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La Santa Cecilia // Live @ Scout Bar // 5.12.22

Article and Photos by: Ommar Ortuvia


Houston, TX — La Santa Cecilia is many things, but at the same time not – they sing in Spanish, but also sing in English; they play Latin-American music, but also play American rock and blues; they can make you happy and get up and dance, but also make you cry while chugging your beer; they play classical 1940’s style Boleros, but also play modern fusions – and it is this dichotomy that has made La Santa Cecilia become a unique musical experience. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, the Grammy-winning group played at the Scout Bar in Houston, Texas on the night of May 12th, to a crowd that varied from abuelitas in their huipiles to teens wearing metal band t-shirts.

As with most smaller venues, the concert started off with the band members walking nonchalantly from the back of the venue to take the stage, moving through the crowd who progressively became more and more excited to see the musicians gathering on set with their instruments. And when the main emblem of La Santa Cecilia, the lead singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez, came wearing her characteristic horn-rimmed glasses and bandana tied to her hair, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.

Their set kicked off with “Estrellita,” a cumbia that got the crowd moving and dancing to the enthralling beat. For the next 90 minutes the crowd was blessed with a mix of typical Norteño such as “Vamonos,” to then progress to the reggae-flavored “Hierba Mala,” to then “A Thousand Times,” a Mexican-tinged pop-rock tune, to later play the blues-rock “I Won’t Cry For You.” Between songs, La Marisoul would address the crowd talking about the songs they were about to play or thanking them and the venue staff for hosting them, switching seamlessly between English and Spanish, reflecting her and the other band member’s reality of having grown up with a Latin-American culture and household in the larger English-speaking American environment. Continuing their setlist and amalgamation of flavors and languages, a ranchera called “Me Estoy Volviendo Loca” brings up images of laying on the bar sulking about a lost love. Then the bolero “Odiame” with percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramirez playing a cajón along with the classic guitar-picking from José “Pepe” Carlos, evoking memories of grandparents dancing in the kitchen. 50’s rock was then summoned with a cover of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” to then finish off the first part of the set with the cumbia “Ella Me Enamoró.” Then a break before the encore, with the crowd incessantly chanting “otra” – another song-  culminating the night with the soulful and heart-wrenching “Como Dios Manda.”

As you can tell, La Santa Cecilia’s musical versatility can span many genres and decades. Several people in the crowd mentioned that despite not understanding the words, the emotion expressed by La Marisoul’s powerful voice, coupled with the tremendous talent and craftsmanship of the musicians, demonstrates that good music can transcend the language barrier. To the ones who are able to understand the lyrics in their native form, hearing about love, the loss of love, and the curses and blessings of growing up and living in two cultures, creates a lasting impression and many mixed emotions. One thing for certain is that La Santa Cecilia can be summed up with a quote of theirs from an interview with NPR: “We are as American as apple pie and tacos.”


Ommar Ortuvia
Merging my love of music and photography, I ended up here. No soy ni chicha, ni limonada.