Leandro Mena. Photo Diana Perez.
Latin All Star
By Diana Perez
“NEVER let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.”
That was advice given from someone who has proven he cannot be stopped when it comes to achieving his goals.
Growing up in Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba, music was a major part of Leandro Mena‘s life, both from his mother’s side as well as his father’s side. “I was inspired one day, listening to music, and felt that was what I had to do,” Mena said.
Percussionist Mena, 31, started playing music at 9 years old, and decided to take his passion for music even further by pursuing a higher education and majoring in music.
Mena got his first gig as a musician in 1997 at 14 years old. He was asked to play as the special guest musician in La Casa de la Música in Miramar Playa, Habana, Cuba with the Anacaona orchestra, an all-girl band founded in the 1930s.
At 16, Mena auditioned and played in a show that made national news, “Havana Night Club the Show,” something he thought he would never be chosen to be part of because he was so young and there were many other talented drummers auditioning for the spot.
The show started in Cuba, and ran there for a few years before making its way to the United States, traveling to about 17 countries such as Thailand, Japan, Australia, Italy and Spain.
After being granted political asylum in 2007, Mena and other cast members made their way to the United States. The show hit the stage of the former Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and ran until 2008.
“Leo has been a very talented and studious musician since he was young,” Mayelin Torres said, a fellow cast member.
Upon the show’s ending in 2008, many cast members decided to go back to Cuba or move to other countries. Mena, however, stayed in Las Vegas and continued to pursue other projects.
Mena started his own music production company, MCL Productions. The company produces music for up and coming artists such as Jorge Chavez, a Christian musician; and AC Element, Mena’s own band with cast members from Havana Night Club the Show that he formed in 2009.
He is also working as the percussionist in the local Latin band, Latin All Stars Orchestra, that performs every other Saturday at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.
“He is an extraordinary musician, and his professionalism has led him to share the stage with many of the big names in music,” Rosita Penichet, lead singer of Latin All Stars Orchestra, said.
Mena has had the privilege to work with many top names in music. He has played in the Latin Grammys with various artists, and has also had the opportunity to play for Pitbull at a concert in Cancun, Mexico.
“I truly admire Leo’s passion for music,” stated colleague and friend, Dj Jose Munoz, who wants his son to learn the true essence of percussion from Mena.
Mena feels there is so much more to be done and is constantly working on projects.
“There is a lot more music to be done,” says Mena, and with his perseverance, passion, knowledge and talent, there is nothing that can stop him from achieving goals he feels he has yet to achieve.
Diana Perez, 30, was born and raised in Las Vegas She is a senior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, pursuing a career in Broadcast Journalism. She also works as the Assistant Principal Secretary at Lied Middle School.