As natural disasters ravage through communities and displace many on both sides of the border, it's no accident that one of Latin music’s most in-demand genres, regional Mexican, has become a relief lifeline.
Regional Mexican artists with social media platforms anchored to millions of followers in U.S. and Mexico have been working individually and behind-the-scenes to aid those deeply impacted by the powerful hurricanes in the U.S. and earthquakes in Mexico.
“The magnitude of these disasters is unbelievable,” said Regulo Carlo, a singer/songwriter who frequently tours domestically and beyond. “Even posting emergency numbers online or things people can do to support is important.”
Regional Mexican music has long been a powerful staple within Latin music, connecting strongly with Latinos of Mexican origin who account for more than 60 percent (about 36 million) of the U.S. population. Many artists have quietly donated or signed up to raise money through a variety of methods that include everything from televised drives to social media campaigns, urging everyone to consider contributing anything they can.
Multiplied by many artists, the impact of having regional Mexican music stars with close ties to the community sending specific messages of instruction and support is huge.
Recording artists such as Luis Coronel have donated money with plans to support fundraising campaigns, while reality show star Chiquis Rivera had field producers following her on the day she cleaned out her closet to sell glittery gowns to fans, which brought in nearly $10,000 in sales to support those affected by the earthquakes.
Gerardo Ortiz, one of regional Mexican’s biggest artists, has attached his name to the scheduled Sept. 29 Culiacan Fuerza Mexico concert in the state capital of Sinaloa. Pepe Aguilar is donating proceeds from ticket sales of his show at Arena Ciudad de Mexico, also Sept. 29, to victims of the quakes. Singer Maria Jose donated proceeds of her Sept. 24 Tijuana show to earthquake recovery efforts through the Carlos Slim Foundation, which is multiplying all donations by five. Last week, rock group Maná also announced they were donating nearly $200,000 through Slim’s foundation so the money could be multiplied, and urged fans to also donate.
For siblings and band members Poncho and Joel Lizarraga of the venerable Banda el Recodo, getting aid to those in need has been a major priority, said Rene Vargas, a manager at the band’s Los Angeles offices.
Putting together a detailed plan in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey began taking shape when the band contacted Enrique Gonzalez, the CEO of he popular Southern California-based Vallarta Supermarkets. They came up with a plan to provide food, water and supplies to those who needed it the most.
"I have never seen so much destruction," said Vargas, who personally traveled to Texas to oversee the efforts. "Some people lost everything, so any support they got was essential."
Vargas cautions that those with the means of providing much needed supplies should work with local organizations that specialize in providing support. The Houston-based U4U International organization, a nonprofit which focuses on supporting communities, helped guide the Vallarta donations, which ultimately arrived at a church in Humble, Texas. On their end, norteno group Intocable, who hail from Zapata, Texas, donated $10,000 to hurricane Harvey efforts through the Red Cross.
One of the biggest surprises Vargas encountered during his trip to Texas was seeing communities unite when it seemed that moments before racial tensions dominated the country. The hurricane, Vargas said, in many ways neutralized people and whatever issues they had previously suddenly seemed irrelevant.
A major concern for people born in Mexico and living in Texas was their immigration status and potentially being deported during the hurricane, Vargas said. He was encouraged to hear that immigration agencies focused on keeping people safe during the hurricane and were not seeking to deport.
"Celebrities like Salma Hayek are donating major money and that does help as well," Vargas said. "Doing key research and teaming up with an organization that has experience in supporting these relief efforts is key. Now is the time to help.”
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