(WIVT/WBGH) – Throughout Hispanic Heritage month, NewsChannel 34 is profiling the contributions of Latinx people across the country and here at home.
Ayana Del Valle grew up here in Greater Binghamton, learning through the traditions established by her family.
“That’s kind of the example that I was raised in, was very community driven, very music oriented, and then there were all these wonderful cultural elements that I didn’t see growing up around me, growing up in Endwell, but that my family brought to the area and we would share with others.”
Del Valle runs a vocal school in her Endwell home. Her parents were musicians, dancers, singers, and first generation Americans after both of her grandparents immigrated from Puerto Rico. Del Valle’s parents were integral parts of establishing a vibrant Latin community in the Southern Tier, and specifically, Binghamton University.
“It started on campus with them, you know, bringing Bomba e Plena to campus. They founded this group called Quimbamba, it exists today, on campus still.”
They also founded the Latin American Student Union and both have scholarships in their name under the Latin Achievement Award. Del Valle attributes her parents’ ingenuity to her culture’s passion of music.
“As a little girl, I was growing up on this campus and part of this whole community that was really tight, and there was always music involved. Music was that unifying source where people could also just let loose a little bit and you didn’t have to be a musician to do it, you just did it because it was a form of expression and it was fun.”
Del Valle has taken what experiences she absorbed as a child and has applied it to her career. She performs locally with a number of bands including funk act Caviar and Grits, Latin band Salsa Libre and jazz trio Anything Goes.
She taught 8th grade Spanish at West Middle School, and now focuses her efforts into her school of voice and involvement around the community.
Chelsea Bolles says working with Del Valle, you receive both a practical and spiritual approach of understanding your voice.
Student at Dell Valle School of Voice, Chelsea Bolles says, “Like sure, we study technical things but, it’s also about believing in yourself and feeling confident in yourself and knowing that you deserve to share what you have with the world just as much as anybody else.”
Del Valle now sits on the executive board for the Binghamton Philharmonic and is the chair for the organization’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
She’s also performed on stage with the philharmonic on a couple of occasions.