Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

StoryCorps: Historias

Latino USA now continues our special series in conjunction with StoryCorps Historias.

The Torres family actually came from San Francisco. Richard Torres was the eldest male in a family of 10 children. He has 3 daughters, 3 grandsons and 2 granddaughters. They live in San Francisco, New Mexico and Philadelphia. Not too long ago, at StoryCorp in Taos, New Mexico, Richard shared with his daughter Kathy Namba how the love and family commitment he has shown to his children and grandchildren actually came from his parents.


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The Mascareñas family had been farming near Urraca, New Mexico for generations before Lucille married into the family in the 1960s. She recalled a time when she met the family matriarch, Candelaria Mascareñas. Since Candelaria did not speak English and Lucille did not understand Spanish well, it took some time for “acceptance” to set in.


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These audio segments were produced by Nadia Reiman. The Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

José Feliciano

In 2005, legendary musician José Feliciano sat down with Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa. The final result was one of the most intimate radio conversations in the program’s history. If you didn’t know it before, you should know that Feliciano is a great musician. Inspired by Flamenco guitarist Andres Segovia, Feliciano emerged just as the classical guitar was finally being recognized as an instrument of great artistic dimension. But it took time for Feliciano to be recognized in his own country.

Born blind in Puerto Rico in 1945, Feliciano was one of eleven boys. Unable to compete in the physical sports of his brothers, he took up the guitar beginning at age three. By age five, the family moved to New York. He learned the concertina, but soon took up guitar again, listening to records and learning by ear. He would spend as much as 14 hours a day on his guitar. By the age of 17, he began playing clubs.

At a concert in Argentina, promoters convinced Feliciano to stay a little longer and to make a record. In 1966, his old-style Boleros became an international hit throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The success was credited to Feliciano’s style of taking known, old song and adding fresh arrangements, energy and musical twists. Two Spanish albums quickly followed.

By the time he was 23, Feliciano had earned five Grammy nominations. His 1968 hit “Light My Fire,” brought him an English-language audience. And more work went his way, including the theme song for the television show “Chico and the The Man.”

But by far, his most popular song is the 1970 classic, “Feliz Navidad.”


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Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Somewhere, in the dusty birth records filed in Murcia, Spain, either for the year 1951 or the year 1941 (depends on whose account you believe), you’ll find the documentation of the arrival of one María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Moquiere de les Esperades Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Najosa Rasten. We know her as Charo.

Introduced to American audiences by bandleader Xavier Cugat, Charo sort of took over from there. Playing the role of sex-kitten and guitar-playing bombshell, Charo endeared herself to television audiences in the 1970s with a vivacious spirit and her spirited use of language (one fan magazine claimed she learned English from Buddy Hackett), including her trademark “Cuchi-Cuchi.”

Lots of people have laughed about Charo and her persona, including Charo (all the way to the bank.) But the laughter can distract us from seeing a gifted guitarist (a student of Andres Segovia, no less) and a shrewd businesswoman, and that would—somehow—miss the point.

Maria Hinojosa sat down with the entertainer and had a long chat.


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Latino Perceptions of Muslims

In the wake of the shootings at Ft. Hood, Texas earlier this month, there has been considerable discussion about the alleged shooter’s Islamic faith in playing something of a role in the murders. There are many unanswered questions about the shootings. Latino USA’s student producer Xorge Oliveras went to the streets in Austin, Texas to ask Latinos if the events shaped their perceptions of Muslims.


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Community Gardens in Cincinnati

The traditional fall harvest is always a boon to local farmers markets. But at Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, the season has something of a twist. In an effort to meet the growing demand for locally grown produce, the Findlay Market received a USDA grant to help create the Cultivating Healthy Entrepreneurs and Farmers (CHEF) program. The program helps turn urban lots and empty city spaces into community gardens. And this season was the first fall where these farmers sold their goods at the farmers market.

Earlier this summer, local producer Daniel Denvir caught up with some of these urban farmers and sent this report.


