Plans in place to erect a statue of Mariachi musician Teresa Cuevas
Teresa Cuevas felt it was her destiny to keep mariachi music alive for future generations to enjoy, says her granddaughter, Michelle Cuevas Stubblefield.
Tuesday will mark the 101st anniversary of the birth of Cuevas, the driving force behind Mariachi Estrella de Topeka, one of the first all-female mariachi bands in the United States.
His family is working with the Downtown Topeka Foundation to honor his legacy by having a life-size bronze statue of Cuevas, died at 93 in 2013, located near Evergy Plaza in downtown Topeka.
Cuevas is set to become the first woman to receive a statue along S. Kansas Avenue, Cuevas Stubblefield said.
Donors have contributed about $ 15,000 of the estimated $ 80,000 needed to fund the project, said Cuevas Stubblefield.
“We are looking for the support of the community,” she said. “Any help, big or small, is greatly appreciated.”
Donations can be made through PayPal on the Facebook page of Teresa Cuevas statue project or mailed to the Downtown Topeka Foundation, 701 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS 66603.
Cuevas’ family have received proposals from sculptors interested in creating the statue and are interviewing applicants this week, Cuevas Stubblefield said.
Family members hope the statue will be consecrated during Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, although that will depend on the final contract with the sculptor, she said.
What statues are already downtown?
Downtown is already the site of statues honoring Washburn University’s namesake Ichabod Washburn and prominent Topekans Charles Curtis, Arthur Capper, Cyrus K. Holliday, Harry Colmery, McKinley Burnett, and Samuel Crumbine.
Additionally, the Kansas Statehouse Estate features sculptures of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and a pioneer protecting her children.
Another sculpture, “Mariachi Divina”, can be found outside the Topeka Performing Arts Center at 214 SE 8th. It pays tribute to the four members of Mariachi Estrella who died in the collapse of two skywalks in July 1981 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri.
What is Mariachi Estrella?
Cuevas, who was born in Topeka to Mexican immigrants, was the oldest member and director of the seven women who formed Mariachi Estrella in the late 1970s in Topeka. Estrella means “star” in Spanish.
The group quickly gained regional popularity while shattering gender stereotypes in the male dominated genre of mariachi music.
But tragedy struck on the evening of July 17, 1981, as six of its members made their way to a venue where they were scheduled to perform at a corporate event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri.
What happened in the Hyatt tragedy?
The hotel had suspended concrete walkways known as “skywalks” on its second, third and fourth floors.
Members of Mariachi Estrella had just climbed onto the second floor walkway, 15 feet above the ground, when the fourth floor walkway, 45 feet above the ground, collapsed after its connections failed. steel to the wall.
The fourth floor walkway fell to the top of the second floor walkway, which was just below. The two then collapsed into the lobby. The third floor walkway, which was not aligned with the others, did not collapse.
The crash killed 114 people, including members of Mariachi Estrella Connie “Chae” Alcala, 32; Dolores Carmona, 35; Linda Rokey Scurlock, 36; and Dolores Galvan, 26.
About 200 other people were injured but survived. These included members of Mariachi Estrella, Cuevas, who suffered crushed vertebrae, concussion and severe bruising, and Rachel Galvan, who suffered bruises and a broken ankle. Rachel Galvan later married and took the surname Sangalang.
The other member of Mariachi Estrella, Isabel “Bolie” Gonzales, had stayed home that evening to care for two young children.
Cuevas kept the music alive
Cuevas recovered from her injuries and returned to playing. Over the decades that followed, she devoted a great deal of time to mentoring young musicians.
These included his granddaughters, sisters Maria and Tess Cuevas, who play in a band they named “Maria the Mexican” in tribute to Teresa Cuevas, whose full name was Maria Teresa Alonzo Cuevas.
Teresa Cuevas, Gonzales and Sangalang were among those in attendance when a monument called “Mariachi Divina” was unveiled in July 2006, five days before the 25th anniversary of the Hyatt tragedy, in front of the Topeka Performing Arts Center at 214 SE 8th.
The monument features images of the four members of Mariachi Estrella who died at the Hyatt, as well as a statue of a woman seeking the stars.