Inspired to make a difference in whatever way they could, the four Soto brothers and their father (Cessar, Isaac, Ruben, Edwin and Shannon… or, The Cires) began to organize an online concert in December, with their help of their music- and video-producing friend, Christian Francisco.
“We wanted to do something that was influenced by our roots—The Beatles, Mexican romanticas, and being hella Hayward—and we looked at the Live 8 concert, which was a music event in the ’80s that was used to raise awareness about AIDS. We thought it could be cool to do our own miniature version of that for us to raise money,” Isaac explains.
After a month of promotional giveaways, coordinating technical equipment, rehearsing songs and securing a venue (Isaac’s work office, which wasn’t being used due to COVID, became a one-night studio), the brothers put on a livestreamed show where viewers could contribute money for the relief funds, and could also request songs and give shoutouts live in return for their support.
Mostly performing in Spanish and Spanglish, the group played a nearly two-hour set dubbed the Central American Relief Concert, which aired on YouTube and remains available for viewing.
To their own surprise, The Cires say they garnered over $3,000—more than they’d anticipated. When asked what they planned to do with the money and how it would be used to help Central Americans, Isaac shared that he’s been in close contact with his friend, Hellena Cedeño. With the help of her family member Linda Zelaya, a lawyer in Honduras, and they have coordinated where to allocate resources.
“We established a close relationship with her, and we trusted that she wouldn’t take the money and just buy a new car, and that she would actually organize and distribute the supplies,” Isaac says with a laugh. “Thankfully she has enough money to endure what happened, so we knew she had good intentions and just wanted to help others. We had an idea to donate to the Red Cross or another big org, but you never know where that money goes directly, so that’s why we chose to do it on a more personal level.”
To ensure that the money is being spent properly, the brothers have maintained communication with the Cedeño family, and have posted pictures and videos on their Instagram to let fans and supporters know how the money is actually benefiting families in need. In one photo, Hellena’s family members are assembling relief materials and supplies—enough to fill up their living room—as preparation for aiding their community. Their efforts were even covered on a Honduran news channel.
This successful international community effort is a reminder that no matter how far apart we feel in these times, we shouldn’t forget that creativity and compassion can work together, and that we’re in some ways more connected than ever before—regardless of our backgrounds, borders or status.