To hear the audio podcast of MoJo‘s interview with Ulises Bella, click below:
This October, the US State Department sent Ozomatli, the Los Angeles-based, 9-piece Latin band, on a tour of South Africa and Madagascar as “cultural ambassadors.”
The two-time Grammy Award-winning band has opened for Carlos Santana, played on the Late Night With Conan O’Brien show, been featured on Austin City Limits, and performed at Coachella. The band hosts a music show on 98.7 FM in Los Angeles.
In 2007, the State Department sent Ozomatli to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, and Tunisia. A performance in Nepal drew a reported 12,000 people. On their recent tour of South Africa and Madagascar, they performed live shows, hosted music workshops for local youth, and visited AIDS clinics and orphanages.
Before their trip, Mother Jones spoke with Ozomatli band member Ulises Bella, who plays saxophone, the requinto jarocho, keyboard, and melodica, in addition to providing background vocals for the band. Bella has been a member since the band formed in 1995.