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Latinos in U.S. Popular Music: A free multimedia exhibition opens at The New York Public Library
Desi Arnaz LP jacket courtesy Experience Music Project. In 1937, entertainer Desi Arnaz, who had fled Cuba for Miami after the 1933 Battista takeover, introduced the conga line to Miami Beach. His 1947 hit single “Babalú” and his star role in the TV show I Love Lucy helped popularize Latin music as fun and lightweight.
NEW YORK, NY.- From Ritchie Valens to Carlos Santana to Selena, the musical contributions of U.S. Latinos from the 1940s to present day is being explored in the free exhibition American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music which opened at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on April 20. Created by EMP Museum, the University of Washington, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, its national tour and its related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund. Accompanying the exhibition is a display of materials on Latino music and dance from the earliest days of recorded sound to the 1940s from The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts collections. A series of programs and screenings are scheduled at The Library throughout May and June. American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music is on display in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery from April 20, 2013 thru July 13, 2013 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Admission is free.

“Latin music and dance have been an important part of the sound and rhythm of America throughout the nation’s history,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleishman Executive Director of NYPL for the Performing Arts. “The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is thrilled to be partnering with so many outstanding organizations to celebrate this rich cultural heritage by bringing this magnificent exhibition to New York for the first time.”

American Sabor (sabor is the Spanish word for taste or flavor, commonly used to describe good music) documents the roles of post-World War II U.S. Latino musicians as interpreters and disseminators of Latin American genres while highlighting their innovations in various traditional U.S. genres.

The exhibition focuses on five major centers of Latino popular music production – New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and San Francisco – that represent the remarkable diversity of this music. Each city section explores the broader histories and cultures that created the music from those areas, including how the musical innovations of Latino youths crossed ethnic and racial boundaries and helped shape American popular music, how immigration and migration influenced Latino and U.S. popular music and the ways in which Latinos have musically expressed their experiences as Americans.

“From mambo and salsa to hip hop and reggaetón, New York has long been a center of Latin music,” said Anna R. Cohn, director of SITES. “The impact of Latino musicians on American popular music moves beyond the unmistakable rhythms and dance. American Sabor tells the broader story of Latino communities and how their artistry expresses their experiences as Americans.”

Based on the 5,000-square-foot exhibition of the same name, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, is a 3,500-square-foot learning experience designed for smaller museums and cultural centers. With engaging bilingual (English and Spanish) text panels, striking graphics and photographs, a dance floor and compelling listening stations and films, the exhibition celebrates the true flavor, or “sabor” of Latin music in the United States.





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