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Carnaval: Raising Latin American and Youth Voices

Above image: Above image of Making Movies by Cody Boston

With support from dozens of national, international, local and youth artists, Making Movies’ Carnaval has gained notoriety for highlighting and elevating Latin American artists in Kansas City. This weekend, the group caps its inaugural Carnaval tour with its largest event yet.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Knuckleheads complex will transform into an arts and music lover’s haven — with three stages of music, folkloric dance troupes, a Latin writer’s collective, a drum safari, an artist’s corner and even a moon bounce for the kids. In addition to Making Movies, musical entertainment includes Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the first all-female Mariachi band to win a Grammy; Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba, a multi-Latin Grammy and Juno Award winner; Panamanian alt-rock sensation Señor Loop on its first tour of the U.S.; and regional artists Los Parranderos (Des Moines, Iowa), Hobo Cane (Nashville, Tennessee), local Latin soul artist Mandy B and captivating local multi-instrumentalist Eems.

But as much as Carnaval is a celebration of arts and culture, it is a chance to directly invest in the future talent and diversity of the local arts community.

“Every penny from ticket sales goes directly to our new nonprofit, Art As Mentorship, which will allow us to create an innovative program for young songwriters,” Making Movies’ frontman Enrique Chi said. “We need support to impact these kids, and you can do it by attending the most diverse concert experience on the Kansas City calendar.”

In a collaboration with the Mattie Rhodes Center, Making Movies had previously run a week-long youth music education camp. Each year, the camp culminated at Carnaval, where students would get a public stage to present what they had learned. But Making Movies soon recognized a need for a more long-term, sustainable way to raise the voices of the city’s youth — many of them from low-income immigrant populations — so Chi established Art As Mentorship in 2017.

“The funds raised will allow us to launch a brand-new three-month program for young songwriters,” Chi said. “It will give these young songwriters amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.”

One of these exclusive opportunities will allow students to record with Making Movies’ producer Steve Berlin, a member of Los Lobos and a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee. They’ll also receive fundamental building blocks of music education and entrepreneurship, allowing them to raise their voices with confidence and professionalism. The pilot program, a partnership with 90.9 The Bridge, launches at the radio station’s studio this fall.

Tickets for Carnaval are available.

Michelle Bacon writes about music for 90.9 The Bridge and plays drums and bass in bands. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @michelleobacon.


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