Lucie Arnaz, daughter of TV royalty Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, shows off her Latin Roots at the Miramar Cultural Center on November 19. The South Florida premiere combines her dad’s arrangements, her own music and intimate home movies through which the story of her family is told.
“It’s my story. It’s my roots, but you can’t tell the story of my roots without telling the story of my father and of course, my mother too,” said Arnaz.
Her mother and father, whose off-screen relationship fueled the success of their onscreen romance in the five-time Emmy award winning I Love Lucy, were the first interracial couple to appear on American television. It was also the first time American audiences were introduced to Latin American music.
“This is the first time America heard these strange, new, sexy jungle rhythms, but they liked that loveable character of Ricky Ricardo. He was affable and handsome and he loved Lucy,” said Arnaz.
She says she created Latin Roots, which features music in English and Spanish, as a “tip of the old straw hat” to her dad, one of her greatest inspirations.
“It’s a 90-minute show basically about my life and my music, but as a thank you to my father,” said Arnaz.
Her father passed away in 1986 from lung cancer. It wasn’t until shortly after his death, his daughter found cassettes with 300 arrangements from the 1930s and 40s, never heard by anyone before.
“I didn’t do anything with them for years. I just kept them clean and tidy and dry in my garage,” said Arnaz.
These cassettes inspired her to produce a nightclub act, followed by a CD she named Latin Roots, and then a song and dance production Babalu – A Tribute to Desi Arnaz.
“When I decided to put together an actual show I sort of married the Babalu show to my Latin Roots CD and I called it Latin Roots. I took on some of the material that was sung by other people in the Babalu show, as well as some of the music that I did, and reformed the rest of the songs, put in stuff from my own CD, my own contemporary stuff. I added video, home movies to tell the story,” said Arnaz.
Lucie describes Latin Roots as sexy and passionate, but also humorous, qualities she says mirror her dad’s personality.
“It’s a story for American audiences to start to understand where this music came from and understand a little more about me, my folks and my father, especially where he got his inspiration from,” said Arnaz.
The Miramar Cultural Center presents Latin Roots on November 19 at 8 PM. Tickets start at $50.