La Santa Cecilia's Music About Home And The World

Marisol "La Marisoul" Hernandez, lead singer of La Santa Cecilia, answers a question during a post-concert discussion held by the Clark Humanities Museum at Scripps College. (Photo courtesy of Scripps Events)

La Santa Cecilia, a Grammy Award-winning band that fuses Latin culture with rock and world music, held an on-campus panel discussion Thursday Oct. 12, where they shared personal stories and their thoughts on current Mexican-American issues.

Lead singer Marisol "La Marisoul" Hernandez said when she was a kid, her only dream was to be a singer. At 15 years old, she was inspired by the singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s music and fashion, and afterward was determined to be on stage. “Selena brings power to me,” said Hernandez during the panel discussion.

While other kids her age socialized with friends, Hernandez spent eight hours on Saturdays and Sundays learning to sing. Her weekdays were spent listening to American music and rock music.

“I feel like I started singing professionally when I was 15, because at that time I realized I could make money and I could start the band,” said Hernandez. Ten years ago, Hernandez, along with Alex Bendana, Miguel "Oso" Ramirez, and Jose "Pepe" Carlos, created the band La Santa Cecilia, which is celebrating its anniversary this year at the Hollywood Bowl.

Bassist Alex Bendaña started playing music when his friend introduced him to traditional Mexican music at 12 years old. In the panel discussion, Bendaña said that in Los Angeles, the beautiful thing is that cultures mix – people can play traditional music mixed with rock music.

Bendaña has been involved in the band for about ten years. Through music, he wants to create his own sound to tell people about his own stories. For him, it has been ten great years growing, changing, developing together with other members in La Santa Cecilia, he said.

The percussionist, Miguel "Oso" Ramirez, began playing music when he saw his old brother play. He just listened and one day he was impressed by the sound of drums. Then he told his dad that he wants to play the drums. His parents brought him some drums so he could sit in his room for six hours at a time and practice. He wanted to be part of a band since he was 15. He dreamed of contributing something for the community and his hometown in Mexico. “Music can build a connection to our motherland,” said Ramirez.  

La Santa Cecilia has released six albums since 2009. The band received their first Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album Grammy Award for “Treinta Días” in 2014.

Besides four members in La Santa Cecilia, photographer Piero F. Giunti also shared some of his work in the panel discussion. Raised in Burbank, California, Giunti and his colleagues have interviewed and taken photos for 200 bands in East LA.