In spring 2016, Bolivian student Luis Gamarra wrote and recorded the song “Yo Soy Inmigrante” to help change the tone of the national discourse surrounding immigration. Here, Gamarra shares his thoughts on the experience.
I am extremely lucky and blessed to be in this country as an immigrant. I arrived to the United States after winning a residency lottery offered by the U.S government. Only a few thousand families in the whole world get to have this opportunity. I decided to leave my family, my country and friends for the chance of making all the big ideas and goals in my head come true. Being 18 years old in a brand new country and having to work at 3 different jobs to pay for your bills is definitely not easy, but I knew a great opportunity would come if I kept working very hard.
I have been in the U.S. for 5 years now, and my life has changed completely. In all those amazing opportunities I have gotten through the years, I have never forgotten who I was before I came to the U.S. or where I came from. I am very proud to be an immigrant in the land where everything is possible because I know most of us help this country to be greater every day, and I feel very grateful to have the chance to improve our lives as immigrants and the lives of our families.
This year, immigrants have felt hurt due to comments of hate and ignorance in the media. I wanted to create a positive song that would make all immigrants feel proud of who they are, and at the same time create social change among people who not yet know their importance and sacrifice in this country. That’s how the original song, “Yo Soy Inmigrante” (I am an Immigrant), came to life!
I started collecting stories of immigrants by interviewing my friends at the restaurant where I work as a server and also through Facebook. Fellow Berklee student Nicolas Farias and myself sat in a room, started to read all the stories collected, and wrote the song “Yo Soy Inmigrante.” To record it, we gathered more than 50 musicians from Berklee and Boston Conservatory, all of us representing more than 26 nationalities around the world. The audio recording team we had was incredible and the musicians involved were excited to be part of a song that would be the voice of more than 40 immigrants in the U.S.
Along with the song, we filmed a music video with the help of Berklee’s External Affairs Office and the Berklee Institute of Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). This video will not only show all the musicians that were part of the recording, but also Boston Conservatory dancers and images of immigrants that we recreated based on the stories collected previously.
The audio was released a week ago having more than 30,000 plays in one week, and on Sunday, July 3, we released the video on Berklee’s YouTube channel (see below). I am very grateful with all the team of “Yo Soy Inmigrante” for making this possible. More than ever, passion and love had a very important role on making this song a reality.
Watch the video for “Yo Soy Inmigrante:”
Bolivian native Luis Gamarra is a singer, entrepreneur, and music business major. In addition to the Inmigrante project, he launched the nonprofit Sonidos Bolivianos in 2015 with the goal of giving opportunities and scholarships for Bolivian people to study at the best artistic schools around the world.