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Eljuri: a life in La Lucha

A woman arrives on stage. It is not very tall and rather thin. The roadie asks him where his guitarist is, and she replies that she plays the guitar leader of his grouping. Then they ask him where his acoustic guitar is, and to the surprise of the staff he takes out of his case a Gibson Les Paul who knows how to connect and prepare to perfection. But the surprise for the staffdoes not end there, because when he starts to play it, with a dexterity that reminds Santana himself, the whole team is left with the mouth open. She, with her hair as rebellious as her spirit, her intelligent and combative lyrics, her powerful and inspiring voice and that way of playing the guitar that makes the stage come to life, creates sounds that give the audience and macho prejudices that, whether you like it or not , we all have roots. Her name is Cecilia Villar Eljuri, leader of "Eljuri", recognized Ecuadorian artivista who has lived all her life in New York.

Eljuri's history of art and rebellion began, it may be said, before his birth. His parents, director Paco Villar and actress Olga Eljuri met during the filming of "They Met in Guayaquil", released in 1949 during the golden years of Ecuadorian cinema. He Spanish and she Lebanese, married and only told the family when they were already married and nothing could be done. And from there, Cecilia is in the fight. He arrived at the music listening to his mother, who is also a composer, playing the piano. Tangos, boleros, waltzes, corridors .... Later, he learned of rock, punk, funk and reggae with his brothers and of Afro-Cuban music thanks to his father.

Their first groups were called Trouble Dolls and Fiesta, in which it was guitarist and composer. At that time, his sound was punk, and although the label of that sound is still alive in his music, he now explores his Latin and Lebanese roots, not forgetting rock, reggae, funk and punk. Their first solo album was born in 2008, it was called in Paz and it dealt in particular in social subjects with sounds mainly of world music . In his second album is called "Fuerte" and it is a more rock work in which he makes a call to get up to fight for the rights, participated Mario Muñoz and Sergio Acosta of Doctor Krápula, in a song called "Ya es hora", a song about post-traumatic stress. "

Her third work, "La lucha", released last year, deals with topics such as terrorism, violence and immigration while exploring more deeply the Latin sounds like reggae, produced by herself. Social issues are the constant of their work, as their intention is to support all those who want to get up. In the work they participated great musicians friends of Cecilia, like Alex Alexanderen the Drum and the Percussion, Johnny Pisano and Tracy Wormworth in the bass, and Steve Sandberg in the piano. Also, they participated Sly & Robbie, the Jamaican duo accompanying it in "I want to know". He created the models and arrangements in his home studio to record later in several studios of New York, the mastering mix was in charge of Gustavo Berner and she was in charge of the production. The work was released under the label Manovill Records with executive production and art design by Alexandra Gatje. All songs are by Cecilia, except for "indifference", whose lyrics were written by her mother, Olga Eljuri de Villar.

The diversity in its sounds was due to its peculiar mix of nationalities: It is in full rule an immigrant in one of the most diverse cities on the planet. Born and with family in Ecuador, of Lebanese and Spanish descent and raised in New York in the midst of different cultures and with the liberal education of her parents, who taught her about inclusion, tolerance and love for difference from her childhood. So in that particular mix he listened to Bob Marley, The Clash, Neil Young next to what sounded in his home. It was only logical that his music reflected that vision of the world. It feels Neoyorkina, despite its diverse roots.

But music is not the only way to fight for the rights you know. For her, although each artist must find her own voice and no one is really obliged to carry ideologies in their songs, she has found that art is a great opportunity to inspire and create awareness. In the face of crisis, artists can use their voice to achieve a language of peace that goes beyond words and can cross borders. She decided to unite art with activism, be an artivist and use her voice and her strength to fight for the rights of those who have not found their own voice.

Eljuri grew up seeing poverty problems New York amid the city's great diversity, also saw the crisis because of water shortages in his country (in fact, he works in Water Ecuador, who seek to bring potable water to the population). He understood that with his music he can get people to vote and demand their rights, particularly the Latino population, underrepresented in the government, but who is already the majority of the minority. As an artist, she participates in Voto Latino, and organizes workshops for young artists in which she helps them find their own voice. She does not work with a particular cause, but rather gives her art, work and heart to the struggles she feels right in her heart, regardless of whether they are social, political, cultural, environmental ... for her, everything is part of the same package and claim justice and equality.

He even co-led the organization of the recent Women's March in New York on February 21, where, along with a small group of just a few volunteers, they received about 800,000 people on the march. However, it was not a feminist march, it was a kind of new feminism that also welcomed men, who rather than being a march against the Trump government, was in charge of being a march for the rights claim of all the minorities that they need to be heard, particularly women.

It should also be noted that the march took place before Trump arrived at the Oval office, and that there was no incident or even a single arrest during the event. This, no doubt, shows that a march that is not hate but purposeful can accomplish great things, such as uniting hundreds of thousands of people in a completely peaceful, with the support of the police and in complete harmony with the city and the law. A great inspiration to continue working on the three lines with which he seeks to contribute to the community: Education, activism and empowerment through marches.

He also knows that his artivism enters a key and decisive moment. She herself descends from Arabs, is Latina, immigrant and woman, basically everything that the current president of EE. UU. She hates. However, this aggression against "minorities" for her is more of an opportunity. The arrival of a person like Trump to power shows the importance of the union, so much that it managed to unite and mobilize people, motivate them to talk and get up.

And although the situation of fear and hatred can not be ignored, Eljuri is aware that Trump is not as powerful as he believes in a system of democratic checks and balances, he is not a dictator who can simply invent the laws he wants, and the people it still has a strong voice, and right now it is on, and it will not just tolerate what that or any president says. Not that Eljuri likes the situation, of course, but he is a kind of "optimist who is not happy". Giving joy and message to people, can at least channel the pessimism that is being lived and turn it into optimism and joy through peace and love. It is what she can do as an artist, but above all, a human being.

When singing, it seeks to reach the hearts of people, express their pain before what they see so that others identify and can release theirs, a sort of mutual catharsis through the compositions. That is why he wants to reach many places, make toures and videos because he feels it is a more direct way to reach people, that the vein in the eyes and the message is understood. In times of enormous polarization around the world like this, it is important to teach how to achieve change, recognize their rights and improve the world for all from within the system and not through violence.

He also knows that the movement he has created in New York alone can not change the world. That is why it is connecting people in all the places that it visits with similar interests to make the inertia of the movement that is born all over the world enormous, that more and more people will be empowered and we will achieve, as humanity, a change towards peace and unity beyond violence and polarization. With that, he hopes we all lose the fear of talking. For her, at all levels, that is the main thing, because that is the first step for things to change, the second, to see that you are not alone and join forces to achieve better changes, from the security of a neighborhood to controlling a petty government. The truth is that you do not have to hide under a rock to expect things to change, but you must always be in the fight.