Liuba sings Gabilondo Soler / Liuba María Hevia
“These are strange times” may be, perhaps, the most recurring thought of each one of us so far this year —along with the fear of getting sick, of dying, of scarcity, of uncertainty. It is strange to walk down the street with a piece of cloth that hides our joys and sorrows. It is rare, very rare, not to hug, not visit, not have a cup of coffee with friends or share sunsets. We had gotten used to the apparent normality too quickly. Alone, with family, with friends, with pets or with our imagination. But these are rare days, and all the organization of the planned time remained like a drawing in the air.
And we have called this fear and the other a pandemic and quarantine, at this social distance and by staying home until it's all over. The disease is real, as real as the great wars we know. We have transported it at an incredible speed, we have globalized it as we do with everything. Silence and waiting are worldwide, like a collective plunge. It is normal to be afraid and want to save ourselves and save ourselves from fear and danger. We, the conscious ones, are in the middle of all this, not knowing what the world will be like, into which —someday, hopefully soon—, we will leave through the front door.
Why write about a children's music album in the middle of a pandemic? It is very difficult to experience anything today that is not traversed by these rare days. During this break I moved to a new house, inherited a huge box of old photos, turned 27 and listened to Liuba María Hevia's tribute album to Gabilondo Soler. This is all part of my experience. Everything is mixed, as in music.
And this is where it all meshes. We need to feel safe, and when everything outside is burning and scary, childhood is the safest place there is: our homes, our memories. When I hear Liuba's voice singing nursery rhymes, I feel again like the little girl who cried with Alejo the crab or Anne the Bell. It's a quality of Liuba's voice and the ears of those born in the '90s. Mr. Rainbow (1995), magical journey (2000) and Attention, I bring a gift (2005) formed a part of our vision of the world, they are at the base of our sentimental education.
Surprise, then, to hear Liuba sings Gabilondo Soler how many of these songs are mixed in the last track of the album, Cri Cri Suite: a medley of The Shoe Festival, the ugly doll and The March of Letters. It is also surprising how I know the history of Chinese by heart Chong Ki Fu that he no longer wanted to live in a vase. This is because Liuba had already included songs from the Cri-Cri (as Gabilondo Soler is known in Mexico) on other albums, on those we had as children. And the finding is not just for our childhood. say why, the eighth song of this phonogram, is known by our fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, thanks to Consuelito Vidal's interpretation of it.
I discover then that Francisco Gabilondo Soler is not a random name, but something like the “Mexican Teresito” as a friend who also writes children's songs told me. As a child I wanted to be an astronaut, an expert in stars and galaxies. But his songs have accompanied generations of Mexican men and women since he was aired in the voice of Cri-Cri, the singing cricket for a radio program in 1932. Together with María Elena Walsh and Teresita Fernández, he forms the triad of essential singers for growing up. And I would add the compositions of Ada Elba Pérez.
On this album —produced by Bis Music—, Liuba performs ten songs by Gabilondo Soler, generally short and very precise songs, which in 20 minutes describe new, common and imagined worlds. Fables and stories where sleepy little pigs coexist, the clock hours or the Chinese Chong Ki Fu in walnut boats, vases and carousels. It is accompanied by wind instruments, piano and other more specific resources to mark a genre or a story as in the song. Chong Ki Fu where he recreates elements of traditional Chinese music or in the trickle, a theme that makes use of the tres, a common instrument for the Veracruz coast and Cuba. In some songs Liuba is accompanied by the voice of a girl who sings with her. This is a record of children's music: clean, clear and tender.
The homage in Liuba María Hevia's discography is not new. This album comes to accompany two previous ones: Liuba sings Teresita Fernández (Bis Music) and Liuba sings Maria Elena Walsh (Abdullah). They will be the head records of the sons or daughters that I will have, because they are already mine. I've always been clear about how important children's music is. But many times we forget how necessary it is for those of us who have already moved a little away from that stage of our lives. Today, when I start a new house and put projects and wishes on every corner, I need the hope of this music. The big box of photos and family memories that I inherit has all the chords of these songs from my memory. And on these rare days, on birthdays, The Nut Boat, The watch, the trickle, and school walk, among other songs on this album, they have been my place of peace, free from fear and loneliness. Apparently Liuba knows—as I do—that nursery rhymes are a safe place.