MUSIC: Viva la Revolucion! La Lupe Comes to Life on Screen Again

MORE THAN ‘JUST ANOTHER BLACK GIRL FROM SANTIAGO (CUBA)’

We can thank actress Lauren Velez’ diligent efforts to see a dream project fully realized when the indie biopic, They Call Me La Lupe, is released. Until then, find out what it meant to be the larger-than-life “Queen of Latin Soul” in a PBS program which aired in 2007. Now on YouTube, the enthralling documentary by Ela Troyano captures defining moments for the Cuban songstress who rose out of poverty to find fame, fortune and frustration when her career hit rock bottom and health declined.

Guadalupe Victoria Yolí Raymond (also fondly known as “La Yiyiyi”) was light years ahead of contemporaries of the time in the 1960s and 70s. Her influence remains untouchable, so while watching her story unfold I found myself laughing, crying and jumping to my feet throughout a spectrum of personal anecdotes, intimate accounts by family and friends, as well as rare archival footage. More than a mesmerizing voice and controversial performer, La Lupe eventually turned her back on secular music and life as a Santera to redefine herself spiritually as an ordained Pentecostal minister and preacher in the South Bronx. Though she died in 1992, the street where she lived in a modest apartment now bears her name (E. 140th and St. Ann’s).

Velez recently mentioned her film project during the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York, and said she always felt connected to La Lupe. “I think sometimes people are threatened by something that shines so bright,” Velez wrote on her Kickstarter fundraising page. “… Or something so powerful they just want to destroy it; make it go away because by comparing themselves to her, they knew they weren’t living as fully as she did.”

Recommended:

Independent Lens (La Lupe): http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/lalupe/index.html

PBS documentary (complete): http://youtu.be/-0O8VSfIsFo

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