Spanish Rock Band Takes On Immigration In NPR-Featured Song

Apr 18, 2015

When Spanish rock band Lalo Cura lost the bid for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest two months ago, it didn’t look good. But that loss turned into publicity gold for the Goshen, Indiana group when they were picked up by another NPR show, Alt. Latino


Just like Alt. Latino itself, Lalo Cura doesn’t play your traditional Latin music fare. It’s a pop rock band fused with elements of jazz, country, and other influences. Lalo Cura will play a free show at Bell’s Brewery Thursday, April 23rd at 9 p.m.

Lead singer Rafael Chavez says the band tries to make their sound accessible for an audience that might not always understand the lyrics.

I grew up in Mexico where you don't grow up knowing English, for instance. Yet you learn to like the music that comes from like the Unites States or England. It's because the music is the thing that catches your ear. You know, you don't necessarily understand what they're saying yet you kind of fall in love with the music. And then because you're so into the music, then you start doing some research yourself and try to find the meaning of the song. So that's like one of the experiences that I want to...that we want people from here, from the United States that speak English only, we want them to have that experience.

For the NPR Tiny Desk Concert contest, Lalo Cura submitted their song "Testimonios," which is based on the real life experiences of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Chavez says when he started writing the song, it was about his own story. He immigrated more than 13 years ago and was working a late-night job while attending college. 

"It's a tough thing, you know, like to come here and then not knowing the language, first of all. And then dealing with the fear of getting caught," he says. "I mean, sort of being treated like a criminal without doing anything wrong necessarily, aside from violating those specific rules that apply to people who come into the United States illegally."

As he kept writing, Chavez included others' stories in the song - a few lines are written from the perspective of a parent being separated from his or her children. 

"To me, you know, I'm thinking of all of the friends that you make and people that you know that live the same way. And like, they still live in fear up until today. A lot of people don't have the same luck," says Chavez.