Good afternoon students from the Mabarak jazz school and students from Universidad Veracruzana. A special thank you to Harry Grappa Guzman, Secretary of Tourism and Culture of the State of Veracruz, Sara Ladrón de Guevara, Rector of the Universidad Veracruzana, Rodolfo Mendoza, Director of the Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura, Ana Lilia Saldaña, Coordinator of Difusión Cultural at Universidad Veracruzana, Enrique Ceja, and everyone that worked hard to make this event possible.
I would also like to express my gratitude to Jenn, Leigh Ann, Will, Anthony and Kevin, members of the zydeco band Mo’Mojo, for choosing Mexico as one of the countries in their Latin America tour. As you will learn over these few days in Veracruz and Yucatán, the Mexican public is a very engaging audience and warmly shows their deep appreciation for foreign artists.
Thank you all for being here on a Saturday afternoon. Living in this beautiful coastal city, I’m sure you could be at the beach, but I assure you, it will be worth your while. You will have the opportunity to learn more about a very interesting U.S. genre of music, zydeco.
My mother was an opera singer, pianist and music teacher, so ever since I was a young boy, I learned to appreciate music as an art form and skill. The US embassy and consulates in Mexico also firmly believe that music is an international language that allows us to connect across borders and cultures. I’m sure you young musicians and students have already witnessed the ability of music to transcend differences and boundaries. We bring music ambassadors, like Mo’Mojo, to create new avenues of communication and to engage audiences like yourselves. If you enjoy hearing about U.S. culture, I invite you to visit Louisiana and see a live zydeco performance, or explore graduate studies or participate in in a student exchange in the U.S.
I know Mo’Mojo will explain more about zydeco music, but I want to ask you- who here knows what is zydeco music? (Pause to allow them to respond.) Let me give you a brief preview: zydeco is the music of Southwest Louisiana’s Black Creoles, a group of people of mixed African, Afro-Caribbean, Native American and European descent. This society is traditionally rural, French-speaking and is somewhat intertwined with the Cajun culture. I know that Veracruz has a very rich music history as well, and I am hoping that my new friends in Mo’Mojo will have a chance to learn from you all during their stay in your fascinating state.
Did you know February is Black History Month? This is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the significant contributions they have made in the US. Tolerance and diversity are important values in the United States, ones that we share with all of you. In celebrating the many cultures that enrich our countries, we are celebrating the very foundations on which they are built. Mo’Mojo’s visit to Mexico at this time gives us the opportunity to highlight both zydeco music and celebrate the diversity that distinguish Mexico and the United States from many other countries in the world.
I want to thank you for welcoming me to the Teatro de la Reforma, it is a beautiful place. And before I say goodbye, I want to invite all of you to the free concert Mo’Mojo will be performing here, tonight, at 7:00 pm, so please stick around.