Grammy-winners Ozomatli, La Santa Cecilia to headline CIW’s Concert for Fair Food!

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Grammy Award-winning artists/longtime social activists set to perform at March 21st concert…

In 1995, an unknown farmworker organization by the inelegant name of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers exploded onto the scene with a community-wide general strike in Immokalee, Florida.  Taking over the central parking lot in town where workers would gather before dawn in search of day labor (below, right), thousands of farmworkers came together to disrupt decades of farmworker poverty and abuse and to launch a call for “Dignity, Dialogue, and a Fair Wage.”  The struggle born that day would strikeeventually give rise to the Campaign for Fair Food in 2001, and later to the Fair Food Program, an award-winning, worker-driven human rights initiative that has won unprecedented gains for tens of thousands of farmworkers since its implementation in 2010.

Also in 1995, across the country in Los Angeles, young people working for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps organized to form a union, a campaign that led to the take-over of the building in downtown LA where the Corps was housed.  During the course of what would ultimately become a year-long occupation, the workers converted the building into a thriving community center and, as the weeks turned into months, some of the workers began to organize impromptu concerts to animate their friends and fellow workers.  Among the musicians were the original members of the musical group Ozomatli (pictured at the top of the post), and the band they launched in that community center would go on to win two Grammy Awards and one Latin Grammy,  becoming legends of the live music scene in LA and a powerful voice for social justice in the process.  

Fast forward to the present.  Twenty years after their respective beginnings in anonymous struggle — on March 21, 2015, to be exact — the long and unlikely trajectories of those two community movements will finally intersect, as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Ozomatli join forces in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the first ever Concert for Fair Food, calling on Publix and Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program and help advance farmworkers’ human rights!  

After nearly a year of planning, the star-studded lineup for the much-anticipated concert has come together, and we are thrilled to announce that not only will Ozomatli be there, but they will be joined by fellow Grammy winners La Santa Cecilia and Atlanta’s own Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics!  

Here below we have compiled a quick profile of our three headliners.  Take a look and check back in the days ahead for more on the incredible line up of artists and on all the plans for what is sure to be an unforgettable Parade & Concert for Fair Food!

Ozomatli

With multiple Grammys — as well as numerous other awards and recognitions — under its collective belt, Ozomatli has carved out a career as one of the most entertaining and socially-conscious musical groups of this generation.  The seven-piece rock band’s style is an eclectic mix of mostly Latin, hip hop and rock, peppered with salsa, jazz, funk, reggae and more.  They have toured internationally, collaborated with the Boston and New York Pops orchestras, and served as Cultural Ambassadors for the U.S. State Department.  They even headlined the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa in 2013, drawing thousands of loyal fans from the Tampa area as they do wherever the travel these days (and laying the groundwork for what should be a great show later this month!).  But for all their success, Ozomatli’s roots are still firmly planted in their hometown of Los Angeles, where two decades ago a seed was planted in community action and has flowered since into a thriving, musical hybrid of ever-shifting cultural styles and expressions.

La Santa Cecilia

In the past two years, La Santa Cecilia has rocketed to national fame both for their upbeat sound and their commitment to raising consciousness about the struggle and invaluable contributions of immigrant workers in the U.S.  For their full-length studio album, Treinta Días, the group won a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album in 2014.  Most recently, the group released a thought-provoking music video, covering the Beatles’ classic, “Strawberry Fields Forever,”  as an homage to the workers who harvest one of the country’s most popular fruits.  In the words of the lead singer, Marisol Hernandez:

“It’s a trip that a song that was made by these four Brits turned into something that I feel connected to with migrant workers and the beauty of their work,” Hernández continued. “I guess it’s a way for us to acknowledge their work, and for people to just kind of remember where all our amazing fruit comes from.  It’s so easy to just grab at grocery stores but it comes from somewhere else and it’s always think it’s nice to acknowledge the people behind-the-scenes.”

Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics

Atlanta’s own Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics will open the concert with their original blend of socially-charged Georgia soul.  With roots in Florida, the group has been on the forefront of reviving and reclaiming soul and R&B music in the 21st century, performing everywhere from South by Southwest in Austin to Bluesapalooza in California to the historic Blue Note club in New York.  Their widely-acclaimed single, “It’s About Time,” topped the iTunes R&B charts with over a quarter million downloads.  

With that amazing lineup, we’re ready to pump up the volume on the Campaign for Fair Food — and we hope you’re ready to join us!  If you haven’t had a chance to head over to the Concert website to register, take a moment to do so.

Stay tuned for more on the star-studded Concert lineup in the days to come…