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La Santa Cecilia Rocks NYC's Highline Ballroom During Hispanic Heritage Month, Watch Exclusive Soundcheck

First Posted: Sep 25, 2014 02:52 PM EDT
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Grammy-winning, L.A.-based Mexican-American band La Santa Cecilia has become one of our favorites here at Latin Post, so when we got word of the band coming to the Big Apple to rock the Highline Ballroom during Hispanic Heritage Month, we just had to pay them a visit.

In an exclusive interview with backstage access during the band's soundcheck on Sept. 18, Latin Post reconnected with the band after meeting them at the Pachanga Latino Music Festival in Austin as well as at the LULAC Unity Luncheon at the national convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

During the LULAC Unity Luncheon, the band captivated 1,500 Latino and political leaders, including first lady Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez, with its rendition of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (along with the premiere of its animated music video) and Marisol "Marisoul" Hernandez's take on the National Anthem.

"We were really happy that LULAC invited us to be a part of the luncheon that they were having with Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez, and that they also were really excited to let us premiere the video there," Hernandez told Latin Post. "We love LULAC; they have always been great supporters of the band. They are a great organization for all that they do for youth and Latinos. It's always great to work with them."

Hernandez recalled how honored she was to meet the first lady in person. "She was really nice. It was a great experience, I never thought I would meet her in person," she explained.

La Santa Cecilia, which won a 2014 Grammy for Best Latin Rock and Alternative Album for "Trenta Dias" (30 Days), is named after the patron saint of musicians, and they indeed feel blessed. The band, which also includes accordionist and requintero Jose "Pepe" Carlos, bassist Alex Bendaña and percussionist Miguel Ramirez, is thrilled to take "Strawberry Fields Forever" to a new place.

The Beatles' 1967 hit "Strawberry Fields Forever" ("Los Campos de Fresas") is the second single from La Santa Cecilia's critically-acclaimed new album, "Someday New."

Carlos explained to Latin Post that the band's spin on "Strawberry Fields Forever" and its animated video (created by graphic artist Jose Andres Gutierrez Rivera) really captured the origin of strawberries and how they arrive to our tables due to the hard work of migrant farm workers who tend to the strawberry fields.

"Definitely, I think it did," he said. "We have been playing the song ever since the band started because we would play the song to cover our set because we didn't have enough songs of our own, and we were really big Beatles fans," Pepe explained. "As the band started traveling out of Los Angeles and up to San Jose or Santa Barbara, they witnessed migrant workers hard at work as Hernandez was listening to the Beatles tune. "That day it took on a different meaning as we saw the strawberry fields and the farm fields."

"We would just mention this connection at our performances," Hernandez added, "so whenever we would perform, we would explain this to the crowd, like 'hey, remember where your food come from.' It's sometimes so easy to forget and think that everything is just from grocery store, pero viene de un lugar (but they come from another place)."

"It comes out of the ground and into hard-working hands, which are usually migrant workers,'" Hernandez said. "It was a way of connecting it ... and making the video was to visually connect our feeling of how this Beatles song connected us in another way."

La Santa Cecilia says they feel honored to have been able to get the rights to record the iconic Beatles tune and put it on their album," "Someday New."

"We go to pay homage to the Beatles with our interpretation of the song. We were really happy about it," she added.

While "Strawberry Fields Forever" has resonated with their fans, the animated video, which the band is "very proud of," the song has struck a chord with children as well.

"Now kids come to our shows with construction paper strawberries or drawings of strawberries, and that just makes me feel so good," Hernandez said. "One, they are kids and they are listening to a song by the Beatles, interpreted by us, but also this is a way for them to understand where their food comes from and to feel proud of coming from immigrant parents."

Carlos is an undocumented immigrant and beneficiary of President Obama's deferred action for childhood arrivals, which gave deportation relief to young immigrants brought to the country as children. He was recently featured in the California Endowment's #Health4all campaign.

"I think everybody has been really awesome and really supportive," percussionist Miguel Ramirez told Latin Post. "It's just a crucial time right now for us. We always say that we're not politicians, but as artists we can try to humanize an issue that is stuck in the litigation of politics. We want to take it out of being stuck and make sure that people understand that we are talking about human beings, immigration reform and about immigrants. We want to make sure that people understand that these are fathers, mothers, children and families that are just here to try and make a living, and just make a better life."

"It's great that we have the possibility of putting it out there as a band," Carlos added. "It's important that everyone is informed because it's not just about one band making a difference, but I think it's about everyone making a difference. We're just exposing something that needs to be changed, which is immigration reform.

"I'm really happy because I was recently approved and I was able to get my residency, but that doesn't fix everything. There are 11 million people still out there who need immigration reform. We are just spreading the word."

Listen to the full "Latin Post Exclusive Backstage Pass - Soundcheck" at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on Sept. 18, 2014.

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