Ángela Aguilar is making a jump to the big screen for the first time with her new album Bolero. The Mexican-American star shot the documentary in Cuba, where she returned to the genre’s roots and met with Buena Vista Social Club members. In an interview with Remezcla, Aguilar opened up about honoring traditions versus chasing trends, her emotional encounter with Omara Portuondo, and carrying on her family’s legacy.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to continue the legacy of these traditions and old songs for the newer generations,” she says about making a bolero album. “I want them to know what it was like to listen to those songs.”
Instead of getting into the corridos tumbados or tumbette trends, Aguilar has honored the classic música mexicana that her family is known for. She is the daughter of Pepe Aguilar and the granddaughter of Mexican icons Flor Silvestre and Antonio Aguilar. “I really like to follow my heart and my traditions and also what my grandparents have done,” she says. “There’s an audience for everything.”
In the Bolero LP, she pays tribute to the Cuban-rooted genre beloved by Mexico. In the documentary, she sings classics like “Obsesión,” which her grandparents often performed together, and “Piensa En Mí” in scenic locations throughout Cuba. She also met with Omara Portuondo of Buena Vista Social Club, who Aguilar mentions was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. During that emotional scene, Aguilar gives Portuondo her flowers — literally and figuratively — as the Cuban legend sings “Veinte Años” to her.
“She deserves [her flowers]!” Aguilar says. “Something that was very sad but very beautiful was afterwards, [Omara] stood up at the end of the film, and we all clapped for her. Her son later told us, ‘Thank you for giving my mother her last applause.’”
Aguilar and her brother Leonardo scored a big hit with Becky G last year when they featured on her song “Por El Contrario.” About working with Becky G, she gushes, “Becky is a woman that I admire so much. Seeing Mexican-American culture at those levels is so amazing.” Like Becky G, Aguilar also has a strong gay fan base as a woman in música mexicana that she embraces.
People should be comfortable in their identities and comfortable also representing themselves however they want. Of course, I like to honor my traditions, but I follow the good ones, not the bad ones. I’m so happy to have so much love surrounding me.
“I absolutely love it!” she says. “I’m a fan of love, and I think people should love whoever they want to and whoever they choose to. I feel like people should be comfortable in their identities and comfortable also representing themselves however they want. Of course, I like to honor my traditions, but I follow the good ones, not the bad ones. I’m so happy to have so much love surrounding me.”
Aguilar’s Bolero documentary will play in theaters in select cities across Mexico on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The following day, the short film will be released on her YouTube channel. She is finishing up her next album, including songs she has written herself. Aguilar will also perform in arenas across the U.S. on the Jaripeo Hasta Los Huesos Tour with her family. The tour kicks off on Mar. 29 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.
Ángela Aguilar’s Bolero LP comes out on Feb. 2.