Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fonseca: First Latin Artist Featured on the GRAMMY Museum Sound Stage

My Spanish isn't all that great, but my ipod is no stranger to Spanish-language music and rhythms. So when I heard that there was a Latin Grammy Award-winning artist - Fonseca, to be exact - at the GRAMMY Museum's Spotlight program, I was more than happy to be in the audience for that experience.

The audience was all a-buzz waiting for Fonseca to arrive. GRAMMY Museum Sound Stage events are great for both long-time fans and new ones alike - the setting provides long-time fans a greater sense of intimacy with one of their favorite artists and the interviews/music on the Sound Stage let new fans get to know the artist and their music right away.

Chief Curator Ken Viste did a great job interviewing Fonseca. He began with questions regarding Fonseca's musical influences - a little bit of the Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Columbian/Latin music. One of the best parts of questions related to the beginnings of an artist's songwriting are first songs. Fonseca's was about TV!

In his discussion with Viste, Fonseca elaborated a lot about his songwriting process. He has no particular method and generally doesn't like to push any song to reveal itself.

Much of the interview also touched upon Columbian music which, Fonseca expressed, had a lot of storytelling in it. He also discussed his (and other Colombian artists') desire to bring forth Columbian music to the masses, to show what a positive force it was, in light of other socially negative imagery that has emerged from the region.

Other artists I've seen at the GRAMMY Sound Stage have discussed specific aspects of American history and other regions of the United States in their interviews. Placing Fonseca's story as an artist, and one from Columbia, against these reveal differences, but ultimately similarities. The best thing about having gone to a number of these artist interviews is that a universality is revealed, the similar ways in which different artists make their music and the similar goals they each share, despite having different sounds, different audiences, and even different languages.

Fonseca's musical set - which had the largest band the stage has seen yet - was pretty amazing. His work holds as much diversity in sound as is revealed in his approach to life - "life inspires me". He had all the elements from the audience: foot-tapping, people dancing, people singing along. For those familiar with Fonseca's music, his setlist included "San Jose", "Gratitud", "Paraiso", and "Hace Tiempo". It was definitely a great start to Latin artists featured on the GRAMMY Sound Stage.

-Charity Tran

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