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Watch a slideshow as you listen:

Cincinnati’s Community Gardens from NPR's Latino USA on Vimeo.


Multi-Latin Grammy Winner Calle 13

Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 were the big winners at the 10th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, celebrated November 5 in Las Vegas and hosted by actress/singer Lucero and actor/comedian Eugenio Derbez. Calle 13’s René Pérez (aka Residente) and Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante) swept their five nominations, taking home Record and Album Of The Year, Best Urban Music Album, Best Alternative Song, and Best Short Form Music Video.

Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, known as the Voice of Latin America not only for her artistry but her championing of social causes, passed away Oct. 4. Her last album, Cantora 1 won two Latin Grammy awards including Best Folk Album.

Calle 13′s Pérez, known for his irreverent attitude, made perhaps the evening’s most touching gesture in calling onstage Sosa’s producer/musical director Popi Spatocco to hand him the Album Of The Year statuette. Pérez participated in Cantora 1, which had also been nominated in the Album Of The Year category, but lost to Calle 13′s Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo.


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Story Corps Historias: Before they Were Politicos…

The family of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his brother U.S. Rep. John Salazar, in fact, had humble beginnings in their native Colorado. And it wasn’t simply a matter of no toys for Christmas. They recall walking to school in shoes that didn’t match because that’s all they had. But they now credit those experiences with helping them become the adults they are today.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He recalls a story to his daughter Marisa of an important life lesson imparted on him when he was a child going to school. When he was given an award, he didn’t mention it to his mother, who couldn’t speak English. Months later, when it became clear that she knew that there was an awards ceremony that she didn’t go to, she taught him to never be ashamed of who he was.

The family of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his brother U.S. Rep. John Salazar, in fact, had humble beginnings in their native Colorado. And it wasn’t simply a matter of no toys for Christmas. They recall walking to school in shoes that didn’t match because that’s all they had. But they now credit those experiences with helping them become the adults they are today.


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Diaz Family and the Great Depression

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Jones Act, which granted American citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico. The territory had come under U.S. jurisdiction after the Spanish-American War of 1898. Between 1898 and 1917 any Puerto Rican who lived on the U.S. mainland was considered a “resident alien.”

As Puerto Rican citizens, however, the people on the island could not serve in the U.S. military. By making them American citizens, the Jones Act enabled some 20,000 Puerto Ricans to serve in active duty during World War I.

During the 1920s, thousands of Puerto Ricans took advantage of their new American citizenship and came “stateside.” It was a time of economic boom and large cities welcomed the influx of cheap labor.

In 1927, Manny Diaz moved with his family from Puerto Rico to New York. The family had hardly settled in when suddenly the country was in the throes of The Great Depression.

As part of our partnership series Story Corp Historias, here is Manny Diaz’s story.


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Happy Halloween! and ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

The good thing about being Latino is the bicultural approach families often employ when it comes to the holidays, food, self-expression, or just about anything. But not everyone can have it both ways, as Maria Hinojosa observes.


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Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet

Three-time Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace is known for the use of traditional forms and styles in combination with contemporary music. An accomplished arranger, educator, and composer with compositions for film and television, Wallace has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged masters of the Afro-Latin and Jazz idioms such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Hutcherson, Earth Wind and Fire, Pete Escovedo, Santana, Conjunto Libre, Whitney Houston, Tito Puente, Steve Turre, John Lee Hooker, Con-funk-shun, Manny Oquendo and Libre, Max Roach, Orestes Vilató, and others.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Wayne was exposed to Blues, Country and Western, and Jazz at an early age. His studies of Afro-Latin music and Jazz have included several trips to Cuba, New York, and Puerto Rico.

Wayne teaches at San Jose State University, Stanford University and the Jazz School in Berkeley. He is also the head of his own record label, Patois Records. His latest CD is simply titled ¡Bien Bien!


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Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quartet on YOU TUBE.

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