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Making Movies And Rubén Blades Trace Stories Of Immigrant Injustice With 'Ameri'kana'

Making Movies (pictured) enlist Latin legend Ruben Blades for its upcoming album<em> Ameri'kana.</em>
Luis Cantillo
Courtesy of the artists
Making Movies (pictured) enlist Latin legend Ruben Blades for its upcoming album Ameri'kana.

You might say Making Movies is a band of brothers. The Kansas City-based group is made up of two Panamanian-Americans — guitarist Enrique Chi and his brother, bassist Diego Chi — and two Mexican-Americans; drummer Andres Chaurand and his brother Juan-Carlos, who plays percussion and keyboards.

In January, Making Movies released its first single "No Te Calles," from its upcoming album, Ameri'kana .The single featured a special guest vocalist Panamanian singer, actor and activist Rubén Blades, and it was no ordinary music release. The band also launched a website. Notecalles.world is a collaborative site encouraging people to sing along with Blades and Making Movies, adding voices to create one long protest video.

"I don't believe that as artists we should dictate what social change needs to be. But I think that it is our responsibility to ask those questions and to ask that of our audience," Enrique Chi says. "I think that what's really powerful about the song is that the song really relies on a on a faith that if you just ask people to raise their voice you're going to find more people that believe in justice versus those that believe in injustice."

By having fans contribute to the video, Blades says it presents a united front of Latinos urging change.

"There's this fantasy that somehow these things can't change," Blades says. I think they can and in some instances they must."

Other songs on the upcoming album like " Como Perdonar" ("How To Forgive") and "Delilah" tells of immigrant stories and interrogates laws in America that tear immigrant families apart. Chi himself has lived this story.

"Between the time that my brother and I was born, a law changed in the United States and my father, who has American citizenship, he was able to give my brother American citizenship," Chi explains. "But when I was born, he was not able to give it to me just because of the law. So my brother and I we could share a bathtub but we weren't citizens of the same country."

Chi and Blades say the purpose of naming the album Ameri'kanais to look back on revisionist history and honoring Latinos in this country who have always contributed to America's culture.

"You don't really go to an Americana of festival and find these stories that we've been telling, this Latin influence in American music. That part is omitted to this day. And so, I I felt like we were trying to musically remind people of the history that they may already know and have forgotten or maybe they were just never shown," Chi says.

Ameri'kanais due out May 24.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
Ned Wharton is a senior producer and music director for Weekend Edition.