RAVENSWOOD — Chicagoans are stepping up to help the Luceros, the city’s “von Trapp” musical family, from being evicted.
As of Wednesday morning, 20 people had donated $4,750, but organizers hope to raise $30,000. The money will help the Luceros cover six months of unpaid back rent as well as future rent until they can begin earning regular income again, as the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a major blow to their work.
The Luceros — father Juan, mother Susy and seven children — make up Cielilto Lindo, a mariachi folk band that has performed everywhere from Alcala’s Western Wear in West Town to Nickelodeon’s stage in Los Angeles.
But in March, COVID-19 led to the cancellation of events and closing of theaters, cutting the family’s regular income by nearly half and imperiling their home.
The fundraiser organizer, Bob Farster, is a neighbor of the Luceros in Ravenswood. The family is very grateful to Farster and all the supporters who have donated thus far, Juan Lucero said.
“It almost doesn’t feel real,” he said. “Leaving Chicago is not an option. We’ve been here five years. Even with the pandemic, there’s nowhere else we want to be … . There’s nowhere else we can be ourselves.”
Cielito Lindo, which means “beautiful heaven” in Spanish, performs traditional Mexican music. The family’s seven children range in age from 7 to 18, with all living at home.
The family moved to Chicago from New Mexico five years ago. Susy Lucero grew up in Logan Square and Avondale, and the family felt they’d find more success as musicians in the city. They sold their house in New Mexico and moved all seven of their children to Lincoln Square. They eventually moved into their current home in Ravenswood.
Since moving to Chicago, the Luceros’ rise to fame has been rapid.
The family has performed at Bulls games, galas, street festivals and on television programs, including Nickelodeon’s “America’s Most Musical Family.” They are routinely booked to perform at weddings, quinceañeras, birthday parties and other community events. Downtown businesses often book the band, too.
“I feel definitely Chicago … all of us as individuals, we can be ourselves here,” Lucero said. “It’s really easy to find your niche here in Chicago and be supported, find resources to be successful.”
But during the pandemic, the Luceros have pivoted to virtual performances. On Wednesday morning, hours after the GoFundMe was created, the family drove to the United Center, where they taped two performances of the National Anthem for upcoming Bulls events.
Zoom-based serenades begin at $50. The family performed several outdoor socially-distanced concerts this summer. A Venmo “tip jar” was established under the name @Juan-Lucero-77.
While every dollar helps, this income pales in comparison to what the family typically earns in a year, Lucero said.
“We’re grateful that we have some of our business left and some income left,” he said. “But unfortunately, as musicians and especially … as musical families go, it’s not enough. We were basically barely making it beforehand.”
Going into 2020, the family had finally gotten to a place where they could begin saving for a home. But with the pandemic, that money started going straight to bills, Lucero said.
If the Luceros are evicted, nine people who are dedicated to helping Chicago will be without a home, Farster wrote on the online fundraiser.
“After generously spreading joy and lifting people up through their music for years, now, the family — which has been likened to the von Trapps — is left needing help,” Farster said. “We can’t stand by and let this happen to this remarkable family.
“Through our years of friendship, I can honestly say that these are the nicest people you will ever meet. The kids are so polite, so smart and so hardworking. The parents are kind, generous, talented and, right now, uncertain about what’s next.”
Learn more about the family’s virtual music services here. Those wishing to reach out to the Lucero family for booking opportunities should call or text 312-721-9115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.