Los Herederos, an afro-Cuban band based in Miami, have made it their job to share Yoruba culture with the world. “My grandma always said I would inherit something. Of course, in that
The audience at Hoy Como Ayer on Thursday night was happy to receive this gift. It was Hialeah's San Lazaro Festival, and the six-piece band played a packed house in celebration of their beloved
The island’s saint is a mixture between Catholicism’s Saint Lazarus, a close friend to Jesus who revived him after dying, and Yoruba’s Orisha (the spirits who reflect the Yoruba Gods), Babalú Aye, who is invoked to heal health problems.
If you’re Cuban, chances are you can probably find a candle with his gaunt body and nurturing dogs lit somewhere in your home on December 17, the day of his physical death, but ascension to sainthood. Propped up on an altar next to Los Herederos, his suffering gives way to our bendición.
“I’ve had problems with my legs, I’ve been severely sick, I have a bone graft, a rod that holds my spine together because my lungs collapsed. Due to a lot of trauma in my life, I was unable to walk for quite a while. I have lupus, fibromyalgia, and I’ve had heart surgery,” says Carry Rodriguez, a
Rodriguez stands — a testament, she says, to the power of Babalú Aye — in front of El Rincon San Lazaro, a Hialeah Church founded in honor of Cuba’s own San Lazaro pilgrimage site.
Rodriguez’s story is like many you’ll hear at the two-day festival. Beginning on the víspera, (December 16) thousands flood the streets of Hialeah seeking communion with the giving saint.
“Being here is the least I can do to
Once San Lazaro weaved his way through Hialeah, Los Herederos took the stage at Hoy Como Ayer, where they conjured up rhythms reminiscent of Celia Cruz. The group's set included rumbas and folklores dedicated to Orishas, embodied by professional dancer and performer, Marisol Blanco.
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Her performance, in conjunction with Los
Despite Los Herederos’ devout faith, and the performance’s religious undertones, they are careful to note the difference between culture and religion. “This, what we’re doing here is culture. But, when we’re playing a toque in a house, that’s something religious. That’s sacred,” says Herederos singer and percussionist, who goes by El Buda.
It was a short set, clocking in at only one hour, but the group made sure to close with a classic Cuban conga. As we wormed our way through the crowd, we celebrated the physical reverberations, connecting with the spiritual through our bodies, remembering, as Philbert Armenteros mentioned, “Without health, there is nothing.”