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Eugene Rodriguez and Friends

August 23 @ 6:00 pm

City Lights together with Heyday Books and Los Cenzontles present

Eugene Rodriguez and Friends

with special guests Davia Nelson (Kitchen Sisters), Robert Mailer Anderson (Boonville), Los Cenzontles Ensemble, and more TBA

Celebrating the publication of

Bird of Four Hundred Voices: A Mexican American Memoir of Music and Belonging
By Eugene Rodriquez
published by Heyday Books

From the founder of Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, a profoundly personal exploration of music’s power to build cultural bridges that last.

“Eugene teaches children the right music for the right reasons, not necessarily to be performers but to explore their own joys and sorrows. And then some might become professionals. I wish I had studied with him when I was growing up. Read this beautifully written book about culture, identity and resilience, and you will know why.” Linda Ronstadt

From an early age Eugene Rodriguez knew he was captivated by music. But he found himself encountering the same two problems again and again: the chilly rigidity of so much formal music education, and the underrepresentation of Mexican culture in American media. In 1989 he founded Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds), a group that offered music education to Bay Area youth, and that gave pride of place to Mexican musical traditions. Bird of Four Hundred Voices follows Rodriguez as he leads his young students from a California barrio to uncover their ancestral roots. From their home community in San Pablo, Los Cenzontles journey to fandangos in Veracruz, resurrect a lost mariachi tradition, and collaborate with luminaries like Linda Ronstadt, Lalo Guerrero, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, Flaco Jiménez, and Los Lobos. Rodriguez’s story offers an honest, deeply personal look at the cultural work that confronts historical oppression and joyously challenges cultural borders. And it is a profound celebration of the powerful influence of Mexico’s musical heritage on American culture.

Eugene Rodriguez is founder and executive director of Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, a nonprofit based in San Pablo, California. He formed Los Cenzontles in 1989. Rodriguez has produced over thirty albums and numerous films for Los Cenzontles, and he has collaborated with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Los Lobos, Lalo Guerrero, Ry Cooder, the Chieftains, and Taj Mahal. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. He is also the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including from the California Arts Council and United States Artists. He lives in Richmond, California.

Made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation


August 23
6:00 pm


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