Music News
9:56 am
Wed January 23, 2013

A High School Salsa Band In The Inaugural Parade? 'Of Course!'

Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 11:13 am

In the Inaugural Parade following the president's swearing-in on Monday, regimental and high school marching bands will appear alongside groups showcasing the nation's diversity. These include a float representing South Carolina and Georgia's Gullah-Geechee culture, plus Native American groups and a mariachi band from Texas. Bringing the salsa is Seguro Que Si, a high school band from Kissimmee, Fla.

Seguro Que Si is a nine-member ensemble from central Florida's Osceola County School for the Arts. Teachers and administrators say the salsa band, and the notion to play in the inaugural parade, didn't come from them. It originated with the students — in particular, a sophomore named Maxwell Frost.

Onstage, Frost is animated and irrepressible as a timbale player and bandleader. He says that Seguro Que Si ("Of course" in English) started as a jazz jam that took on a Latin flavor. As he added musicians, a salsa band was born.

Along with music, Frost says he also loves President Obama. He worked as a volunteer in the president's re-election campaign and was determined to attend the inauguration.

"I went online. There was a link for requests to participate," Frost says. "And I said, 'You know what, maybe my band could represent the Latino community, since the demographics this year with Latinos and the voting — a lot of the reason he got elected was because of the Latinos. So I said it would be cool if they could be represented in the parade."

On his own, the 15-year-old applied and got letters of recommendation from the school district and from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). When the inaugural committee called back, Frost says, he was in class.

"My pocket started vibrating and it was my phone. I kind of snuck it out and looked at the number: 202, Washington area code. So I said, 'Sir, I have to use the restroom,'" Frost says, laughing.

He checked his voicemail and learned that Seguro Que Si was in the Inaugural Parade. One of the first people he told was bass player Daniel Chico.

"I couldn't keep my mouth shut," Chico says. "He told me not to tell anyone. But I told the whole band anyway. I was so excited."

These warm-weather Florida teenagers aren't looking forward to playing outside in Washington temperatures, now forecast to be in the 30s or 40s. But, Frost says, who knows? There could be a big L.A. music producer at the parade, ready to give a hot young salsa band from Kissimmee its big break.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're listening to the band Seguro que Si. No, you haven't seen their latest single on Spotify. Seguro Que Si is a high school band from Kissimmee, Florida, a really good high school band. And they're getting ready for what could likely be the performance of a lifetime, playing in the Inaugural Day Parade.

NPR's Greg Allen has their story.

(SOUNDBITE OF AN ORCHESTRAL WARM-UP)

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It's a nine-member band from central Florida's Osceola County School for the Arts. But teachers and administrators say the salsa band, and the notion to play in the inaugural parade, didn't come from them.

DONNA HART: This was totally the students' idea. It was Max Frost's idea.

ALLEN: Donna Hart is a counselor at the school.

HART: He's 15 and he's a sophomore here at School for the Arts. And he came to me after he did it and said, hey, I've applied and we might get this.

MAXWELL FROST: One, two, three, four. Seguro Que Si...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ALLEN: Onstage, Maxwell Frost, as he likes to be called, is animated and irrepressible as a timbale player and band leader. The band and the song are both "Seguro Que Si," "Of Course" in English. Frost says it all started as a jazz jam that took on a Latin flavor. As he added musicians, a salsa band was born.

FROST: So here we have timbales which is, you know, very traditional; congas, traditional; and bongos, which is also traditional.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ALLEN: Along with music, Frost says he also loves President Obama. He worked as a volunteer in the president's re-election campaign and was determined to attend the inauguration.

FROST: I went online. There was a link for, you know, requests to participate. And I said you know what? Maybe my band could represent the Latino community since, you know, the demographics this year with Latinos and the voting, a lot of the reason he got elected was because of the Latinos. So I said it would be cool if they can be represented in the parade.

ALLEN: On his own, the 15 -year-old applied and got letters of recommendation from the school district and from Florida Senator Bill Nelson. When the Inaugural Committee called back, Frost says he was in class.

FROST: And my pocket started vibrating and it was my phone. And I was, you know, I kind of snuck it out. I looked at the number, 202, Washington area code. So I said, Sir, I got to use the rest room.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: He checked his voicemail and learned that Seguro Que Si was in the Inaugural Parade. One of the first people he told was bass player Daniel Chico.

DANIEL CHICO: Once he told me, I couldn't keep my mouth shut. He told me not to tell anyone. But I told the whole band anyway. I was so excited.

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG)

ANNETTE RODRIQUEZ: (Singing in foreign language)

ALLEN: In the school auditorium last week, Frost, Chico, singer Annette Rodriquez, trumpeter Sean Fernandez and the other band members gathered to rehearse?

Kissimmee has become a center for Puerto Rican culture in recent years. Seguro Que Si represents that important influence. But Maxwell Frost says not all salsa comes from Puerto Rico.

FROST: But then you have the salsa that, you know, Cuban salsa which is more like shouting and having a good time...

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOUTING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

ALLEN: ...things like that. That's kind of Cuban salsa. You know what I mean?

Which kind do you play, Sean, when you play with the band, Puerto Rican or Cuban salsa?

SEAN FERNANDEZ: Puerto Rican for the win.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Puerto Rican.

ALLEN: These warm-weather Florida teenagers aren't looking forward to playing outside in Washington temperatures, now forecast to be in the '30s or '40s. But Frost says who knows? There could be a big L.A. music producer at the parade, ready to give a hot young salsa band from Kissimmee, Florida their big break.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ALLEN: And this is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.