Giovanni and his friend.”

Afterward, volunteers from the audience participated in a Grito competition. “Grito” refers to a Mexican expression of joy or excitement, resembling both a laugh and a shout. The attendee with the best Grito received a Subway gift card.

Sharon Solomon, a WSU senior and member of God’s Harmony, sang the next act. Following Solomon was senior Alejandra Martinez, who performed her spoken word poem dedicated to the diversity of Latinas in the U.S. Martin Mendoza covered Josh Turner’s “Your Man,” while the audience clapped along to the rhythm.

For the final act, Banda LSN, performed five songs. During the fourth song, six audience members came onstage to dance. The fifth song turned into a slow dance, in which four sets of partners danced onstage.

Those participating the in the talent portion of the show came onstage afterward so the audience could choose the winners. The loudest applause determined Banda LSN to be the winners of “United Through Talent.” Afterward, a raffle drawing took place.

Thalia Quintero, LaFe representative, has participated in La Semana de la Raza since her first year at WSU. For La Raza de la Semana, the sponsoring organizations pick the yearly theme, Quintero said. This year’s theme, El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido, which translates to “a town united will never be defeated,” gave the inspiration for the “United Through Talent” theme of the talent show.

To find participants, Quintero said she reached out to people she knew and performers she had seen in shows.

Brenda Onofre, Sigma Lambda Gamma member, also participated on the committee for “United Through Talent.” The committee decided to have a video portion because some people get too nervous to perform onstage and performing in the comfort of home makes things easier for them, Onofre said. It also opens it up for more people to participate in the short amount of time we have, she said.

“United Through Talent” took as many performers as they could, Quintero said. Whoever signed up had a place in the show. The most challenging part had to do with last-minute things, like performers cancelling and having to find replacements, she said.

Quintero said the uniqueness of the show was her favorite part.

“The band at the beginning had a very different vibe,” Quintero said. “It’s something which really hasn’t happened in other talent shows I’ve attended, and I think the crowd really like it because it was interactive.”

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect the correct spelling of Eric Molina’s name. An earlier version of this article spelled his name as Eric Mollina.