As I checked my schedule of for the month, I realized that I was performing at an adult day care next week. It would be the third time this year which meant that a new repertoire would be required. There are a lot of Cuban grandmothers there that often delight in the joys of hearing me speak what little Spanish I know. It would also be welcomed if I could perform more songs from Cuba. While I did reach out to a colleague for assistance some time ago, more research was necessary. Which songs out of this book would connect with my audience? Which tune would transport them to a time of joy in their previous residence? Something dawned on me.
There was a valuable resource within a a city not far from me. He was born and raised in Cuba and was often called upon to sing with his ensemble at local events. He is steeped in the knowledge of music and many things Cuban, I called him and asked if I could pay him a visit. Upon arrival, he welcomed me with open arms as we sat at his table. I began to explain what I wanted to do. As we reviewed the list together, certain songs brought out priceless emotions. His wife happily chirped in with a harmonies upon hearing some of the words as well. When he saw the video of me performing one of these songs, tears came to his eyes. This is what I needed. I knew that I had to sit at the feet of an elder that had the wisdom to share if only one were to seek it out. This was not something that could be accomplished with texting because it was a real time experience. When we finished, I thanked both him and his wife for their assistance. He said to me, ” You can always call me. I will be right here to help you.”
The experience was quite moving to me. The very experience that I was looking to create was the one that I witnessed in the middle of the research. As I continue to connect with people, it will be important for me to spend more time amongst those that know first hand what is treasured. It brings a richness to my life as well as a human touch that can not be expressed in mere words. It requires feeling.