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St. Albert celebrates retro Latin music and culture

St. Albert Latin Cultural Association showcases the vibrant tapestry of Latin music from the past

Every time St. Albert Latin Cultural Association hosts an event, it creates a cultural moment. Since its inception in 2022, SALCA has been on a mission to promote Spanish-language music that appeals to multiple generations.

As a fundraiser for their big August Latin Festival held in Lions Park, SALCA once again returns with Retro Latin Night at St. Albert United Church on Saturday, June 29. It is destined to be a night rooted in live Latin music, sensual dance and delicious Spanish cuisine.

“For this event, we thought it would be an interesting idea to incorporate elements of Latin culture coming from other places. In the old days we went to disco and not all concerts in the 70s and 80s were Latin music,” said SALCA president Jorge Vargas.

The evening features two tributes. Los Rebeldes Musicales salutes the great Carlos Santanas while Alexa Leon pays homage to Selena Quintanilla, a 23-year-old singer who won a Grammy Award but was later murdered by her business manager. In addition, DJ King returns to spin retro hits that express the emotions, passions, rhythm and movement of Latin music.

Los Rebeldes, a group of Jasper Place High School students with a musical toolkit far beyond their years, have taken on Carlos Santana’s portfolio. The seven musicians bring guitars, bass, drums, keyboard and vocals to the stage.

“We believe in promoting young talent and they are so in demand,” Vargas said.

But the band’s work is cut out for them. Santana, a musician who brought great feel and tremendous emotion to a composition, combined rock, jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms into a signature Latin sound.

The band will play a technically complicated 30-minute set of Santana tunes from the1969 Woodstock era. In fact, Carlos Santana’s first album, Santana, was released in 1969 and reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts. Once Santana played at Woodstock, he won international acclaim.

“We’re even going to dress like hippies, and we encourage people to wear their best retro attire.”

Alexa Leon’s tribute to Selena is instead rooted in nostalgia after her murder in 1995. The American singer was one of the first to elevate Spanish-speaking artists and promote Latin music to a wider audience. Her death devastated the public and many still mourn her loss.

“Selena had so much trust in people. That’s what everybody loved about her. She was so down to earth,” said Leon, a former music student at the University of Alberta who is transferring to business.

Leon will sing a medley of Selena’s hits that include Si Una Vez (If I Once Said I Loved You), Como La Flor (Like a Flower), Amore Prohibido (Prohibited Love) and Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, a fun song.

“She totally captures your heart. She gave beautiful performances you couldn’t take your eyes off. And as a person, she was so genuine. She was a people person. She wasn’t there for fame. She enjoyed sharing music.”

Leon also pays tribute to the disco era with a medley of 70s hits that include I Will Survive, Funky Town, Last Dance and On the Radio.

Doors to St. Albert United Church, Green Grove Drive, open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $23 and are available through eventbrite.ca.


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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