A Musical Celebration of Spanish Heritage

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana!

As many of you know, September 15th-October 15th marks the celebration of  National Hispanic Heritage Month. Not only are we recognizing the independence of Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, but we are also celebrating the rich cultures, histories, important figures and peoples of all spanish-speaking countries.

I don’t think I could get away with talking about my love for hispanic culture and its music without mentioning my mom. After college she spent three years living in Costa Rica, making lifelong friends who I now consider my aunts and uncles and their children, my cousins.  I should probably mention the fact that I am not Latina nor do I claim to be one. In fact, my family ancestry couldn’t be further, (German/English) but, nevertheless, my mom fell so deeply in love with Hispanic culture, that she wanted nothing more than to instill that same love in her kids. So, my mom did everything she could to raise her us that way. My siblings and I went to a bilingual Spanish/English immersion school , and since then, developed our own love for the culture in the form of travel, studies, music, art and literature. I definitely wouldn’t be studying Spanish, let alone studying abroad in Mexico if it wasn’t for the appreciation I have developed for the culture, it’s something special my mom and I share. Fun Fact: Before coming back to school, my mom told me that she would go out salsa dancing while she was pregnant with me and that her lifelong dream was to take me out with her someday, and now that I’m 21, she can!

To this day, think of a time when Spanish music wasn’t being played in our house. We grew up listening to Maná, Marc Anthony, Selena Quintanilla and Luis Enrique. When we were younger, my sister and I would dress up in costumes and dance to salsa and merengue music until we were pooped! While I still cannot dance to save my life, I have been able to keep Spanish music close to my heart, especially when I’m far away from home. It’s been really cool for me to see artists that I grew up listening to like, Marc Anthony still releasing music my mom and I can both love and to discover new artists on my own that make me feel the same magic I did when I was six years old twirling around in our kitchen.

I was watching the VMAs back in August and I was amazed to see successful Hispanic artists being recognized on an American awards show. Now, I know this isn’t the first time a Hispanic artist has performed on an award show in the US, but I appreciated the way some artists were able to stick to their roots and include their heritage and their culture in their performances. The first one that comes to mind is Rosalía, a 26 year old singer from Spain. She performed the first part of her song “A Ningun Hombre” and then brought on Puertorican Reggaeton phenomenon Ozuna to sing their hit, “Yo x Tí, Tu x Mí.” Not only was every aspect of that performance stunning, but it was a beautiful way for both artists to represent their heritage on stage. Rosalía who was nominated for three VMAs, later became the first spanish singer to win best Latin Music Video with, “Con Altura” which she did in collaboration with J Balvin and El Guincho.

Now more than ever, celebrations of the Latinx community have become more visible, especially considering the racial controversies within the American identity. These triumphs are evident in the presence of Latinx artists at award shows and at the top of music charts. For example, rapper Cardi B’s collaboration with Bad Bunny and J Balvin brings together multiple hispanic elements in one hit song. All three artists bring different cultural influences to the song, Cardi B having Dominican and Spanish roots, J Balvin being Columbian, and Bad Bunny from Puerto Rico. They sample Puertorican-American artist Pete Rodriguez’s 2014 hit, “I Like it Like That,” (“A mi me gusto así”) as well as giving a shout out to Celia Cruz in one of the verses. This is a song that my friends and I love to dance around to because, not only is it a celebration of Hispanic heritage, it’s a freakin’ good song!

Groups like CNCO (a full article on them to come!), Mau y Ricky, Reik and artists like, Becky G, Luis Fonsi, A.CHAL, Manuel and Julian Turizo, Karol G, and Paloma Mami are all part of a grand community of hispanic artists that are taking the world by storm. Outside of the U.S. non-Spanish-speaking fans are getting involved in the culture by learning the Spanish lyrics to their favorite songs. The spread of Latin music today is not only an international, but a timeless celebration of Hispanic heritage and culture beyond the 30 days we recognize it in the states. *The Spanish and Latin music industries are forever evolving, growing, and revolutionizing the “pop” genre as we know it. For me, Latin music is part of my upbring, a reminder of home and something I share with my mom. Like the culture, Latin music is all-inclusive, it’s meant to be shared, learned from, and celebrated by all people. You don’t have to speak the language to properly celebrate the culture behind it, and that goes for every type of music out there. All you have to do is listen.