PILSEN — Enrique Leon picks up his guitar and belts out at least six mariachi songs live on Facebook every night.
The musician’s mission: bring happiness and music into people’s homes during trying times.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in Chicago and the subsequent closing of restaurants and cancellation of events, Leon, the head of the Mariachi Mexico Vivo group, has turned to his love of music to lift people’s spirits, said Karen Leon, his wife and manager of the Pilsen-based mariachi group.
In late March, the 47-year-old lifelong musician started performing on Facebook at 7 p.m. nightly. Following requests from viewers, Enrique Leon added live performances at 11:30 a.m. Sundays, Karen Leon said.
Enrique Leon wants to create “good vibes” and keep people and the community connected through music, Karen Leon said.
“More than anything, he wants to make people happy,” she said in Spanish.
In the videos posted on Enrique Leon’s personal Facebook page, the world is a stage. Neighbors and passersby call out requests and cheer Leon as he performs a handful of songs, Karen Leon said.
The nightly serenades have spread by word of mouth. People have even made requests for private virtual concerts.
Recently, Leon did a virtual serenade for a family in Colombia, Karen Leon said.
Like many others financially impacted by the closing of restaurants and event spaces, the family has been hit hard during the pandemic.
The spring and summer months are traditionally the busiest for the band. Usually they are booked solid for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Mother’s Day, graduations, first communions and weddings.
But those events have all been canceled or postponed until 2021, Karen Leon said.
“With the COVID-19 outbreak, 100 percent of our income has disappeared,” she said. “It’s a huge loss for us.”
The family has made do with donations so far, but they’re brainstorming ways to make sure their mortgage, car payments and other bills are taken care of, Karen Leon said.
As they attempt to navigate the disruption to the family business, Karen Leon said her husband is committed to singing mariachi songs nightly.
“It’s impossible for him to stay quiet,” she said. “As a performer, he wants to make people happy with music.”
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