Viajeros Melodiosos bringing people together through music

Viajeros Melodiosos performs "Drunk With Emotion" at the 42nd Centerfest festival in downtown Durham. 17 Sept. 2016 (Staff photo by Hollie Shelton)


Throughout time, music has been connecting people all over the world. Local group Viajeros Melodiosos hopes to strengthen community with their original songs and covers.

Viajeros Melodiosos has an eccentric style and feel-good vibe. In English their band name means “melodious travelers.” The group took to the Herald-Sun Stage at Bull McCabes in downtown Durham Saturday,  Sept. 17. The group was one of the many bands to be featured at this year’s CenterFest festival.

Three members make up this fusion group: Alexandra Valladares, David Mills and Gary Grier.

Mills is a graduate of North Carolina Central University’s jazz studies program and he plays classical guitar style; the wear on his hands is a testament to the dedication to his instrument. His fingers are callused, the skin worn down, his nails coated with clear hardening nail polish so they won’t chip off.

The band performs a variety of multilingual songs: in English, French and Spanish. Although Valladares’s background is Honduran, she learned French while in school and saiid she wanted to integrate the language into her art.

While the band has a plethora of its own work, members say they also like to perform covers and add their own style to known songs. They performed songs such as “Let it Be” by The Beatles and “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes, encouraging the crowd to sing along and add to the energy of the show.

Mills explained, “I would say as far as music and what we try to convey, I’d say between me, Gary and Alexandra — we all come from our different paths and we get together and play music and we have fun. We enjoy playing with each other. I think there’s a lot of times where in music, if people could have that mindset, let’s get together and find something we have in common, let’s do it, and just create music. In a simplistic way, the world would be better off.”

Grier expanded on Mills’ thought, “Music overall is a universal language. It has the ability to transcend colors, boundaries, nationalities, anything. I think events like these give us an opportunity to reach a lot of people with a message of love, hope, a message of togetherness. What separates us from anybody? Nothing!”

Stephen Juhlin, a listener in the crowd, said he enjoyed the experience of seeing Viajeros Melodiosos perform. “She has a wonderful voice, and I really wasn’t expecting them to play a song that I know and enjoy. ‘What’s Up’ is a fun and energy-filled song, and I think that they conveyed the energy of the song really well. I’ve never been out and heard another band do a cover of that song, that’s for sure. I didn’t know what to expect when they went on the stage but they definitely gained a fan today.”

Viajeros Melodiosos strives to emit high energy, and the members have bonded over many ideals — not just musical ones. Although their paths crossed randomly and professionally, the three members ended up with a more fruitful endeavor than they had anticipated. The members said they mesh well not only musically, but also spiritually.

Valladares touches on the members’ communal contributions: “I’d say we have a lot of different topics. David plays in the church, I play in a senior center and at the hospital and a lot of people in those settings really appreciate something inspirational, something positive.  Gary’s also very active in his place of worship. We’re all somehow giving to our communities and at the same time feeding off each other like even and putting together all our energies. It’s really cool, it’s pretty eclectic.”

Through the power of music, the members are hoping to bring people all closer together, especially since recent events of racial and cultural inequality have left communities tense. The band members say they want their music to be therapeutic and to send a message of unity.

Grier ends it with this last thought: “It goes beyond the fact that we have the same blood and same body structures. It’s the fact that we have a universal connection, a spiritual connection to each other. That is what it is.”

The band is planning to release a CD next year. They have a Facebook page where their performances can be tracked.