Sonia De Los Santos was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, and in 2007 started touring the world, singing in English and Spanish, playing guitar and jarana, a style of guitar from her native Mexico. At the Miami Theater Center last season, Sonia was a hit, so she's been invited back to perform her new show, which will make its premiere in Miami before heading to New York City's New Victory Theater. Fiesta Con Sonia De Los Santos is at the Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m.
miamiartzine.com talked to Sonia De Los Santos about her music, her culture, and what bringing her show to Miami Shores means to her, and what she hopes will resonate with her audience.
miamiartzine: Your show is called Fiesta Con Sonia De Los Santos. Sounds like a party, yes?
Sonia De Los Santos: Yes, we want everyone to enjoy the music that we play. There are a lot of countries celebrated in the show including Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and the United States. The songs will be sung in Spanish, English and Haitian Creole.
maz: Celebrating heritage is really important in your shows. In this political time with all that is going on across the world and with the border situation, do you think the messages in your show are more critical than ever?
SDLS: We do what we do, and I have been performing for awhile, but yes, it is especially interesting to do it now. Of course it is. I was born and raised in Mexico, I have my United States citizenship now. It took a long time to get it, and I am a proud U.S. citizen. But I do think it is important to look back and share my story of where I come from. My band comes from different parts of the world, too, and I really hope to inspire children to look into their own roots and ask questions about where their families come from.
And if they are in Miami or New York or anywhere they are. What were the circumstances of how their families came here, what connects them to where they live, and what connects them to where their families are from? To that point, I just want to say that many times we don't ask those questions. Sometimes people leave where they were from, their places of origin, because they didn't have a choice, or there are painful circumstances, so it's not necessarily easy to talk about. Sometimes families don't want to discuss it because it is painful. But it is important to know. To ask: Why did you leave? And what did you do to get here?
maz: Your message is hopeful and full of promise.
SDLS: Yes, through the music and storytelling. I tell my story that once I was a little girl and I loved to sing and I had this dream. And in the show, I say what am I celebrating. For Sonia, one of her dreams was to be making music for children and families. Not every kid's dream is to make music or to become an astronaut. Kids have different dreams – dreams come big and small. I want to get them thinking about their dreams, and to know that they can work towards them. And, I want them to be interested in the people around them and what they are into. Because the show speaks in many different languages, to show them to not be afraid of other languages.
Miami is pretty diverse, and in these kinds of cities, there are difficulties around communities getting along. I want to encourage people to know more about their neighbors, and to find the things that make us alike, that we can share, and not what separates us.
maz: Another aspect of the show is to get generations together to share in the lively experience of Fiesta Con Sonia De Los Santos.
SDLS: Definitely. This is meant to be a family activity. To share experiences from generation to generation. I'm not only talking to young children and their parents in the show. We know that there are grandparents, that they are part of the picture, because they are many times helping out in the family. We make it approachable for children, but it speaks to people from all generations. I like the band to share their experiences with the audience, too, and what they bring to this party. It's a good opportunity for families to enjoy their times together. Celebrating life and diversity through music.
The show isn't scripted. It's organic and laid back. It's a musical celebration about where we are from.
maz: I know that part of the excitement you and your band brings to audiences is through the instruments you play.
SDLS: There is some education with the instruments. I play guitar, mandolin and jarana. It's a very different instrument and people are curious.
maz: Can you tell me about it?
SDLS: The jarana is a Mexican traditional guitar. It is from the southern region of Mexico, Veracruz. Jarana is the main instrument played in the musical style of son jarocho, and there is a whole family of instruments played within that style. The genre is very old and has influences from three different cultures -- Spanish, indigenous and African.
maz: You have some special guests in your Miami show.
SDLS: Michael Gil, who was born in Havana, Cuba, and is a well know Miami musician, and also has studied and researched instruments like the berimbau, kalimba, didgeridoo. We also have Inez Barlatier, an multi-talented artist of Haitian descent.
For this show, I really wanted to celebrate our different cultures and the instruments that we play from country to country, and the rhythms. I have my core band, and then our musical guests will play songs and instruments from their countries. This shows how rhythms from all different places come together. Sometimes you don't even have to speak when there is music. Music is the common language.
Fiesta Con Sonia De Los Santos at the Miami Theater Center, 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Tickets $5-$10. The Miami Theater Center, 9806 N.E. 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33138. Call 305-751-9550 or go to www.mtcmiami.org.