Latino USA

Author Archive

Cecilia Lopez: From Soap Opera to Opera

Cecilia Lopez grew up in the fields of Idaho listening to rancheras and watching soap operas. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Cecilia’s passion for music began at an early age as she became a mariachi teenage celebrity in Rupert, Idaho. She would sing rancheras at quincheañera parties. She went to the University of Nevada in Las Vegas for a career as a medical assistant. She tried out for an opera role and got the part. She instantly fell in love with opera and began training as a soprano.

In 2014, she starred in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, for the Martina Arroyo Foundation‘s Prelude to Performance program. The Martina Arroyo Foundation, founded by legendary soprano Martina Arroyo, works to train up-and-coming opera singers for their first full operatic roles.

Latino USA talks to Cecilia Lopez about the amazing story that led her to an opera career, what her Mexican-American background  means to her as an opera performer, and we hear excerpts of her performance as the tragic heroine Violetta in the Martina Arroyo Foundation Prelude to Performance rendition of La Traviata.

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The cast of The Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance rendition of La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, New York.




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Dress rehearsals for Cecilia Lopez as the heartbroken Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, for The Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance, 2014.




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Paul Han as Alfredo and Cecilia Lopez as a dying Violetta in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviatta, for The Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, New York, 2014.







LopezHeadshot Born and raised in Rupert, Idaho to Mexican parents,Lopez discovered her passion for music as a young child. Classical training began at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she was primarily under the tutelage of Dr. Tod Fitzpatrick. Ms. López made her company debut with Opera San José in their 2012-13 season as Leïla in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Leonora in Il trovatore, and the title role in Suor Angelica.





Cover photo by Jen Joyce Davis, courtesy of The Martina Arroyo Foundation. 

Ernie G: Comedy with a purpose

If you ask Ernie G what he does for a living, he’ll tell you he is an empowerment comedian. This professional stand up encourages Latino youth to pursue their dreams and love themselves. But that isn’t what he set out to do originally.

We hear directly from the man himself about how he found his path. And why Latinos should embrace the “ghetto” in themselves.

ErnieG Ernie G’s comedy has been seen by millions on TV shows such as Comedy Central’s

“Make Me Laugh,” B.E.T.’s “Comic View,” Ed McMahon’s

“Next Big Star,” & Sí TV’s “Funny is Funny!” He is one of the original stars of Galavisión’s hit show “Qué Locos!” hosted by George Lopez, along with appearances on HBO Latino’s “Habla Again,” MUN2’s “La Chicas Project,” as well as Sí TV’s “Latino Laugh Festival!” and their hip new show, “Inside Joke!” Many Angelenos remember him as “The Angry Angeleno” from the Ch.13 News, and a Feature Reporter for “Fox Good Day LA!” in Los Angeles.

Ernie has spoken to well over 100,000 Middle School, High School & College Students in over 30 states throughout the country. He has served as the Key Note Speaker at numerous University & H.S. Graduations, including UCLA’s RAZA Graduation, and continues to spread his message of Transformation through Laughter as a National Youth Speaker for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund! He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University with his B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Chicano Studies.

Photo via

NPR CEO Jarl Mohn on Public Radio and Latinos

If you’re a fan of Latino USA, you know we’re on NPR, which–no two ways about it, has a diversity problem. But the network’s new CEO and President, Jarl Mohn, has plans to change that. He tells host Maria Hinojosa that diversity can and should make business sense. And he recognizes that both in the newsroom and in terms of listenership.



jarl_mohn_vert-e045f8d265e8c0d72814f587b287fc3619a50f51-s3-c85Jarl Mohn is President and CEO of NPR, one of the country’s most iconic news and cultural content organizations. In this capacity, Mohn oversees NPR’s global operations and partnerships with more than a thousand public radio stations, serving over 30 million people who listen to NPR programming each week.





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Los Jets: A North Carolina Soccer Team Defies the Odds

In Siler City, North Carolina, young Latinos have had to defy the odds both on and off the field. The new Hulu and NuvoTV series Los Jets tells the stories of these boys, and that of coach Paul Cuadros, who fought to create a soccer team at his local high school as Siler City’s demographics changed dramatically. Paul Cuadros and executive producer Lynda Lopez join Maria Hinojosa to discuss the players, their struggles, and their victories.

Photo/Courtesy NUVOtv

Tejano Trails

Many Latinos in Texas can trace their history back to the 1690s. They are descendants of Spanish, Mexican and indigenous people who were here when the land was part of Mexico, later the Republic of Texas and finally part of the US. They don’t consider themselves either Mexican or Anglo Texans. They’re Tejanos, and proud of it.

A group called Preservation Austin has created a 6-mile series of walking tours through Austin that highlight the city’s Tejano history. They criss-cross the historically Latino—and rapidly gentrifying—neighborhood of East Austin.

In this piece, KUT reporter Veronica Zaragovia takes us on a tour of Austin’s Tejano Trails. Below, you can find photographs of some of the people she met along the way.


