Called "the most uniquely innovative composer-performer of his time," Lalo Guerrero, since the 1930s, has captured the essence of the Mexican-American experience through his music. The recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lalo is a master of traditional Mexican “canciones tipicas” and of the ranchera style. Beyond that, Lalo has often produced songs that, while traditional in style, are in reality commentaries on current issues. His work is often bilingual, bicultural, and enriching. Lalo is one of eight surviving children of a large Tucson family. He learned music from his mother, an excellent singer and guitarist herself. As a youth during the Depression, he moved to Southern California to make his living as a musician and became immensely popular in the Mexican-American community. His Pachuco songs from the 1940s captured the era so well they were used in both the play and film by Luis Valdez, “Zoot Suit.” With his popular parodies, he has poked fun at stereotypes of Latinos, and at Latinos' stereotypes of themselves. Through his corridos, he tells of the triumphs and tragedies of our times from a Mexican American perspective.
I went to a restaurant in Palm Springs, California where I new that Lalo performed on occasion. He was expecting me and thought that the photoshoot would take place in the restaurant. Instead, I took him outside into the courtyard and asked him to sit on a stool and play one of his favorite songs.