Chiquis and Lupillo Rivera traveled five hours north of Los Angeles to a small town called Gilroy, California on Sept. 4.
There they serenaded a group of farm workers — most of whom are Latino — who haven’t stopped working since the COVID-19 outbreak and are expected to show up to work even during the recent L.A. heatwaves when the temperature can reach up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I’m grateful for the nurses and everyone who works in the medical field, on the front lines,” says Chiquis. “But it’s so easy to forget that people who are working the farms are also essential workers. This concert was a huge eye-opener for me.”
The first concert held over Labor Day weekend was the first of two dates she’ll be co-headlining the “Gira En El Campo” tour with her uncle Lupillo, who had already kicked off the tour back in August with the help of his brother Juan Rivera who is producing the tour.
“My tío Juan mentioned to me that he was planning this tour with my uncle and asked if I’d like to perform at some of the shows … I wasn’t able to do the other two previous dates but at least I can do two for now.”
To follow safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, all attendees had to get COVID-19 tested one day before, practice social-distancing at the event, wear face masks and use hand sanitizers. The next concert will be Sept. 18 with location to be announced soon.
A day after her performance, Billboard caught up with Chiquis to talk about the epic concert and what it was like to perform in front of these essential workers.
Billboard: What was it like to perform again in front of an audience?
Chiquis: I was excited and nervous. It was my first time [performing] in almost a year. When I got up there, it was like second nature. It reminded me that this is what I love to do and I started thinking as I was singing, I was nervous for no reason. This is a beautiful cause and I’m doing this with all my heart and to see them smile and see everyone have a good time it really put me at ease and honestly it was beautiful. I woke up the next day and I was like everything happened so fast, I wish I could go back to that day.
Paint us a picture of what your day was like in Gilroy, California?
Well we drove from L.A. and we saw different farms and fields along the way. My videographer talked to some of the field workers and they told us how little they get paid and that some workers are like 60 to 70 years old. I was already very grateful but after hearing all of that, I was even more grateful. It doesn’t matter how hot it is outside or what is going on in the world, they have to work and we all need to eat.
Once we got to the hotel room, I had this all in my mind and I was just at that point anxious to get on stage and meet everyone. I wanted them to know how grateful I am. The workers got up and started dancing with one of my songs “Completamente” because it’s the type of song that you listen to and makes you want to dance. It was a nice experience also because I hadn’t been onstage with my tío Lupe for a very long time. He opened the show with three songs then I came out and sang three songs and then we went back and forth. It was different to a normal concert because I like to give hugs to my fans and interact and not being able to do that was really difficult. I like to interact. Toward the end I decided to take pictures and everyone was wearing a mask.
How long was the concert?
An hour and a half. The workers worked all day and then after work, they were able to take them to the location where we had tables for them. It was an after-work event. At this one they had some micheladas so I think they had a good time.
How was this initiative born?
The thing is that I was on the same page with my uncles Lupe and Juan because I actually wanted to go to Bakersfield and take the campesinos (field workers) some music and burritos and had everything planned. My tío Juan mentioned to me that he was planning this tour with my uncle and asked if I’d like to perform at some of the shows. So that’s how it happened. I wasn’t able to do the other two previous dates but at least I can do two for now.
When you took pictures with some of the workers, were you able to have conversations with them? What was their reaction to the concert?
They were very thankful. They said they liked the concert and that they had fun. One lady told me that I almost made her cry because I sang a song I had dedicated to my mom. They were telling me that there isn’t anything for them out there to actually have some fun, any sort of entertainment. So, they were grateful and that made me so happy.
What’s your takeaway from this first concert and interaction with the field workers?
More than anything, it made me realize that this is the reason why God has given me the platform that I have. I thank my mom for always showing me to give back in some way and the crazy thing is that I was there to give them a good time but little did they know that they also fulfilled something that was missing for so long in my heart. I was at a point where I thought, am I ever going to get back on the stage? Am I ever going to get this feeling again? We all go into this panic mode and I’m there to give them a gift but they also gave me a gift and I’m just happy.
I can’t wait ’till the Sept. 18 for the next concert. I want these concerts to become a bigger thing and for more artists to join. It doesn’t just have to be the Rivera family but other artists can join and give back to the community.