Musical and Magical Angels
By Jesús Aguado
“Too many people ask us why we do not just write a check. It would be easier and less work. We would do it, but thanks to the Festival, now Casa de los Ángeles is receiving more donations, especially from the United States.” Carrie Cameron.
The Magic Town Music Festival is back and promises a two-day nonstop music performance. The goal is to contribute to the development of children who are cared for, educated, and nourished at Casa de los Ángeles, a nonprofit organization that just turned 15 years old.
Daily, 70 children from infancy to four years attend Casa de los Ángeles, located in colonia Santa Julia. There they learn to get along and share. Experienced teachers take care of them and teach them to paint, count, write, and even to speak.
The Magic Town Music Festival targets all those who want to use music to help keep these children growing, healthy, educated, and with a different vision of the world, while their mothers—mostly housekeepers, and residents of Ejido de Tirado—work in order to offer them a better future.
Before Casa de los Ángeles
For Carrie Cameron, one thing has led her to the other. In 1992 she founded Love Life, a nonprofit organization in Texas, with the help of singer Maylee Thomas. For more than a decade, Cameron helped other organizations in town until she found Casa de los Ángeles and was hooked by it.
For that reason, along with Maylee Thomas, Cameron made a plan to help the Casa founder, the children, and their mothers. Since Thomas is a performer, she thought that music could be the perfect vehicle to entertain people and attract them to learn about the daycare center. She also hoped to generate financial resources so the less privileged mothers could keep working and raising their children with a better present and future.
Carrie Cameron started working on the first music festival, which took place in April 2014. Since the beginning, the festival attracted bands of all ages and musical genres. It took place in small venues in the historic center. The second year the festival grew, and its venue was the gardens of the Institute Allende. This year, the event will be even bigger and will take place at the magnificent Hacienda Los Picachos on the road to Querétaro on Saturday, March 12, and Sunday, March 13, from 11am–11pm.
Cameron said that she does not want just a music festival. She wants it to be the best because “the better it is, the more donations we will attract to the daycare center.” The festival has an army of people working behind it. Even the musicians and performers are volunteers. “They do not get paid,” highlighted Cameron. We asked how she attracts all these people to San Miguel, and Cameron easily answered, “It is hard to resist San Miguel. We treat them well, and we make them feel as if they are on vacation, not like they are working. Besides, they love San Miguel and understand what we are doing.”
A history of miracles
The festival will be the best 15th anniversary gift for Casa de los Ángeles, which was founded by Donna Quathamer. She is a woman whothought after several visits to Mexico to help nonprofit organizations, “What can I do to help in Mexico?” In 1999 she visited San Miguel de Allende especially to conduct an investigation of what women needed. “We need a place where we can leave our children secure and well-fed while we work,” is what they answered.
“A daycare center, that is what they wanted.” She said, in addition, that it was the reason why Casa de los Ángeles is a success. “We did not want to impose something; we wanted to do something that they needed.”
The dream was big. The bad news was that there was no money to make it possible. In 1999 the founder visited a house in colonia San Antonio that cost US$175,000. The owner needed a deposit of just US$10,000, and the rest could be paid within one year. “But we did not have US$10,000,” commented the smiling Quathamer. “I went back to the US to start a capital campaign for raising the money and the very next day I received a text message from a friend that a member of a Lutheran church wanted to donate US$10,000. That was the first miracle.”
Casa de los Ángeles started operations in colonia San Antonio in March 2001 with 22 children. However, so many children were on the waiting list that the organization needed an even bigger space. With more donations and committed people, the group built and opened the current house in colonia Santa Julia. Today the daycare center has a capacity for 100 children, and they are working with 70 infants. The founder commented that most of the mothers, according to the records, are housekeepers, and the rest work cleaning the streets or at the La Esmeralda factory.
The service is free for the mothers. The majority are single parents. According to Quathamer, the mothers fill out several forms in the Casa office, and then members of the organization visit the women’s houses to see how they live and how they can receive more support. “We have detected that some of them sleep on the floor with their children,” remarked Quathamer, “and when there is somebody who wants to donate mattresses, for example, we channel them to these moms.”
One of the novelties for the festival this year is Rayland Baxter who, granted an interview to Atención. Although he had visited San Miguel for vacation last year, he said, “I am very excited about coming back. I went to Mexico last year, and I was visiting random places. I ended up in San Miguel, where I wanted to stay just a few days, and I stayed two weeks.” The singer and songwriter grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, surrounded by music, which he always loved. Regardless of that, he wanted to see other things and traveled the world without knowing that eventually he would be dragged to the stage as a rock star.
Baxter commented that for him the lyrics and the music emerge naturally because everything inspires him. He said that the most important thing “is the color that you put on the wall to make your own version. I sing and play the electric guitar, and I do it the best I can.”
Excited at being in San Miguel and supporting Casa de los Ángeles, he recommended to all those who want to hear his music before his visit listen to “Olivia,” “Ghost Again,” and “Yellow Eyes.”“That could be a good experience and start,” he said. His music is available at www.raylandbaxter.com
Maylee Thomas, the Texan diva, will perform for the third year in a row. Listening to her amazing voice is memorable, as is her “hairography.” Thomas and her band can go from gospel to rock and blues and even to country and pop from time to time. Her music is available on YouTube as well as at www.maylee.com.
The tickets for the festival can be purchased at Galería Buena Vida at Aldama 42 as well as on the website www.magictownmusic.org.750 pesos per person, for one day; 1,350 pesos for two days. This is the complete list of the performers: Red Young, Maylee Thomas Band, Etta Britt, Jim Scarborough, Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps, Silvie Rider Young, Eric Gales Band, Media Luna, Rabeats, Joey Love, Rayland Baxter, Timka, Oh Whitney, Pila Seca, and Enrique Fernández.