Performing in New York City holds several meanings for Ricardo Arjona, but one in particular hits really close to home.
It has to do with what the Guatemalan Grammy/Latin Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and composer, whose “Viaje” tour touches down in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, March 8, sings about in 2005’s “Mojado” (which means “wetback” in Spanish), a single that illuminates the stigma and dangers that shadow the undocumented people who cross the Mexican border into the U.S. from their perspective.
“The first so-called mojada I had ever known was my mother, who went to work in a factory in New York to help her family members pay off their debt back home,” Arjona, 51, tells Viva of his mother, Nohemi Morales, who died at age 78 in December 2013.
“Without a doubt, those of us who make music are chroniclers, much like people who are journalists. I think it’s one of the most important songs I’ve ever written, because it’s a testimony of my personal life.
“To be in New York and perform at (the Garden) is a peak moment in the history of any tour,” adds Arjona, who is more than 70 shows into touring off of his 2014 album, “Viaje.”
Arjona, who has netted over 20 million album sales worldwide during his 30-year career, gained international recognition with the 1993 album “Animal Nocturno,” and gained a reputation for addressing a variety of social issues, including violence and racism, in his music.
He’s also helping to meet the education and music development needs of “approximately 300 children” in his native Guatemala through his nonprofit organization, Fundación ADENTRO: Afinando Sueños.
“Years ago, I made the decision to stop complaining and start doing things,” Arjona says.
“I’ve complained a lot about one of the principal criticisms of Latin America as a whole, which is the poor education My foundation attempts to convert these complaints into the possibility of fixing the problem.
“It’s too difficult for one person to fix Guatemala’s problems with education, and it’s not going to happen overnight. But we’re looking to open a second school, and we’re doing something about it, without a doubt.”
Ray Monell | New York Daily News Viva