Latino artists to be in spotlight
By Carmen Duarte
Nuestras Raíces offers showcase for storytellers,
Nuestras Raíces, a
second annual celebration of Latino literary arts and film, is featuring
musicians, authors and storytellers this weekend at the Downtown Joel D.
Valdez Main Library.
A mercado and tamale festival will also be part of the fair
that offers fun for people of all ages, said Anna Sanchez, an organizer with
the Tucson-Pima Public Library.
"This all came about after a group of Hispanic librarians
went to a conference in Las Cruces, N.M.," explained Sanchez of the Border
Book Festival, which was founded by author Denise Chávez.
"There were all these wonderful Latino writers sharing their
work. There also were Latino films full of dramatic presentations and great
storytelling," recalled Sanchez.
The group of local librarians proposed that a festival take
place here and the idea took off with community organizations, including
Friends of the Tucson-Pima Public Library and El Centro Cultural de las
Americas, helping sponsor it, Sanchez said.
Singer and composer Wladimir Pinto, a native of Venezuela, is
among the artists that will be featured at the celebration. He plays guitar
and percussion and will be accompanied by musicians Amilcar Guevara on
piano, Adam Gay on upright base, Rick Peron on trumpet and Pete Cadava on
Pinto, 44, will perform his original compositions from his
CD, "Mis Canciones," which he describes as the "culmination of a dream."
The reading teacher at Lynn Urquides Elementary School began
working with Tucson Unified School District in 1991. When he was in a
regular classroom, he began turning his stories into songs to excite his
students about topics they were studying. The music styles include flamenco,
cumbia, merengue, salsa and Latin pop.
"Music exhilarates me. I get a rush," said Pinto. "I like to
beat a drum. When the song is going well, you feel so good."
Pinto, who received a master's in bilingual education in 1995
from the University of Arizona, laughed when he recalled his undergraduate
years in the early 1980s. It was a time when he could not afford
instruments. He and friends would use wastebaskets for drums and wooden
spoons and a cheese grater for a güiro.
Pinto and his wife, Caroline, 43, who is also a teacher, and
their son, Wladimir, 8, travel to Pinto's native Venezuela every two years
to visit relatives in Caracas. It's a family tradition for Pinto to play and
sing with his parents, Juan, 79 and Lisbia, 68, who also have music running
through their veins.
"It is natural for us to gather after dinner in the living
room or dining area and start singing and clapping. Someone usually begins
to dance and everyone has such a good time," said Caroline of special
moments with her husband's family.