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Spanish Music in the United States
Jenna Leeon 11 June 2011
Transcript of Spanish Music in the United States
the ultimate explosion of rock n’ roll culture
goes to “That’s Alright Mama”. The song was
one of three songs recorded on July 5, 1954 by a nineteen year old Elvis Aaron Presley [Vega]. What's most interesting about Spanish rock n' roll is that the first band to ever be heard was the Don Tosti Band in 1948 with the song "Pachuco Boogie". "Pachuco Boogie" combines "the Spanish language, Mexican accent, Afro-American rhythms and harmonies of the blues" [Conquistaron]. In 1958, a young man of Spanish descent named Ritchie Valens would take a traditional Mexican folk song, and would turn it into a top 40 hit in the U.S. charts and one of early rock n’ roll's best-known songs: “La Bamba” [Rock] Sadly, Valens’ career would be short lived when he, like fellow musician Buddy Holly, would die in a plane crash on February 3, 1959; “the day that music died” as said by fans. While Valens was singing about how you
needed a little grace to dance the Bamba, there
was another musician who would be fleeing to the
United States from Cuba: Celia Cruz [Celia] Before the revolution, Cruz gained stardom
when she replaced lead singer, Myrta Silva,
for the orchestra La Sonora Matancera in 1950. In 1959, Cruz would create a new home in the United States after fleeing from the Cuba revolution that same year. In 1962, Cruz went solo with the help of her new husband, Pedro Knight, who would serve as both her manager and musical director. Despite recording over twenty albums, “Cruz was slow to find a wide audience in the United States during the 1960s”; Cruz found success when she became “identified with salsa, a type of Hispanic dance music that evolved from musical experimentation with Caribbean sounds” [Celia]. Celia was discovered by a younger generation
of Latin-Americans by singing in the Latin opera, Hommy, in 1973; a
version of the band, The Who’s, rock opera, Tommy. Celia Cruz is most well known for her "operatic"
voice as well as her “flamboyant costumes, which
included various colored wigs, tight sequined dresses, and outlandishly high heels”; it is no wonder that she is known as the “Queen of Salsa” [Celia]. After Cruz, there was a bit of a flat line in regards to Spanish crossover music. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Latin crossover musicians began to resurface... In 1984, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine began their crossover to English music; and in 1985, they released the album, “Primitive Love” [Latin]. With “Primitive Love” came three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “Conga” (U.S. #10), “Words Get In The Way” (U.S. #5), and “Bad Boy” (U.S. #8); moreover, the song “Hot Summer Nights” would be released that same year and would it would be featured in the blockbuster movie, Top Gun [Latin]. Since then, Estefan has been the bridge between both the modern worlds of English and Spanish music for the mid to late 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In the 90s, another major Spanish crossover musician was Selena who was nicknamed the “Queen of Tejano Music” and in 1994, Selena became the first Latin artist to have four number one hits in a year... Sadly Selena was only had only recorded 4 out of 13 songs for her English crossover album, “Dreaming of You”, when Selena was murdered in 1995 in her hotel room. [Latin] Despite Selena’s death, the “Latin explosion” continued in the late 1990s with a handful of rising stars that included: Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer Lopez... Moving on to the 2000s, the United States had very few new crossover acts; the only ones that proved to be successful were Spanish pop princesses, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Aguilera (although Aguilera started singing in English then transferred to Spanish). In 2001, Columbian singer, Shakira, started to work on her first crossover album; this would not have been possible if there was not a surge in popularity for crossover musicians in mainstream music during the 90s. “Whenever, Wherever” (or “Suerte” in the Spanish speaking countries), was the lead single for both Shakira’s first English album and her third studio album throughout the period of August 2001 and in February 2002. The song relied heavily on the influence of Andean music, which included instruments like the charango and panpipes [Latin]. Today in the modern music world, many famous artists Sing Spanish as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Enrique Iglesias are still around. Only now, the United States Spanish musicians have crossed over to add to the queue, although the music is mostly just a bunch of rhythms and synthesizers. My favorite songs are "Bon Bon" by Cuban rapper Pitbull, the hit dance song "I Like It" by Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull, and "On The Floor" Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull. On the other hand, I'm also into a few songs where Spanish can be heard in because of the background of band member. Two of my favorites are "Smile For The Paparazzi" by Cobra Starship and "Mark David Chapman" by Mindless Self Indulgence.
WARNING: There's naughty language. Heck, sometimes you don't even need to be Spanish in order to join the culture. For example, the band The White Stripes use Spanish subtitles for the video, "Icky Thump" to discuss the issue of illegal immigrants and the border patrol situation. And last month , Lady Gaga sang in Spanish and incorperated a Spanish style of music in the song "Americano" on her third album, Born This Way.