Johnny Degollado, Tejano music legend, plays his accordion at the outdoor venue named in his honor – the Johnny Degollado Pavillion at Fiesta Gardens.


Diana Herrera Castañeda outside the 1930s-era wooden home that belonged to her grandmother, part of the early wave of working-class Latinos who settled in the neighborhood.


Former East Austin resident Richard Moya in the halls of Zavala Elementary School, where he was once a student. Zavala was built in 1936 especially for the neighborhood’s Latino children.

 Photos courtesy of Veronica Zaragovia. 

Sheila E Keeps the Beat Going

Singer and percussionist, Sheila E, first broke out in the 1980s with her hit “Glamorous Life.” Decades later she’s still got it. She recently released both a new album, Icon, and a new book, The Beat of My Own Drum: A Memoir.

She opens up to Maria Hinojosa about past abuse, being limited by the music industry, and East Coast versus West Coast.

Both her new album and her new book can be found at


The 36th Kennedy Center Honors GalaSheila Escovedo, known as Sheila E, is a world-class drummer and percussionist whose credits read like chapters in a music history book: Ringo Starr. Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan and George Duke. Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter behind the seminal hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre.” Sheila is a fearless multi-instrumentalist, as well as an Actress, Mentor, and Philanthropist.




Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Bomba Returns: An Afro-Puerto Rican Music Genre Thrives In New York

Puerto Rico is famous for its top salsa musicians. But if you really want to get the party started on the island, you have to play some bomba.

Bomba is one of the island’s oldest music forms, combining African, indigenous Taíno and Spanish musical elements. The music is performed on booming hand drums and sung in call-and-response style.

By the 1950s, bomba had fallen out of fashion and had been relegated to folkloric dance troupes. But over the last 20 years, bomba has come back in a big way. Today, it’s thriving right here in New York City, connecting Boricuas in the diaspora to their roots.

Photo by Roxanne Scott

Sabiduría: Ain’t I Latina?

Janel Martinez writes about tech. Writing about others in tech helped her when she decided to launch her own site. She is the founder of The site celebrates what it is to be Latina, particularly, Afro-Latina.

Janel helps us end our show this week by telling us two big things she’s learned recently.


JanelMartinez_by_MaureenErokwu Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist. Martinez currently serves as Content Producer at NewME, a customizable support platform that transforms cool ideas into great businesses. She previously served as Technology Editor at Black Enterprise, the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans, where she oversaw the editorial strategy for technology across the company’s platforms. Her work and insights have appeared on various media sites including TheGrio, Madame Noire and The Root, as well as Arise News and NPR’s Latino USA.

The Honduran-American added entrepreneur to her title, launching, an online destination celebrating diversity among Latinas. Founded to fill a void in the representation of Afro-Latinas in both mainstream as well as Spanish-language media, offers profiles of Afro-Latinas across the globe, celebrity news, career advice, lifestyle coverage and exclusive interviews with today’s hottest celebs.

The Bronx, NY native has contributed to Latina Magazine,,, Syracuse Record and The Post-Standard. You can follow her daily musings on Twitter at @janelmwrites.


Photos via Maureen Erokwu and

This Week’s Music: ¡Showtime!

This week’s music includes:


-Bad Behavior by Mexican Dubwiser

-Tu Fin, Mi Combienzo by Ocote Soul Sounds

-Alta Farra (Featuring Gabriel Navia) by Bondi Blaster

-In the Ghetto by El Principe Gitano

-Como Quieres by Caramelo

-Cerca Del Mar Y El Monte by Soneros del Valle

-Hormiguitas Divinas by Quetzal 

-Bomba Navideña by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico 

-Maquino Landero by Cortijo y Su Combo

-The Glamorous Life by Sheila E

-Girl Like Me by Sheila E

-Fiesta by Sheila E

-The Belle of St. Mark by Sheila E

-Musica Ligera by Soda Stereo


-Somnium by Rodrigo y Gabriela 

This Week’s Captions: ¡Showtime!

This week we find out what it means to be in the onstage and on the spot. We meet an opera singer who loves telenovelas, a comedian who inspires young Latinos. We hear the drum beats of Puerto Rican Bomba music, learn about a new reality show starring undocumented kids. We put pressure on the new president and CEO of NPR. We shine a spotlight on Tejanos, and a tech journalist tells us what it means to “fail fast.” And Maria Hinojosa interviews the legendary Sheila E and we find out what makes her so cool.


Latino USA, the foremost Latino voice in public media and the longest running Latino-focused program on radio, is the first radio program to commence equal-access distribution via Captioning for Radio. “Research has shown that Latino children have a higher incidence of hearing loss and deafness than other populations,” according to Latino USA’s Anchor & Executive Producer Maria Hinojosa. “When the opportunity to break this sound barrier came to our attention, we were pleased to embrace this new technology developed by NPR Labs and Towson University for the thousands of Latinos with serious hearing loss.”
The International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), a strategic alliance between NPR and Towson University, is co-directed by Mike Starling of NPR and Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University.
For each week’s captioning, check back on



THIS WEEK'S SHOW: In this week's show,…

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