Songs by an Immigrant by Mexican Director, Composer, Arranger & Orchestrator Jaime Lozano will have its debut at Green Room 42 in NYC this November 24 following sold out runs at Joe’s Pub and Two River Theater. The show addresses the meaningful theme of the immigrant experience in the United States in songs and stories about finding a new home, learning a new language, dealing with discrimination, trying to fit in, pursuing the American dream, being in love, growing older, and missing his native land. Its about diversity, inclusion, and building bridges instead walls and features an all-Latino line up of Broadway stars. We interviewed Jaime about the show and its history.
CMT: Tell us about your show, Songs by an Immigrant.
Jaime Lozano: Songs by an Immigrant is a concert that includes songs from some of my musicals like Children of Salt, Present Perfect, The Yellow Brick Road, A Never-Ending Line; and also a few new songs from an upcoming album actually named “Songs by an Immigrant”. All the songs address the meaningful theme of the immigrant experience in the United States with stories about finding a new home, learning a new language, dealing with discrimination, trying to fit in, pursuing the American dream, being in love, growing older, and missing his native land. It is show about diversity, inclusion, building bridges instead walls. And I’m very lucky to have a great group of talented friends that I have called for this concert “my Familia”, and they are singing these stories; we are gonna have an all-Latino line up of Broadway and Off-Broadway artists, and even the band are all Latinos as well. I feel a great responsibility with my people and my community and these are my stories, our stories, the stories I want to tell. About myself, about who I am and where I am from, about the people around me and the people before me and the people by my side.
Gabriela García performs You Gotta Change Your Name from Songs by an Immigrant at Joe’s Pub
CMT: You have already performed sold out version of this show at Joe’s Pub and Two River Theater. What will be different this time?
JL: We have had an amazing response from the audience in those venues. It has been really surprising to know that there are people who want to listen to these stories. We are gonna have a few new members joining this “Familia” that they haven’t been part of the other concerts like Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer (Hadestown), Linedy Genao (On Your Feet!), Aline Mayagoitia (Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation), and also other artists I have collaborated before but never in my concerts as my “pana” Migguel Anggelo (LatinXoxo) and Amy Lynn (Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular). I’m excited to see what they are gonna bring to my songs. I always encourage the performers I collaborate with to make the songs theirs. What I write is just notes on a paper and it is till they sing those the it became real. I never want to hear to my own music being sung exactly in the same way. So I love exploring and always use what every performer can bring from their own experience to every story. Also performing are Javier Ignacio (Sideshow) that we have collaborated before and I love every single time, and my brother Mauricio Martínez and my wife Florencia Cuenca. So it is really a family night and as every family party, you can expect surprises. Oh, and also is my The Green Room 42 debut, that of course bring another element of excitement.
CMT: You have an exciting cast and band made up of of all LatinX performers. We see this kind of representation as very important. How do you feel the LatinX community is currently being represented in this industry.
JL: I’m so proud of my Latino community, we are getting stronger. But definitely I think that diversity should start with diverse stories. We have to fight our own battles. Sometimes we want representation in shows that aren’t our “battles”. We need to change things from the top, we need more opportunities for Latino writers, Latino stories, Latino producers, Latino directors, Latino making decisions. That’s why I want to create roles for Latinos. We need our people originating new roles. Let’s create our own instead of fight for things don’t belong to us.
CMT: You have made a career for yourself as a Director / Composer / Arranger / Orchestrator / Vocal Coach. Can you talk about how these things fit together in your career.
JL: When I’m writing a song I already hear the way is suppose to sound. I write all my piano parts as “orchestra reductions.” I add what it is suppose to be horn lines, or guitar arpeggios, or my bass lines are more thinking in the actual bass that in the piano. I always have a big picture and a detailed map of how I want my songs to sound, and all this always dictated by the story telling. I love orchestrating my own stuff, but also I usually have co-orchestrators because I believe two pair of ears are better than one. I love collaboration. I don’t orchestrate my own stuff so I don’t have to collaborate with other, I always bring people I trust as part of my process. I think the key in this industry is to find your perfect team. Orchestrating for other is not that different, I also have to think about the storytelling and definitely being a composer have helped me a lot to find a lot of answers as an orchestrator and viceversa.
CMT: What do you think you bring as a an immigrant writer that is unique?
JL: Every journey is different, even every immigrant journey is different, not easier or harder, just different. I use what I am to tell my stories. Can I write American stories? Can I compose American pop or contemporary musical theatre music? Yes, I can. But those are not my stories, it isn’t my sound. Those don’t belong to me. I have to use what I am. And what I am is what I do. I am a Mexican immigrant musical theatre composer living in New York City; actually in Union City, NJ (it isn’t as expensive as the city), I come from a working-class family, no one in my family is related with arts at all. I’m the first one in my family making a living of this. I actually started “very late” in my life learning music, I was 18 years old. I met musical theatre when I was 19. I’m a father of a 15 daughter who lives in Mexico, far away from me and of a 3 years old son born in New York City. The first time I came to NYC I was 27 years old. I didn’t speak any English at that time. I never dreamed about doing musical theatre or living here. Life is full of surprises, and one decision lead to other one and here I am. All that of course nurture my music, my stories. I consider that I have my own sound. It is not Latino. It is Jaime. It is me. It is the sum of growing up in Mexico and now tying to make a living in NYC. My music has salsa, cumbia, jazz, ranchera, pop, rock, bolero, etc. But in my very own way to see those styles. I strongly believe that the most important thing is being passionate about what you do and being committed to that. I’m committed to my stories.
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