By: John Rodriguez
This Saturday the French celebrated Spanish Language Day by holding two concerts one near the Place de la Concorde in Paris and another in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. The concert was a part of a Spaniard Institute, which has centers in four French cities, celebrating a program entitled “Mexico City at the Cervantes,” and had three Mexican singer-songwriters in attendance with Julieta Venegas, Ely Guerra, and Natalia Lafourcade taking part in the celebrations.
In her first visit to Paris, Ely Guerra describes how the Spanish language is something more meaningful since it has, “the gift of making everything more beautiful if you’re willing to find the right words and get familiar enough with it,” Guerra also adds that, “the fact that a Mexican in the mood to be creative prefers to look outside the country and not inside it saddens me, because Mexico has such a rich, solid culture,” seemingly commenting on the recent influx of Mexican stars branching out to other countries to jumpstart their creative careers.
Meanwhile Mexican singer-songwriters Julieta Venegas discloses how as a child she dreamt of becoming a professor of literature, but felt a constant pressure to speak English when it came to the arts. “They force English on us everywhere, in music, in movies,” said Venegas speaking about her education in Tijuana where she had to speak both English and Spanish. Fellow singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade agreed with Venegas adding that Spanish is meaningful since it “is a root, a way of life, a language. I feel super-proud to compose in the language of Federico Garcia Lorca, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel Marquez.”
While the three Mexican singer-songwriters are honored to participate in the celebration of the Spanish language, Guerra, Venegas, and Lafourcade are also using their appearance at the event to kick off a European tour in the shared mission of sweetening Mexico’s image through the use of their music.
Organized by Bi100, a project which is backed by Mexico’s government in an effort to celebrate the country’s Bicentennial of Independence, the three Latina musicians will be making stops in Germany, Spain, and Italy over the entire month. “There’s music in Mexico, there’s daily life,” said Venegas speaking about Mexico all the way in France, “We won’t deny that things over there are not perfect, but [this tour] is saying that there are other things going on—that we are also playing music.”
“I think faith cures,” adds Guerra, “I think coming here to perform symbolizes a celebration,” of both the Spanish-language and its creative talents who use it to bring forth a positive message about their country even during a time where it may be hard to see such positivity. After the Spanish Language Day celebration held on Saturday, another day of festivities kicks off at the start of this week in Paris when Music Day begins and from there they embark on their tour continuing at the Cabaret Sauvage before traveling through Germany, Italy, and Spain.