The Sabor Blog

News, Events & Stories from the Latino Community across the U.S.

Artists Champion Their Heritage Through Music

Latino influences can be seen everywhere in the U.S. Salsa competes head to head with ketchup as America’s condiment of choice. Who hasn’t heard or danced to the “Macarena”? Even Elmo and his pals on “Sesame Street” have rocked out to mariachi music on their show. 

American Sabor also highlights Latino influence with examples of Hispanic musicians who became famous in this country for their contributions to mainstream American music. Interestingly enough, many returned to the Latino musical sounds of their parents; music they probably grew up listening to at home. Two great examples are Ritchie Valens and Linda Ronstadt.

Courtesy of Ruben MolinaRising pop star, Ritchie Valens, grew up listening to a hybrid of his parents’ Mexican mariachi music and boleros, and mainstream American rock 'n roll. Valens hit the billboard chart with his rock 'n roll song “Donna.” Yet it was his 1958 rendition of the Mexican songclassic “La Bamba”— inspired by a trip with his family to Tijuana—that proved groundbreaking at the time. It was one of the few Spanish-language songs to hit the top 50, introducing a traditional Mexican musical style into the charts. Valens, who was also one of the first Latino artists to transition to mainstream music, is said to have paved the way for many of today’s Latino musicians who incorporate Latin sounds into mainstream music.  

Thirty years later, after achieving platinum success and winning multiple Grammy awards, Linda Ronstadt, released an album of mariachi music called Canciones de mi padre or my father’s songs. Through Canciones de mi padre released in 1987 she championed her multicultural roots by paying homage to her father’s Mexican heritage. The album was recorded with Mariachi Vargas, one of Mexico’s finest mariachi bands.

Much like Ritchie Valens, Ronstadt was influenced by the Latino musical sounds she heard at home and infused those sounds into successful albums that helped extend the reach and awareness about a quintessential Mexican musical style. Check out Linda Ronstadt performing a version of “La Charreada” from Canciones de mi padre on “Sesame Street” below.




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