The Musical Styles of New York City

Long America's symbolic center of innovation, economic freedom and the "American Dream," New York City has welcomed hopeful immigrants from all over the world and is home to a large Latino population. Consequently, New York City is perhaps the most important place in the history of popular Latino music, spawning, influencing and expounding on so many genres within the city's diverse Latino music scenes.

Resident Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians -- and later Dominican -- were instrumental in the early 20th century with the initial fusion of traditional Latin rhythms and forms with popular contemporary American styles. This cultural synthesis gave birth to many new music genres: rumba, mambo, salsa, merengue, cha cha cha, boogaloo and others. All were rooted strongly in Caribbean traditions and perfected and popularized by musicians in New York City.Perhaps the most important genre developed in New York City, however, is the vast category known as Latin jazz.

It borrowed from numerous traditional Latin styles, yet incorporated the instrumentation and approach of popular jazz music in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.Becoming an international sensation with many sub-genres and interpretations, Latin jazz styles are all based on the initial synthesis of cultural traditions in New York City. More recently, the city's Latino residents have been instrumental in the formation of new genres like hip-hop and reggaeton. From the stage of the famous Palladium Ballroom to the lesser-known backstreets of Spanish Harlem, New York City is hallowed ground in the history of Latino music.

New York City's influential Latin musicians, both adopted and native, are far too numerous to name. American Sabor highlights some of these artists and a handful of the genres they helped popularize in America. Learn more about the extensive history of Latino music in New York City and encounter pivotal moments in the invention of many key genres of Latino American music.