Colombian artist revels Latinx Heritage Month at TNL

Coming off a strong year of free, live concerts, the College Programming Board (CPB) and Ramapo Music Club (RMC) returned with their first Tuesday Night Live (TNL) of the school year. 

Three times a semester, the partnered organizations host a full-set concert in Friends Hall and bring in an up-and-coming artist to perform, taking a break from their regularly scheduled Tuesday night open mics in Padovano Commons.

This TNL was special, as it was co-sponsored with Ramapo’s Association of Latinos Moving Ahead (ALMA) and Organization of Latino Unity (OLU). Together, the four organizations created a special night of free authentic food and live music to honor and celebrate Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month. The star of the night was Matias, a bilingual Latin pop artist who conquered the stage with his two bandmates and eclectic visuals.

His 19-song set was upbeat from the moment he started with the 2018 single “Addictive” and ended with the currently unreleased song “Last Laugh.” Though these songs were accompanied with English vocals, most of his other songs throughout the night were fully in Spanish. Each song still held true to his unique sound that he likes to think of as something more than just pop and R&B, yet still channels his Colombian roots.

“Right now, music’s pretty much genreless, so anything could be considered pop or rock,” Matias said in an interview. “You’re getting all these fusions and blends of stuff together, so I don’t really like to box myself into one singular genre. I’m just kinda doing what I like and what I enjoy, and, you know, creating art.”

The concert’s crowd was small, but those who were there enjoyed themselves and appreciated the representation. The audience’s size didn’t break Matias’ confidence or performance either.

“It doesn’t matter how many people are in the crowd. The idea is to put on a show and put on a good show, no matter what,” he said. “You play for five people, you play for 5,000. You put the same energy in regardless.”

Matias loved that he was able to perform for this special night of representation and inclusivity. Most Latinx students on campus don’t see much representation, especially in the arts, so it was important to host a night that celebrates their culture.

“Other [TNL musicians are] all American or from here, so it’s nice to see the representation of different music, especially on campus,” said ALMA Event Coordinator Erik Varela Balcazar. “Music is another aspect of people’s lives, so it’s nice to see it and hear it.” He, along with other e-board members from ALMA and OLU, helped serve food from Chanos Latin Kitchen during the show.

In the past, the TNLs have mainly hosted predominantly white, indie rock bands. Though the shows have all been stellar and amplified rising artists, they have been lacking diversity in ethnicity and genre. 

“We do a lot of events, but I don’t think we have enough live entertainment events that highlight any cultural months,” RMC President and CPB Live Entertainment Chair Claudia Eligur said. “So a big mission of mine is to do this for other cultures as they come up. We had a Ukrainian cultural showcase last year, and I thought, ‘every event needs to highlight a culture somehow.’”

Planning and pulling off a concert is no easy task, yet Eligur, along with a few of her fellow board members, manage to do it successfully every time. It has helped her and her team become more efficient in preparing for the real world of music and working under pressure. Moving forward, she hopes to spread more diversity in their shows, especially in genre, and Matias is perfect proof that it is possible.

“It’s easiest to always book an indie rock band because those are the people that are kind of looking for this vibe of a gig,” she said. “Pop artists sometimes get intimidated, I think, by who has what equipment, but we have a lot of great equipment here at Ramapo. We can basically have any kind of show.”

Despite the tedious work of creating and managing each CPB and RMC event, Eligur and her teams are excited for the semester and year ahead.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather spend my Tuesday nights.”

Photo by Lydia Fries.