Amidst the smells of arroz con pollo and plátanos maduros fritos, people gathered in The Pub in Drew’s Ehinger Center for ARIEL’s last big event of the semester: a performance by Puerto Rican singer, bandleader and activist Taína Asili. Asili is best known for creating music for social change, with her music covering themes of liberation, anti-colonial resistance and ancestral remembrance. While she usually leads a 5 piece band, La Banda Rebelde, she only brought guitarist Gaetano Vaccaro to Drew with her. Even so, her infectious music and resistant lyrics filled not only The Pub, but the entire EC.
Throughout her performance, you could hear the different musical styles that have influenced her. From afro-latino rhythms, to reggae, rock, salsa and even flamenco, Asili’s music is truly a fusion, of, as her bio reads, “past and present struggles into one soulful and defiant voice.” Despite there being quite a big crowd, Asili made it feel like a family party with personal asides between songs.
Perhaps the song that most captures Asili’s essence is “No Es Mi Presidente,” a song written after the election of President Trump and performed at the Women’s March in Washington DC. Fusing Spanish and English with singing and rapping, Asili makes her talent as a poet, musician and performer known through this song. It seemed to be undoubtedly the audience favorite of the night. That is, until the last song.
COURTESY OF CAITLIN SHANNON
Although Asili admitted that she does not often do covers, she finished her set with a cover of the Marc Anthony’s “Aguanile,” a staple in the Puerto Rican music scene and of all Latino parties. The song got everyone up and dancing whether they had originally planned to ornot. Tables and chairs were pushed out of the way while people grabbed a partner and got up to dance. While Asili’s music had definitely created a sense of community among the crowd, this final song solidified it. Even those who did not consider themselves dancers couldn’t help but get up and join the fun.
Overall, the event was a major success in what has been a semester of great events from ARIEL. “Having Taina here was a remarkable and great way to celebrate latinidad on campus!” said Manny Lopez (’19), senior advisor of ARIEL. “She was amazing; her voice really had everyone captivated and her songs were so relevant to the message of equality and social justice that ARIEL stands for.” Make sure not to miss ARIEL’s next events: the semester’s last Café con Leche on April 11 at 7:45 p.m. in The Space and a General Board Meeting at 6 p.m. on April 25.