This summer is a time for celebration, and Sol y Canto’s upcoming performance at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center provides the perfect opportunity on Thursday, July 29. The Pan-Latin ensemble is led by Puerto Rican–Argentinian singer and bongo player Rosi Amador and New Mexico guitarist and director and composer Brian Amador.
Their story began in 1984, after coming back from a cultural exchange trip to Nicaragua. Rosi recalls, “People were really interested in hearing about our experiences there, because it was a controversial time during our and their country’s history. People were trying to shape destiny into their own hands during the dictatorship. We found that very inspiring. We decided to sing some of their songs here, and Brian started writing others inspired by our experiences there.”
In the beginning, the group primarily played for political events around Central America. Brian picks up: “Before we knew it, we started to get called for more and more performances, and we spread out to regular clubs and performing arts centers.”
With time, their focus changed a bit. “Our message became more generalist. We feel we now sing a very universal message. Sometimes we do get very specific to what is going on in Latin America. We see ourselves as ambassadors of Latin music because we play primarily in this country. We are completely bicultural and bilingual, and we like to translate the lyrics into English to make sure that people understand what we are singing, and write songs in all different Latin rhythms because we love our music,” says Rosi.
The only live concert the group did during the pandemic was on the Island, where their family has been coming for more than 30 summers. It was a benefit for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. Rosi explains, “Music is a spiritual need for many of us. Folks were seated 25 feet away from us and 10 feet from one another outdoors at Featherstone Arts Center. People were starving for live music, so the capacity of 50 was reached in a day. It was so joyful for us, even though we could barely see people’s eyes. We could see their smiles, claps, and hollering. People were dancing and it practically brought tears to my eyes.”
They will perform songs from their new CD, which was recorded live in a concert with their daughter, Alisa Amador, who now performs a lot on her own here. There will also be new original compositions by Brian and covers of Latin music by contemporary and older composers.