A ROMANTIC EVENING IN OLD MEXICO with Songstress Linda Ronstadt and
Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano At Royce Hall on Nov. 6
“These are big-voiced songs, filled with the exuberance of nature, the fertility of the earth, love and romance.” – Linda Ronstadt
In the pop music world, Linda Ronstadt’s embrace of Mexican mariachi music more than 20 years ago was a bold and artistically rewarding move into uncharted territory. To Ronstadt, it was a return to the music of her youth, the songs and sounds that played a big part of her Tucson childhood and Mexican-American heritage. She inhabits that legacy and the heritage of this region again for “A Romantic Evening in Old Mexico,” a special UCLALive performance at Royce Hall on Nov. 6.
Accompanying Ronstadt will be the leading exponents of the style, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano – which electrified Royce Hall a year ago in a Day of the Dead celebration. Also joining in for a spectacular evening of ranchera music will be the Los Lupeños dance company from San Jose, California.
Ronstadt’s Canciones de Mi Padre (Songs of My Father), which also featured Nati Cano and Mariachi Camperos, was praised by the New York Times’ Stephen Holden as “the most deeply felt album the singer has ever made” upon its release in 1987 and won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American performance. It struck a chord with fans as well, quickly becoming the largest selling non-English album in the U.S. at that time, bringing mariachi to a new audience and boosting music that had been relegated to Mexican parties, to concert halls nationwide. A television special built around the project earned Ronstadt the 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
The singer, who came to fame in the country-rock world of the ‘70s with such beloved hits as “You’re No Good” and “Blue Bayou,” had already shown her range and reach with trend-setting ventures into pop standards with her three ‘80s albums with arranger Nelson Riddle and in musical theater, earning a Tony nomination in Joseph Papp’s production of “Pirates of Penzance”. In 1990 she followed with the strong sequel, Mas Canciones, and continued in a Spanish-language mode with 1992’s Frenesí, which brought Afro-Cuban styles to the mainstream market several years before the “Buena Vista Social Club” projects, and winning the Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album.
Of the mariachi canon, Ronstadt said in a recent interview. “They’re about growing the land, and romance blooming in that context. The songs are more complex sexually, I think, than the romantic love we grew up on.” She also spoke fondly of the multi-generational, family feel of the mariachi concerts she’s done periodically since the Canciones release. This music cuts across age and time. That’s a key part of her work with Nati Cano, who at 75 is one of the titans of mariachi. Cano was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989, and a USAArtists fellowship in 2006. The group, which Cano founded, and has led for more than 40 years, has performed all over the world. Its inventive interpretations on Llegaron Los Camperos! earned a 2006 Grammy Award nomination for Best Mexican/Mexican American album and its contribution to a tribute to singer Ella Jenkins shared a 2005 Grammy for Best Children’s album. Their newest album Amor, Dolor y Lagrimas digs deep into the tearful yearning of the ranchera world.
Linda Ronstadt first hit the charts as lead singer for the Los Angeles trio the “Stone Poneys”, who took the Mike Nesmith-written “Different Drum” into the Top 40 in 1967. Soon she launched a solo career that showed from the start her unwillingness to be locked into one style or sound. Since the beginning, Rondstadt’s 11 Grammy Awards and total of 17 nominations have covered perhaps an unprecedented range, including country, pop, rock, Mexican-American, Latin, children and both contemporary and traditional folk nods. She was named the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Female artist in 1974, with her breakthrough album Heart Like a Wheel hitting No. 1 in both the pop and country charts – the first of her three No. 1 pop albums and ten Top 10 placements. More recently, in 2006 she received a nomination for her duet album with Cajun great Ann Savoy, Adieu False Heart. Among her other notable collaborations are the two Trio albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, 1989’s Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind with Aaron Neville and her No. 2 single Somewhere Out There with composer James Horner from the soundtrack of the animated An American Tail.
Rondstadt’s tale is distinctively American, a journey of discovery of and through music. On the release of her 2004 album Hummin’ to Myself, her first foray with a small jazz group, she made her story clear: “Every experience you have is a glossy overlay on the rest of your life, which changes the colors and directions or clarifies them," she told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We’re not one person, we’re a series of them. So my life informs every note I’ve ever sung.
This performance is sponsored, in part, by the Royce Center Circle membership of Ginny Mancini.
More info at the website below.
"UCLA Live" (presented by UCLA
Live, at UCLA Live at Royce Hall, is part of UCLA Live’s
08-09 Roots Series).