Bringing musica of the ‘real one’ north
Veronica Robles and her mariachi band play UNH Manchester
By Bill Copeland firstname.lastname@example.org
Mexico-trained singer and dancer Veronica Robles returns to UNH Manchester with her program “A Celebration Of Latin American Music and Dance.”
Robles is back by popular demand after wooing UNHM audiences last year.
Robles was born in northwestern Mexico but received her high school and college education in Mexico City. She uses the nickname La Mera Mera, which in Spanish means “The Real One.”
“In Mexico it’s a very popular expression to identify something or somebody as unique without being the best, like a unique style,” Robles said. “When I started to perform in New York, many singers were from different parts of South America or Central America, but none of them were Mexicans. The Mexicans used to say ‘This is the real one, La Mera Mera.’ Everybody started calling me La Mera Mera.”
Robles became interested in promoting Latin American culture when she realized that many American-born Latinos were unaware of the culture.
“My performing career started in Mexico, but I was very involved with different workshops on dancing, including my Mexican folk, but I also studied from workshops from Cuba, Colombia, and different parts of Latin America because I like it very much,” she said. “When I started coming to the United States, especially when I stayed in New York, I saw the lack of cultural identity among young people. They get mixed with this new culture and that makes them get a little lost. That’s the way I started thinking about it. When I came to Boston seven years ago, I started volunteering in Chelsea, Mass., to make a comprehensive program, including dance, singing and acting.”
Love and heartbreak are typical themes in songs Robles performs.
“We use music to express our happiness and sadness,” she said. “So many songs talk about heartbreak when you break with your loved one. Some of them talk about how much you love that person.”
This song style began during the Mexican Revolution, she said, when singers were like news broadcasters who used songs to let people know what was going on in neighboring towns. Singers would travel from town to town letting people know what was going on throughout the country.
Robles formed her band Mariachi Son de America with her husband, who is also her guitarist and producer.
“When I moved here from New York, I didn’t have any group, so I was more focused on trying to teach kids the culture. I put my music career in a pause. Through the years, I started thinking, ‘What happened with my singing career? I have to go back.’ I don’t like singing with recorded music. I don’t think that’s right for professional people. I’d like to do it the right way. I went looking for people because we don’t have mariachis here. So we started our own group with local people. We have trumpet, the guitarron, the Mexican bass, guitars and violins.”
Robles thinks her music and performance reach out across ethnic lines and can entertain people of all musical tastes.
“I think it’s because it’s so colorful,” Robles said. “In Mexico, when we do the twirling around, the dresses look so beautiful. And the music, I’d say we have many influences from different countries in Latin America. Some of the music sounds like polka or like German music when they go and drink their beer. That’s the feedback I have from people.”
UNHM’s director of student services, Regina McCarthy, said that part of the reason they wanted Robles to come back is that last year’s performance was so well received.
“The turnout by the community — both our college community as well as the greater Manchester community — was terrific, and the response from that turnout was equally terrific,” McCarthy said.
Robles’s performance this year is part of a new cultural program at UNH Manchester.
“We have just launched this year a college transition program for Latino students,” McCarthy said.