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Aterciopelados set to play Latin American Festival this weekend

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Colombian rocker Andrea Echeverri has a host of reasons to put on airs. Her band, Aterciopelados, has won two Latin Grammys, been honored by the United Nations for denouncing violence, and was named one of the top three global bands by Time Magazine. And yet, she'd like to be perceived by her millions of fans across the globe as a female musician who is, "simple, domestic, without all that glitter."

It's a description that not only applies to her, but also to her latest solo album, Andrea Echeverri Dos, a record in which she ditched the fancy studio and world renowned producers for her home's living room, her husband and children, and her own judgment.

"I had to teach myself how to use all the recording equipment, used my daughter's artwork for the album cover, and had my mom, husband, and daughter sing background vocals," she says. "It feels like an act of emancipation to have done everything on my own."

It's that same organic, home-grown sound Aterciopelados plans to bring to Charlotte's Latin American Festival on Sunday, Oct. 9. Echeverri and Hector Buitrago, Aterciopelados' other half, are known for their electronic infused, psychedelic mix of rock with Colombian rhythms and Echeverri assures us their fans will get to hear their favorite classics, but in a more subtle and intimate way.

"Last year, there were six of us on tour and we'd be all ready and excited to play when suddenly we couldn't start because something was wrong with a computer cable," she says. "It was very frustrating to be so dependent on technology." Now, they've pared it down to four musicians and won't even be bringing a drum set. Instead, they have Cata, a female percussionist who plays a Peruvian cajón.

As she describes the new set up, Echeverri can't hide her excitement about sharing the stage with another cool, beautiful, worthy woman who isn't a sex symbol. "We are not playing rock anymore — we're playing rocka," she jokes.

And that's the thing about Echeverri — her roles as a woman and a mother are incredibly intertwined with her musical career. "If I had to choose, I'd say that my children come first," she affirms, "but I'd be such a boring mom if I didn't have music!"

Her music would be awfully lacking too if it wasn't for her children Milagros and Jacinto. Andrea Echeverri, her first solo album, was a powerful and intimate ode to her first child and the soundtrack to pregnancy and early motherhood. "Of course my kids inspire me!" she says, "and not just musically. Have you ever seen a child learn to walk? They fall over and over and keep getting up, as an adult, sometimes you fall once, and you think, no way, I'm not trying again."

It's refreshing to see and hear such a celebrated artist speak and act so candidly about everyday things, but it hasn't always been an effortless journey for her. "I have felt enormous pressure from everyone to fit into a mold, into a stereotype, into a certain box," she assures us.

Lucky for us, Echeverrian tells us in "Yo," her new album's first single, that she has chosen to be like the only person she believes she has any business being. "I don't want to be anything that isn't I," she sings, "anything that isn't I."

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