Tribute to Afro-Cuban music diva

Tribute to a diva: Cuban songstress La Lupe is being honored with a tribute concert at City College Center for Performing Arts on June 9.

The revival of a trendsetting diva.

The artistry of Afro-Cuban singer La Lupe is going to be celebrated with a musical concert paying homage to her life at the City College Center for the Arts (CCCA) on June 9. Together City College, Pregones Theater, and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) organized a series of events to celebrate the singer, which will conclude with a concert. Known as a trailblazer during a time when women were restricted in the arts, La Lupe’s presence and pride in her identity should be honored, said the founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.

“She is important because many women didn’t make it trying to enter a very male-dominated field, and the women that did were on the margins and never got the attention or due they should’ve got from within the Latin community and outside,” said Dr. Marta Vega.

But standing tall in her individuality and self-hood as an Afro-Latina singer, La Lupe prioritized her unique identity. This act helped the singer become a standout artist, added Vega.

“The fact that she centered herself and propelled — she became a personality,” she said.

The two-hour concert features three performers — Caridad de La Luz “La Bruja,” Nina Rodriguez, and Calma Carmona — who are going to showcase their own take on La Lupe, by singing covers of her songs, said Vega.

“They are paying tribute to her, and not by imitating her or trying to sound like her — but they’ll be paying tribute in their own form,” she said.

La Lupe on stage in Cuba during a performance.
Troyano, Inc.

And a special appearance will be made by Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez of the Tito Puente Orchestra, a band that La Lupe often performed on stage with.

The overall highlight of the concert will be focused on the way La Lupe pushed forth her ancestry and her pride in being black, Latina, and Cuban. When the singer arrived to New York City in the 60s she faced several challenges but remained content in who she was, said CCCA’s managing director.

“The performers are going to make that connection between La Lupe and the African Diaspora,” said Gregory Shanck. “Not only was she Latina but she was of African descent and she loved her music. Cuba did not always love her, but she loved her culture and her Cuban heritage.”

Vega also adds that it is important to resurrect La Lupe’s name for the culture’s sake because her visibility it is needed to educate the younger generation, and show them the pioneers who paved the way for Latin music.

“We need to know our stories, and if we don’t know our stories we will continue to be misinformed,” said Vega. “The reason we have the center partner with Pregones and City College is because we need to insist upon a learning and educational process, and build our culture. We have to take on the responsibility of talking about legacy and the people who make a difference or it will be erased.”

“An Evening of Music Honoring the Legacy of the ‘Queen of Latin Soul’” at Aaron Davis Hall at the City College Center for the Arts [129 Convent Avenue between W. 133rd and W. 135th streets in Manhattan,, (212-650-6900]. June 9 at 7:30 p.m. $25–30.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]
The singer during a studio close-up.
Troyano, Inc.

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