Throughout the days prior to the most anticipated night of the week, I thought about how grateful I was to be able to see Aida Cuevas perform with my parents here in Michigan. On that evening, the sun had set into a dark blue sky and crowds of bundled-up people walked towards the Hill Auditorium to enter the event. My parents and I stopped at one of the glass showcases outside of the auditorium to take a picture with an event poster of Aida Cuevas; she stood proudly in a traditional mariachi suit, looking up and smiling in the light of green and red that surrounded her. Iconic, I thought to myself; I would come to know that the essence of the photo wasn’t exaggerated in any way.
Once the doors opened, my parents and I took our seats on the main floor, sitting fairly close and off to the side nearest to stage left. We had another nearby concertgoer take our picture with the stage behind us and I couldn’t help but notice that it was already glowing a dark red. Throughout my life, I have noticed that color in its waving flag, on the accessories worn by the mariachi, in the dress of a woman celebrating her quinceanera, and in the fireworks that burst over the hills of Mexico City with each end to the week. That color has an extraordinary essence that more represents the aspects of traditional Mexico that have persisted throughout several generations. In that respect, I knew that this performance would not be a mere interpretation of what was authentic but would truly be the living, breathing authentic art that upheld the traditional roots of Mexico as if they would never fade.
Finally, the lights dimmed for the performance to begin. Within a few seconds, the lights on the stage burst bright in a golden orange color and the mariachi made a robust entrance, kicking up the beat immediately and the several violinists already sounding as if there were a whole sea of them. The music felt so much like home and the Mexico that I knew, and my eyes stung. I could hear my parents cheering beside me, my dad howling like traditional mariachi players do as a way to cheer on the rest of the performers.
Soon after, Senora Cuevas made her entrance, showered with applause and cheers as she moved towards center stage in her big, illuminescent magenta dress. She performed each song with raw emotion, dramatizing each word and showing pure passion with each hand motion that emphasized the grand sounds of the band. Near the middle of the performance, she changed into a mariachi traje, which everyone adored as much as the dress. Her deep voice cut through the air with each ballad and I consistently felt comforted by its richness. She presented herself as a such a powerful woman figure, demanding true love and sharing the pride of being Mexicana in her songs. She returned for an encore and finished the performance with “Mexico Lindo y Querido”, a timeless classic that resonates pride and love for belonging to Mexico. As a final remark, she exclaimed, “Estoy muy orgullosa ser mexicana!” and in that moment, I was reminded of the beautiful sensation that comes with being authentic to yourself and being proud of where you come from.