Latin American bolero music is recognized for its romantic lyrics, lush harmonies, and is considered by many the most romantic music genre of Latin America.
The genre originated in Cuba in 1883 but gained international notoriety once the music reached Mexico in the 1940s and was interpreted by romantic trios, three-piece bands composed of three voices accompanied by a guitar and the complex instrumentation of a requinto, a smaller guitar typically tuned a fifth higher than a standard guitar.
To this day, boleros interpreted by 1940s artists such as Trio Los Panchos, Agustin Lara, and Celia Cruz are heard and treasured in many Southern Californians households. Yet, there is a current cohort of young Los Angeles-based artists that have committed their musical journeys to this music and its traditions and a new music project, titled Boleros de Noche, has created a music series to showcase these artists in public venues. The music series intends to celebrate and preserve this music genre for multi-generational audiences to enjoy and take part in this continued musical exploration.
VoiceWaves compiled a list of my favorite up-and-coming bolero bands that will melt your heart this Valentine’s Day weekend.
- Marisol y Los Hermanos Carlos
Marisol y Los Hermanos Carlos is a trio who met in the heart of Latino Los Angeles, La Placita Olvera, during their teenage years. Over 15 years later, the trio continues to be heavily involved in the Los Angeles music world. The trio is composed of Marisol Hernández and Pepe Carlos from the Grammy-winning band, La Santa Cecilia, and Roberto Carlos, a master guitarist who regularly plays throughout Los Angeles as part of several other trio groups. Given their years of musical experience, the sounds and instrumentation of this trio has become a distinguished Los Angeles treasure.
- Trio Ellas
Trio Ellas has been making waves with a unique sound that comes from traditional mariachi roots tempered by the melting pot of musical styles and genres that is the Los Angeles music scene. The trio’s debut album “Con Ustedes” earned them a nomination for a 2012 Latin Grammy.
The young trio is composed of Suemy Gonzalez (violin and vocals), a graduate of USC’s prestigious Thornton School of Music; Nelly Cortez (guitarron and vocals), a fourth generation mariachi musician; and Stephanie Amaro (guitar and vocals), a versatile musician who performs and records in genres ranging from electronica to mariachi. Trio Ellas’ musical expertise is reflected in their sophisticated sound and ability to create complex musical fusions.
- Grupo Bella
Grupo Bella is a six piece all-women band led by Vanessa Ramirez who arrived to Los Angeles in pursuit of her musical dreams. Composed of women from Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexicali and San Diego, Grupo Bella’s repertoire consists of sones veracruzanos, boleros, cha cha cha to traditional ranchera music. Collectively, band members are constantly dedicated to incorporating new elements into performances such as dance.
- Trio Alma y Alma
Trio Alma y Alma originated in Los Angeles and consists of Rocio Libertad Mendoza (lead singer), Gilberto Rodriguez (guitar/bass), and Jesus Martinez (requinto). The three piece band is on a journey to share bolero music with various people. Trio Alma y Alma performs a range of traditional boleros and Mexican folk songs handed down from family and ancestors. They revive romance, while sharing deep sentiments that touch the hearts of the young and the young at heart.
- La Victoria
While holding a strong foundation in Mexican folk music, La Victoria resonates a sound that reflects their city of Los Angeles. Mary Alfaro (guitar), Vaneza Calderón (guitarrón), and Rosalie Rodriguez (violin) combine their passion for mariachi music, diverse Latin-American genres and other sounds to produce a repertoire that has the ability to unite generations through music. In addition to their weekly residency at Las Perlas in downtown Los Angeles, these musicians play throughout the country and are involved in musical string production, studio recordings, and museum work.
- Andrea Zuniga
Andrea Zuniga is a Guatemalan who further developed her musical interests and following in Los Angeles. She began singing Canto Nuevo and Trova and then began exploring the bolero music genre and numerous other forms of traditional folk. She has interpreted this music with various Los Angeles-based music trios and has performed at numerous cultural and social justice-inspired events throughout the city.
This weekend, two of the trios featured on this list will be performing live at Boleros de Noche’s Amorcito Corazon concert on Friday, February 12th at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes. For more information you can visit La Plaza de Cultura y Artes’ webpage: http://bit.ly/23VQcYX. The Boleros de Noche music series was inspired by a deep appreciation, love, and commitment to this highly-treasured music genre.