Why are you so happy, Audrey? It’s…Monday.
Yeah, normally, Mondays are hard. In the words of my wise four-year old nephew, my sentiment is generally: “I don’t want to do Monday.”
But, today is different. Today, tengo el gran privilegio de introduce you to an amazing bilingual singer-songwriter for children, Andrés Salguero, or as his fans know him, ¡123conAndrés!
Today and Wednesday on the blog, we’ll get a chance to learn about his – and his wife, Christina’s – adventures in bilingualism, as well as learn about his fabulous music.
Plus, from now until Wednesday you’ll have the opportunity to win a copy of his release album ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! It’s awesome! E. and I listen to it TODOS. LOS. DÍAS.
(If you’ve been following the blog, you know that the past four Mondays I’ve been addressing some of the common misconceptions surrounding bilingualism. We’ll be back next Monday for the fifth – and final – myth.)
So, without further adieu, os presento a Andrés Salguero and his wife, Christina.
¡Vosotros! (You guys)
Let’s start with you, Andrés. Can you tell our readers where you’re from and what brought you to the United States?
I was born and grew up in Bogotá, Colombia. When I finished my undergraduate studies in Bogotá, I wanted to continue studying, and I also wanted to experience living somewhere besides my hometown, so I moved to the US for graduate school, first in Arkansas and then to Kansas City.
What have been some cultural differences that you have had to adjust to since moving to the United States? Now that you’ve been living in the USA for a while, do you consider yourself bi-cultural?
One thing I found here is that people like to plan things well in advance, and that was not something I was used to!
Another thing that was unexpected for me was that, in living in the US, I have come to have more connections with people from all over Latin American than would be the case if I were still in Bogotá. Since living here I have played with musicians from México, Chile, Perú, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other countries. We have friends and acquaintances from many countries in the region. So, ironically, being in the US I have a broader understanding of Latin American identity and culture than if I had never left Bogotá.
Having lived here for more than ten years, I do consider myself bi-cultural. I have learned how to navigate Anglo culture, while still being able to relate to other Latinos.
When and how did you and your wife, Christina, meet?
When I was in grad school in Kansas City, I was also gigging on the side. At one point, a family asked me to perform for their grandfather’s 80th birthday party. At that party I met Christina, who was a member of the extended family. So you could say that music has connected me with many opportunities in life – including meeting my wife!
Tell us a little bit about your musical background and training. How did you get interested in writing and performing music for children?
When I was very young, my dad found a community center that offered music lessons for kids, and he signed me and my brother up. It turns out that the teacher, Olga Lucía Jimenez, was a strong advocate for preserving folklore with children. In the group we learned traditional songs, and we even went on to record a kids music album, “El Ratoncito Marinero,” alongside musicians playing folk rhythms with harp, el tiple, el requinto and el cuatro.
Fast forward to about five years ago. In Kansas City while in grad school, I met my friend and mentor Dino O’Dell (http://dinoodell.com/). I had the opportunity to play in his band, and he introduced me to the contemporary kids music scene in the US, and I found playing for kids and families refreshing and fun. I had played in symphonies and rock bands, but my experience with Dino, perhaps combined with the foundation laid in my childhood, propelled me to develop my own kids music project. Now I perform at libraries, schools, festivals and other events for kids and families all year long.
Christina: in what ways do you collaborate with Andrés? Do you come from a musical background?
I don’t come from a musical background, but I have learned so much in the past five years! I sing on a couple of songs on the CD, and participate in performances. Behind the scenes, I enjoy being a sounding board for Andrés as he develops this project.
One of my favorite projects we’ve worked on together is our music videos, including “If I Had a Mariachi,” “La Clave” and “¡Salta, Salta!” We invite everyone to check them out on YouTube! I worked with him on envisioning, filming, and editing them.
I’m excited to announce that you have graciously offered your bilingual CD for a giveaway on the blog. Thank you! Can you give us an overview of your album? (By the way, my daughter and I love to dance to “La Clave” while eating breakfast in the mornings!)
Sure! My debut CD is self-titled, ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! All of the songs are original, and each in a different genre, including salsa, bachata, plena, mariachi, vallenato, bolero, champeta, and more, with vocals in both Spanish and English. Some songs, like “My Friend Manuel,” teach Spanish words, others teach something about the music, like “La Clave” which teaches the clave rhythm that is the heartbeat of salsa much, and others that are just fun to listen and jam with.