The Story: How Latinos influenced popular music in the U.S.
The Miami Sound Machine's Primitive Love album from 1986 included the tune Conga!, which became the first single to be simultaneously included on Billboard’s pop, Latin, soul and dance charts.
El Palladium was the center for Latin music and dance in 1950s New York City. Club owner Maxwell Hyman would confiscate the sheet music for Tito Rodriguez's "Sun Sun Babae" before hiring his band to play there because the number encouraged the dancers to move so energetically that they damaged the ceiling of the bar below the ballroom.
Many of the Latino rock ‘n’ roll bands and artists from the 1960s created perplexing monikers, perhaps to conceal their ethnicities and fit into the rock ‘n’ roll mold. Take for instance, Cannibal and the Headhunters and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.
Robert Lopez, a Mexican American better known today as El Vez-the "Mexican Elvis,"-was once a member of The Zeros, a punk band based in Los Angeles.
Carlos Santana started his musical career by playing the violin. He was influenced by his father, José, a violinist in a mariachi band
In addition to its rich European and African heritage, U.S. popular music is flavored with sounds drawn from many parts of the Americas, including indigenous traditions.
Latinos have helped bring these sounds to U.S. audiences, and -- just like European Americans and African Americans -- they have contributed new musical flavors that sprang from their experiences on U.S. soil. While some Latinos crossed the border to come here, others remember how "the border crossed them." The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo annexed California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and parts of Wyoming to the United States. Overnight, Mexicans living in those territories became Mexican Americans. After the 1898 Spanish-American War, Puerto Ricans also found themselves under U.S. control and became U.S. citizens in 1917.
American Sabor presents the musical contributions of these and other U.S. Latinos from the 1940s to the present, a time during which popular music -- music we hear mainly through commercial recordings, radio, and TV -- has become increasingly important to our experience and our definition of who "we" are as Americans.
American Sabor focuses on five cities that have been important centers of musical production for Latino musicians since World War II: