MILWAUKEE — They are the next generation of artists, musicians and creators. Students with the Latino Arts Strings program are learning a variety of Latino music from Argentina to Mexico - each note bringing them closer to their culture.
"This exploration of our roots is exactly for that, so everyone knows who they are and has a strong voice about who they want to become, and knowing where they are coming from," said Dinoarah Marquez.
Marquez started the program back in 2002 as a pre-college music course and as a way for students to earn scholarships. She said the program was a way to reach children who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to learn music.
"One of the most important things we can do is to give young people a really strong foundation from which to fly off and explore the world, and the best foundation we can have is to understand who we are and where we come from," said Marquez.
Letzahaya Arias, a sophomore at Dominican High School, said the music has helped her learn more about her history.
"Going to a predominantly white school, it definitely helps me feel more connected to my roots," said Arias.
During a time when music programs are being cut across the country, Jackie Moreno said the group is like her second family and learning Tejano music has opened up conversations with her parents.
"No matter how you feeling, you can always come to music to bring your emotions to light and understand how you're feeling through music," said Moreno.
The program has provided the kids with different opportunities, including playing at the inauguration of Gov. Tony Evers, and more recently the students had the opportunity to learn from Grammy award award-winning band Max Baca and Los TexMexicanas.
"It’s such an honor to open for a Grammy award-winning group, so that’s really cool," said Arias.
The group said playing with the professional students was an honor. They hope the children continue to develop their musical skills and continue to learn about their culture.
"It’s very important and we are glad to be teaching a part of our music and culture and collaborating together," said Baca.
To learn more about the program, click here.