Periko y Jessi Leon return to Celebracion
Periko y Jessi Leon, the Latin Grammy-nominated artist who first connected with the National Hispanic Institute through their song “Somos Latinos,” returned to Celebración 2018 on Friday. They spoke with students in the morning about their triumphs and challenges as independent artists, and performed for them in the evening.
Periko y Jessi were part of the homecoming Celebración in 2017, in connection with DishLATINO’s sponsorship of NHI programs. “Somos Latinos” was at the centerpiece of DishLATINO’s Sigue Haciendolas campaign, encouraging Latinos across the United States to declare their heritages and celebrate their hometowns. (The Miami-based duo have their roots in South America, with Periko’s family hailing from Peru and Jessi’s family hailing from Argentina.)
The musical duo, already impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of NHI students, were particularly impressed this time around with the students’ questions.
“We really feel connected with everyone,” Jessi said in an interview that will be available in an upcoming NHI podcast. “They ask us questions —”
“They ask us amazing questions!” Periko interjected. “NHI kids, honestly, are the best. Like Jessi’s saying, they ask really good questions when you’re talking to them. Plus, they always try to enjoy the music. They dance, they’re always happy, they’re singing with us.”
“I asked about their music and why they make it, and they talked about how it makes people happy and exhibits feelings,” said Amanda Berroa, a Cele student from Teaneck High School in Teaneck, N.J. She noted that their status as an independent artist intrigues her, and she was impressed with their image as well as their music.
The independent artist angle also resonates with Juan Carlos Nuñez, a Cele student from the John F. Kennedy American School of Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico. “I make electronic music, and I understand the work ethic involved.” He took inspiration from their talk, and believes hearing their story will help him in his goal to get farther and reach more people with his own music.
Jessi — who got to celebrate her birthday with the students — was particularly reflective about one student’s question about a low point in their career and how they overcame it. She answered by talking about their disappointment in not winning the Latin Grammy award they were nominated for in 2014, but how that motivated them to push further.
“Not winning was our win,” she notes. “For us, it as made us so much stronger. It makes us wake up every morning and want to do more. We have that hunger, that thing you may not have if you haven’t been through tough times.”
The full conversation with Periko y Jessi will be available in November as an NHI Podcast.
Celebración 2018 is sponsored in part by State Farm.