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Inside Bad Bunny’s Concert as An ASL Interpreter: Interview – Billboard

Just days after three back-to-back sold-out shows at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelo, Bad Bunny feels recharged to kick off his 2022 World’s Hottest Tour in Orlando on Friday (Aug. 5).

“The energy of an entire country enjoying and having a great time, without problems, without incidents, all of Puerto Rico united in a single joy!” the artist wrote on Instagram. “Everything was so spontaneous and natural, so many beautiful moments that were not rehearsed, like every word that came from my heart at the moment, and everything was amazing!”

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At the concert, Bad Bunny not only performed songs from his A summer without you album but was also joined on stage by his real-life squad, and had a wave of special guests including Jowell y Randy, Chencho Corleone, Bomba Estereo, The Marias, and Villano Antillano, to name a few.

But the real stars of the night may have been three ASL interpreters, who quickly went viral on social media.

While the Puerto Rican artist had an entire crowd on their feet, Celimar Rivera Cosme, Alexssa Hernández de Jesús, and Evelyn Fuentes Rodríguez were performing the concert in sign language for a designated VIP section of about 30 people from the deaf community.

Though this is increasingly common at concerts and venues around the world, Hernandez assures Billboard that in her 15-year career as a sign language interpreter it’s the “first time this [happened] in an urban concert at El Choli.”

She explains that Celimar, who’s partially deaf and part of the community, took initiative and posted a video on social media asking the Puerto Rican artist to invite them to the concert. A week before the July 28 show, she received an email from Bunny’s label Rimas Entertainment asking how they can better serve the community. Celimar reached out to her friends from Ella Alexssa and Evelyn, and the rest is history.

“Ever since the Bad Bunny concerts, we’re thinking about opening an agency,” Rivera notes. “We’re going to do it because it’s needed at concerts in Puerto Rico.”

Below, read Billboard’s Q&A with Celimar and Alexssa:

When did the opportunity to be a sign language interpreter at Bad Bunny’s concert come to you?

Celimate: On July 8, I posted a video with my friend Roberto who has profound deafness, letting Bad Bunny know that our community wanted to enjoy his concert too. The video went viral on social media and one week before the concert, Rimas reached out to me to be an interpreter at the show. I got really excited, but I couldn’t do this on my own — so I called my good friends Alessa and Evelyn. It was a challenging process, with a lot of stress and sleepless nights, but much needed.

One week’s notice? wow! How did you prepare for the concert? Are you provided with the set list ahead of time?

Celimate: No, we didn’t receive it — but the good thing is that our generation likes to listen to Bad Bunny and old-school reggaetón. Alexssa and Evelyn also love music. Personally, I can’t memorize the lyrics so fast, because I’m partially deaf — so I need to put on headphones, listen to the song, and read the lyrics. However, I already had knowledge of Bad Bunny’s A summer without you album because the songs are very popular right now. I do have to credit Alexssa for saving the day with all of the other songs that were performed at the show — the ones from the special guests such as Jowell y Randy, Tony Dize, Arcangel, Rainao.

Alexssa, I see from your videos that have gone viral on social media that you perform more than just the lyrics, you communicate the songs with your body language.

Alexsa: Correct. That’s very important, because that’s what sign language is about. The audience can feel the vibrations and know if I’m moving according to the song’s beat. It’s not easy, because in sign language you have to conceptualize the lyrics. There’s a specific order — you have to consider the timing, then think of the objects, the place… there’s a certain grammar to it. Facial expressions and body language are a huge part of it.

What do you think this initiative means for the deaf community?

Celimate: A lot of us love music, and there’s a misconception that deaf or hard-of-hearing people don’t listen to music, and that’s not true. I have friends who blast the volume at full blast, because even if they can’t hear it, they like to feel it. A lot of the people who attended the concert had a blast — and that, for me, is incredible, because we were able to give them a concert experience.

Alexsa: Seeing how my co-workers and I worked together was an amazing team effort and an unforgettable moment. I hope more events take this initiative into consideration, because there’s always going to be a deaf person in the crowd that will appreciate having an interpreter. I saw it with my own eyes at the Bad Bunny concert. They were shining and had an incredible time. The deaf community served it, they deserve the accessibility and the respect.

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