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Folkways Playlist: Latino Music Initiative

Smithsonian Folkways

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, has generously shared a cluster of most righteous tracks via their SoundCloud in observance of the recently concluded National Hispanic Heritage month (15 Sept-15 Oct). We at Afropop share a number of concerns with Folkways, including that of strengthening “people’s engagement with their own cultural heritage,” and in enhancing the “awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage” of all peoples. One of the first record companies to offer world music albums to the general public, since its founding in 1948, Moses Asch’s Folkways has developed an unbelievable catalog and a legendary reputation.

Suni Paz, “No Quiero que Te Vayas”, Argentina
Veteran folksinger, songwriter, and guitarist Suni Paz paints a melodious musical mosaic of Argentine folk rhythms, including tango, chacarera, bailecito, carnavalito and gato. Her interpretive and original arrangements breathe new life into classical forms while paying tribute to Argentina’s powerful musical heritage.

Los Pleneros de la 21, “Baila, Julia Loiza (Dance, Julia Loiza)”, Puerto Rico

Los Pleneros have a lengthy musical history and remain a very active organization in New York’s Puerto Rican/Latino community. LP21 is also a performing ensemble which works to preserve traditional Afro-Puerto Rican musics like the Bomba and Plena. They are based in “El Barrio,” the neighborhood of East (or Spanish) Harlem in New York City.

Pedro and Jose Musto with Sylvester Xijache, “Jawbone and Marimba Music”, El Salvador

Though living in El Salvador, the Pipils people are descendants of the Mexican Aztecs. This track is taken from an album which offers a set of Salvadorean folk melodies rooted in both the Spanish and indigenous traditions.

Quetzal, “Imaginaries”, Los Angeles, USA

East L.A.’s sounds combines with traditional son jarocho, salsa, and R&B to express the political and social struggle for self-representation, which ultimately is a struggle for dignity. Quetzal is fresh, crisp and determined.

La Sardina de Naiguatá, “Volvere”, Venezuelan carnival music

Venezuela’s Caribbean coastal town of Naiguatá, from which this group takes its name, is home to one of the country’s most celebrated Carnival musical traditions. Traditional Afro-Caribbean drumming styles were combined with brass, electric bass, keyboard and women’s choruses in the 1970s, and eventually became known simply as Carnival music. La Sardina de Naiguatá drives the town’s annual cycle of public celebrations, including Carnival, Corpus Christi, and St. John the Baptist. Their musical style is influenced by the country’s popular music, especially African-derived styles such as the fulía and central Venezuelan parranda, calypso, and drum-jam beats.

Many of the following track selections are available through The Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Latino Music Initiative, which “proudly offers a series of new releases that showcase the diverse musical heritage of the more than 40 million Latinos living in the USA. Building on the Smithsonian archives’ nearly 200 historic albums of music from Latin America and Latino USA, the new releases highlight musical traditions that further broaden the cultural representation of the national museum’s collection. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings reaffirms its non-profit mission by offering greater access to the musical heritage of Latinos from many backgrounds.”

Check out their website for more information.

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  • Jonathan Een Newton

    Hi there! Smithsonian Folkways here. Thanks for the feature on some of our favorite music for Hispanic Heritage Month! We usually take tracks down after two weeks but we’re working on reuploading the “Jawbone and Marimba Music” for this article. Two more quick things: the track by the Garifuna of Belize seems to have a Sound Cloud link to another track of ours by Quetzal and the Suni Paz paragraph uses “his” instead of “hers.” Thanks again for the support, we have a Facebook post going up about this on next week to send some traffic your way!