Colombian-Born Musical Artist Leo Aether Uses Music To Transcend Cultural And Geo-Political Lines
Bogota, the Colombian city nestled in the Andes, is a special place where music permeates the air. It was here that Leo Aether’s love for music began, carrying on the legacy of his late grandfather whom Leo unfortunately did not have the opportunity to see perform before his passing.
What made his experience unique was that he didn’t just learn music; he lived it. Traveling with his family to various gigs, he picked up the ins and outs of music production. It wasn’t just a hobby; it was his way of life, his heritage.
But as the 1990s unfolded, Colombia wasn’t all rhythm and celebration. It was a tumultuous time, marked by violence and uncertainty. This chaos forced many families, including Leo’s to make a heart-wrenching decision: to leave their homeland in search of safety and opportunity. So, in 1999, Leo and his parents set their sights on a new horizon- Houston, Texas.
This move was nothing short of a leap into the unknown for Leo. Houston was a world apart from Bogota, where the language, culture, and customs were vastly different. The transition was far from smooth. As a young man moving to the U.S., Leo struggled with poverty, homesickness, and racism. Yet, he was determined to find his place in this new world, and these challenges only fueled his determination.
One of the most memorable episodes in Leo’s journey happened onstage, during his first performance for an American audience. As he sang in his native Spanish, he was met with jeers and boos. The audience expected something else, something familiar. But Leo didn’t let this discourage him. He recognized that the true power of music goes beyond language. It speaks to the soul, no matter the words it uses.
“I was in a very dark place at that time,” says Aether, now 40. “Music became the light of my life. It gave me hope. It saved me.”
The aspiring musician’s resilience shone through. He worked odd jobs to support himself and his family while nurturing his artistic talents. Simultaneously learning English, and how to play the guitar and write songs, Leo now had an outlet for expressing the struggles he was going through as a political asylum seeker, living in a strange new country.
Leo Aether’s music isn’t just about melodies and lyrics; it’s a beacon of hope and illumination. It’s a reminder that, no matter where you come from or where life takes you, there’s a universal connection that binds us. His songs resonate with anyone who’s ever faced adversity and emerged stronger.
As a resident of Orlando Florida since 2010, Aether has brought his message of hope to stages across the American Southeast. But there’s more to Leo’s mission. He also wants his audience to understand that Colombia isn’t just known for its stunning landscapes and vibrant parties; it’s also a cradle of rich poetry and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Leo aims to shed light on these cultural aspects and share them with the world.
Leo Aether’s music is a testament to the beauty of diversity, showing how different languages and backgrounds can come together to create something extraordinary. When asked about the importance of introducing the Colombian culture to his listeners, Leo pauses and then responds,
“I don’t want to label myself as just a musician from Colombia, or sell myself as someone who only plays one kind of music. I’m trying to express who I am as a person, and this inevitably shows aspects of my culture in the process.”
As you listen to his music, remember the story of a young boy who faced adversity with courage, sang in the face of jeers, and carried the soul of Colombia with him. In Leo’s music, you won’t just find melodies; you’ll embark on an extraordinary journey to the heart of Bogota and beyond. It’s a story of resilience, passion, and the universal language of music.
This story is proudly brought to you in partnership with FusionFest. Together, FusionFest and Pedacitos believe in the power of storytelling as a way to celebrate and amplify the diverse voices within our communities. FusionFest is also the name of the incredible two-day multicultural event held in the heart of Downtown Orlando every Thanksgiving weekend.
This FREE event showcases some of the many ways culture can be displayed and shared, including through music, art, food, fashion, and more! Their mission extends beyond this once-a-year event with opportunities for the community to engage and learn through curated cultural events throughout the year.
FusionFest Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission to celebrate the people and the many different cultures that make Central Florida awesome by showcasing talents, sharing stories, driving innovation and building community based on respect and understanding. FusionFest is a project of the Orange County Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.