A High School Salsa Band In The Inaugural Parade? 'Of Course!'

The young musicians of Seguro Que Si will perform in this weekend's Inaugural Parade. Left to right: Daniel Chico (bass), Kevin Arguelles (piano), Maxwell Frost (timbales), Christopher Muriel (congas), Niyah Lowell (bongos), Annette Rodriguez (vocal), Sean Fernandez (trumpet), Robby Cruz (trumpet). i i

The young musicians of Seguro Que Si will perform in this weekend's Inaugural Parade. Left to right: Daniel Chico (bass), Kevin Arguelles (piano), Maxwell Frost (timbales), Christopher Muriel (congas), Niyah Lowell (bongos), Annette Rodriguez (vocal), Sean Fernandez (trumpet), Robby Cruz (trumpet). Greg Allen/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Greg Allen/NPR
The young musicians of Seguro Que Si will perform in this weekend's Inaugural Parade. Left to right: Daniel Chico (bass), Kevin Arguelles (piano), Maxwell Frost (timbales), Christopher Muriel (congas), Niyah Lowell (bongos), Annette Rodriguez (vocal), Sean Fernandez (trumpet), Robby Cruz (trumpet).

The young musicians of Seguro Que Si will perform in this weekend's Inaugural Parade. Left to right: Daniel Chico (bass), Kevin Arguelles (piano), Maxwell Frost (timbales), Christopher Muriel (congas), Niyah Lowell (bongos), Annette Rodriguez (vocal), Sean Fernandez (trumpet), Robby Cruz (trumpet).

Greg Allen/NPR

In the Inaugural Parade following the president's swearing-in on Monday, regimental and high school marching bands will appear alongside groups showcasing the nation's diversity. These include a float representing South Carolina and Georgia's Gullah-Geechee culture, plus Native American groups and a mariachi band from Texas. Bringing the salsa is Seguro Que Si, a high school band from Kissimmee, Fla.

Seguro Que Si is a nine-member ensemble from central Florida's Osceola County School for the Arts. Teachers and administrators say the salsa band, and the notion to play in the inaugural parade, didn't come from them. It originated with the students — in particular, a sophomore named Maxwell Frost.

Onstage, Frost is animated and irrepressible as a timbale player and bandleader. He says that Seguro Que Si ("Of course" in English) started as a jazz jam that took on a Latin flavor. As he added musicians, a salsa band was born.

Along with music, Frost says he also loves President Obama. He worked as a volunteer in the president's re-election campaign and was determined to attend the inauguration.

"I went online. There was a link for requests to participate," Frost says. "And I said, 'You know what, maybe my band could represent the Latino community, since the demographics this year with Latinos and the voting — a lot of the reason he got elected was because of the Latinos. So I said it would be cool if they could be represented in the parade."

On his own, the 15-year-old applied and got letters of recommendation from the school district and from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). When the inaugural committee called back, Frost says, he was in class.

"My pocket started vibrating and it was my phone. I kind of snuck it out and looked at the number: 202, Washington area code. So I said, 'Sir, I have to use the restroom,'" Frost says, laughing.

He checked his voicemail and learned that Seguro Que Si was in the Inaugural Parade. One of the first people he told was bass player Daniel Chico.

"I couldn't keep my mouth shut," Chico says. "He told me not to tell anyone. But I told the whole band anyway. I was so excited."

These warm-weather Florida teenagers aren't looking forward to playing outside in Washington temperatures, now forecast to be in the 30s or 40s. But, Frost says, who knows? There could be a big L.A. music producer at the parade, ready to give a hot young salsa band from Kissimmee its big break.

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