- November 27, 2019
On the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15, the makers of Barbie announced the creation of two “role model” dolls: Celia Cruz and Julia Alvarez.
Cruz was a Cuban-American singer and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century. In a career that spanned six decades, she became known internationally as the “Queen of Salsa.” Alvarez, 71, is a Dominican-born poet and writer, famous for her novel, "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents."
Indeed, Latin artists have influenced even the toy industry.
Here in Sarasota, Renesito Avich is a guardian of rich Cuban music heritage. He's a favorite among locals and considered a master of the tres, a traditional guitar with three courses of two strings each.
Sarasota resident Luis Comas follows Renesito to the venues at which he plays.
Comas immigrated from Cuba and after raising his family in Texas, decided to settle in Sarasota to join the 10,000 Cuban population here.
“When it comes down to music, especially Cuban music here in Sarasota, we are very fortunate to have a lot of well recognized talented artists, such as Renesito,” says Comas. “Renesito’s fame crosses borders.”
Comas adds that Sarasota also has other great musicians such as a group called Combo Fusion with artists such as Luis Alberto Rodrigues, Frank Alvarez, Braulio Martin and Pepe and Tony.
Renesito, 31, said that Cuban music is passed from generation to generation and his DNA proved so when he started to whistle before learning to speak.
By age 6. he started to sing and at 9 started to play the classical guitar. At 14, he fell in love with the Cuban tres and eventually it became his signature instrument. He went on to tour internationally with many of Cuba’s hottest musicians: Cesar Lopez, Pancho Terry, Tata Guines and more.
Avich made his move nine years ago to the United States in order to “expand musically, and the perfect opportunity came when my father asked me to stay with he and his wife who lived in Sarasota.”
Avich points to the northeast corner in Gillespie Park in Sarasota that has 22 statues of historic leaders from Latin countries such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Honduras, and more. The city of Sarasota donated the land and the association began construction of the gallery in May 1977.
One of the statues in the park is José Julián Martí Pérez, who lived from 1853 to 1895. He was a Cuban poet, philosopher, essayist, journalist, translator, professor, and publisher and is considered a Cuban national hero because of his role in the liberation of his country. He was also an important figure in Latin American literature.
“Latinos have always been a part of shaping the fabric of the U.S.,” Avich says. “We welcome the richness it brings to us all.”