Salsa under the Stars scholarship fundraiser

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Erik Gomez said, “We were dancing and serving at the same time.” Such was the mood at Manny Cepeda’s event Salsa under the Stars held as a scholarship fundraiser for students at Grossmont College, on their quad, on Sept. 25. Gomez was working the event for the San Diego Taco Company. 

Erik Gomez said, “We were dancing and serving at the same time.” Such was the mood at Manny Cepeda’s event Salsa under the Stars held as a scholarship fundraiser for students at Grossmont College, on their quad, on Sept. 25. Gomez was working the event for the San Diego Taco Company. 

Manny Cepeda, as in Professor Cepeda at Grossmont College, is an accomplished musician.  “We are on Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora,” said Cepeda. Quite an honor but not surprising for the Puerto Rican born musician who started part of his musical education at the Escuela Libre de Musica for talented kids and attended from 6th to 12th grade in Puerto Rico. He graduated from Illinois State University, Ellington University in New Orleans and La Verne University in Naples, Italy.

Cepeda is a percussionist, singer, composer and arranger who arranged Latin jazz for prominent musicians in Puerto Rico, San Diego, and New York. The Manny Cepeda Orchestra is a classic salsa band with an emphasis of Fania All Stars style.

Many may have attended Manny Cepeda’s Salsa under the Stars at the Headquarters at Seaport Village, Liberty Public Market, or enjoyed this Latin Grammy winner’s CDs or appearances at clubs or private engagements.

“We ran out of room,” said Cepeda about the business model of “Salsa under the Stars” and its earlier beginnings. The Grossmont College event was also his cd release celebration. His CDs are Padre Querido, Romance, Paloma Mia, and Roots/Raices.

“We have over 300 guests,” said Anthony C. Cutietta, with Grossmont College’s Music Department. Clubs like the Dreamers Movement Club, which sold out of their ceviche, and the Hola Club that sold Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulces had stations to sell their foods and promote their clubs. The Dreamers Movement Club seeks to help students affected with hardships due to their AB540/undocumented status.

Derek Canon, Fred Beneditti, Zori Tinker, the Grossmont Master Chorale, and more joined the Manny Cepeda Orchestra. The more to the event was having a salsa instructor teach the salsa to the attendees from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. before the concert started at 7:30 p.m.

Cutietta pointed out “We will fund about 30 scholarships.”  College staff, students, and the professional musicians all pulled together to provide the music.  The newly anointed salsa dancers all provided the movement under the stars that showcased why Cepeda’s “Salsa under the Stars” creation is so popular.

Cepeda’s emcee, Tommy Rosas, also highlighted that they are doing a fundraiser for victims of Puerto Rico’s hurricanes on Oct. 22.  Visit www.mannycepeda.com for details.

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