“It’s about how we connect through the music”: Tarleton’s Latin Groove Culture Band
By Quanecia Fraser—
For Tarleton State University’s Latin Groove Culture Works band, performances are about emotional connection and community.
The Latin band performs popular songs by adding a Latin twist. They hosted a free concert that featured an Aretha Franklin tribute Tuesday night in the Fine Arts Center. Medleys of different songs including Franklins “I Say a Little Prayer” were a part of the performance.
Gunnar Bergan, a senior music performance major plays the conga and drums for the band. He says the Latin band is very different from any other band at Tarleton.
“This band prepares you and teaches you how to perform with a group without having to worry about what’s written on the page or something like that,” said Bergan. “It teaches you how to play the music, how to feel the music and how to actually perform.”
Bergan said performing is fun because of the audience interaction. Audience members are “encouraged to stand up, dance around and have a good time.”
Director Dr. Doug Tejada, an Emmy-nominated artist, performed in a band who opened for popular musicians like Kelly Clarkson, Kid Rock and Brian McKnight. Although he is retiring after the spring semester, he says he will miss his time as director of the Latin band.
“It was an honor to be able to share and do what I do, which is not classical,” he said.
Tejada said he brought up the idea of starting a Latin band when he interviewed for his position as an assistant professor in music business at Tarleton.
The band partners with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to be “musical outreach ambassadors to the Hispanic community,” said Tejada.
Tejada explained that “part of our mission is to go out and reach underrepresented communities that have no idea that college is even a real viable, possibility for them.”
Tejada wrote most of the transcripts for the songs performed Tuesday night. He said he thinks students like Bergan enjoy playing in the band because the focus of the band isn’t solely on music. Tejada actually advises band members to be more concerned about how much emotion they put into their performances.
According to Taylor Welch, a sophomore music performance major and trumpet player in the Latin band, “Dr. Tejada’s thing is he wants you to have fun playing before worrying about the right notes.
“The reason that my kids really love my ensemble is because I put music where it belongs which is not at the top of the chain,” said Tejada. “The top of the chain should be human interaction and how we emotionally feel about things. And if this song is making me emotionally happy, I should be displaying this through my stage persona.”
Tejada said he reminds his performers: “This is dance music. It’s meant to make you happy, it’s meant to make your body move. It’s meant to make you want to participate among the community.”