The Corrido of LA - The Jam Session

April Kills

It is not a typical day for a teenager to wake up knowing that you will be performing live with LA's great Ozomatli. For Erendira, Arthur, Angel, April, and Mike, five students from LA Leadership Academy, this was their reality. This talented group was selected amongst hundreds of applicants who participated in the Corrido of LA competition. The Departures Youth Voices program included this contest in our curriculum for the LA River installment. And two of our students' entries were selected. (Click here to read more about the corridos that were selected). Before I get into the details of our students' amazing experience performing live, I want to flashback to a week preceding the event where there was tremendous excitement upon hearing the news that two of our students' selections were picked to participate in the event.

This news was shared with the entire school community where there were articles written in the school newspaper, the songs were played on the school radio, and even groupies emerged from the younger grades to design graffiti baseball caps with LOS GEEKZ spray painted on them.

The news then spread even further. Our students were interviewed in the Spanish publication, Hoy, and both songs were mentioned and played on KPCC.

The day of the Corrido of LA event happened to be a beautiful rainy Saturday afternoon in December - one of the first rains of the season. High school and middle school students from all over the city came together at LACMA's Bing Theater and celebrate the bicentennial of the Mexican Revolution, performing their own written Corridos with the help of Ozomatli.

Ilona Katzew, LACMA curator of Latin American Art, explains the origins of how the event came together.













Josh Kun, an Associate Professor at USC's Annenberg School of Communication, and one of the organizers for the Corrido of LA, discusses the origins of the Corrido, why it was selected as the musical genre for the event, and how it relates to youth today.













One of our students, Erendira Hernandez, opened the event with her poem. Here she talks about the feeling of getting up in front of her peers and students from several other schools in Los Angeles.














Here is her performance:













At the end of the event, Los Geekz came on stage to perform their infamous Change is Coming. Here, I am interviewed, discussing the excitement of the day and being able to capture their rehearsal with Ozomatli before the show.













Arthur, Angel, Mike, and April discuss the meaning of their song.













And here is their performance.













Ironically and most unfortunately, this day happened to have occurred the same day that the US Congress voted against the Dream Act, an potential opportunity for undocumented students to be able to go to college in the United States. Josh Kun discusses the implication of this legislation and how it touched upon the days' event.













The Corrido of LA was an incredible moment of time where students from all over LA were able to share their voices and stories with each other. I was extremely moved by the power of bringing youth together from around the city. Here are my final remarks on this glorious, yet bittersweet day.













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