More than two months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, 50 percent of the island is still in the dark. But these New York City-based independent musicians are fighting back. Raquel Berríos and Luis Del Valle, members of the indie band Buscabulla, and Latina musician Ani Cordero have started the Puerto Rico Independent Musicians Fund (PRIMA), an emergency grant to help struggling artists in Puerto Rico after the category 4 storm ravaged the U.S territory in September.
The independent music scene in Puerto Rico has experienced a revival in the last few years, but it came to a halt after Maria left locals with no power, water, or cell phone service. The rippling effects of more pressing concerns resulted in canceled gigs, creating hardship for musicians.
“Artists are already leaving the island because the situation is tremendously difficult,” PRIMA posted on Instagram. “Musicians have lost equipment, studios, gigs, homes, and many have lost all income. The independent musician’s way of life was already difficult, and after the disaster, they cannot continue without immediate, direct help.”
The collective is also performing to aid Puerto Rico. Buscabulla has organized and performed at several fundraisers in New York City since Maria struck. Along with Puerto Rican bands Balún and NOIA, PRIMA hosted a benefit performance at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on Nov. 12. Buscabulla has also released a cover of El Gran Combo‘s Christmas hit Cantares. All the proceeds from the song will go to PRIMA fund.
“It’s amazing that you can bring money in that way for the right purposes. I don’t know, it just really fills me with purpose, true purpose,” Berríos told Remezcla.