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‘Empowerment and hope’: Hip-hop duo Landon Wordswell and ‘The Don’ Avelar to bring positive vibe to Juneteenth party

Landon Wordswell and Ricardo “The Don” Avelar will perform in Albuquerque as part the Juneteenth celebration. (Courtesy of AMW)

Growing up in Las Cruces, Ricardo “The Don” Avelar was exposed to different types of music.

With those influences in tow, he is now a musician making a name for himself.

He’s teamed up with Landon Wordswell to make music.

The two release their music under Landon Wordswell and The Don Avelar.

“We feel like (with) every album, we elevate our sound,” Avelar says. “I started playing guitar when I was in fifth grade and then played trumpet in the marching band. As I grew older, I continued to create beats and share them with other musicians. It’s always evolving.”

Wordswell and Avelar will be among the featured guests in “New Mexico Juneteenth 2021 – To a Higher Ground” beginning on Friday, June 18, and running through Sunday, June 20, at Civic Plaza in Downtown Albuquerque. Their set is at 9:25 p.m. Friday, June 18.

The event marks the journey of Maj. General Gordon Granger, who arrived in Galveston, Texas, along with Union soldiers on June 19, 1865. His main purpose was to inform still-enslaved Black men, women and children of their freedom.

The hip-hop duo has been busy working on new music and never slowed down in the pandemic.

The pair released their latest studio record, “I’m Tired,” in December and then quickly went back into the studio.

The first single from the forthcoming album is called “Royalty Pt. 1.” Featured on the song is vocalist Shateish.

The pair says that, like most of the rest of their coming LP, “Royalty Pt. 1” was deeply influenced by the American zeitgeist of 2020, but ultimately leans into the positive end of the spectrum that celebrates those who seek to persevere.

“We let Shateish have her way with the hook/chorus and, once delivered, she informed me that she makes music to empower others,” they say. “This was a powerful statement to me at the time, especially on listening to what she sent back. We actually had the album pretty much done, but this song basically compelled us to rewrite our album with the idea of empowerment and hope in mind.”

Avelar says the duo plans to hit the road in the fall after the album’s release.

“We’re already wanting to make another,” he says. “We both have the same goal in mind and we work well together. Whatever opportunity comes, we’re going to open it.”

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