Tucson Stories Through Music
The Cumbia Corridos project, which is funded by grants from the Tucson Pima Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation, is a musical story-sharing project by Tucson-based cumbia group Vox Urbana that will tell the stories Tucson’s marginalized denizens, those who do not have a voice in public discourse. They may be recent immigrants, or people who have experienced detention or imprisonment, or whose families have been torn apart by border militarization, or have been pushed to the edges of society by poverty or intolerance.
Members of Vox Urbana have been able to contact and interview some of these denizens of Tucson with the help of organizations such as the Southside Worker’s Center, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, and the Florence Project. These interviews allow people to tell stories from their own perspective, countering narratives that are shared in mass media and hold sway in public consciousness.
The stories shared in these interviews will form the basis for a group of songs by Vox Urbana, each song relating a narrative inspired by the different interviews. The songs will be composed in Vox Urbana’s original style, which combines the pan-American rhythm of cumbia music with other musical styles from throughout Latin America, such as salsa, mambo, huapongo, and son cubano. Over the past 5 years, the group has evolved from a stripped-down 3-piece to a 7-member live force, with a full horn section blasting over its driving danceable rhythms.
Vox Urbana will debut all of the Cumbia Corridos songs as a single musical performance at the El Casino Ballroom, and invites the entire Tucson community to attend and dance along to their latin rhythms draped in the narrative fabric of the city’s stories.
“We want to create a music that is danceable and immediately accessible to our audience, but with lyrics that tell the stories of Tucsonans whose voices are pushed to the margins. By using their stories as the inspiration for lyrics, we look to create heroes out of those whose narratives lie outside of the mainstream,” says Enrique Castellanos and James Colby, the guitarist and keyboardist of the group.
You can catch Vox Urbana debuting the Cumbia Corridos project on Sunday, January 24th, 2016 at the El Casino Ballroom at 437 E. 26th Street in South Tucson. Doors at 6pm, music starts at 7. Admission is free, but we ask for a $5 donation to benefit some of the non-profit groups that have helped us find people to interview for the project.