Latin music in NYC is as diverse as we are. Much of it is dance music that expresses family, faith, community, and love. It’s the social glue of Latin communities.
We really are a mix of African, European, Indigenous and Asian influences. Maracas, gaita flutes and many drums are Indigenous instruments. The Spanish guitar developed from Arab lutes and similar instruments across Asia. The Pandereta drum of Puerto Rican Plena is originally an Arab drum. The claves (sticks) and cajon (box) are from Cuba. The cajon entered the Spanish Flamenco tradition from Peru. In Trinidad, Soca blends Calypso and South Asian music. In Caribbean New Orleans, European Classical Music becomes Creole Jazz.
Most traditions, from Rumba to Rock, and Salsa to Reggaeton, were forbidden at first, so Latin Music is a form of resistance. Most of the traditions we enjoy today appeared once people got free, so Latin music really is the sound of freedom. And you don’t have to be Latin to enjoy it. In Indigenous and African traditions, everyone is welcome.
There is more Latin music in these categories. Some NYC Dance parties have live music too.
Mother Africa’s Most Famous Singer,
Plays Carnegie Hall
Youssou N’Dour is a Senegalese singer and former politician. “Rolling Stone” magazine has called him the most famous living African singer, and he really is. He is one of Mother Africa’s leading cultural figures and was Senegal’s Minister of Tourism in 2012-13.
N’Dour is known for Senegalese Mbalax music based on Serer sacred puberty rites, but his style of Global Music is a fusion with popular Latin music that came back to Africa. Into his MBalax tradition, N’Dour pours Cuban Rumba, Hip-Hop, Jazz and R&B.
Youssou N’Dour really is the Star of Dakar, and his community-oriented, multicultural perspective makes him one of the world’s guiding lights.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Friday & Sunday, May 20 & 22, 2022
Newark, New Jersey
Friday, May 13, 2022
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Jerome Park, The Bronx
Saturday, May 14, 2022
The Year in Latin Music in NYC
These are annual festivals and a look at upcoming concerts.
Latin Music NYC
January is full of performance showcases for the APAP national booking agent convention.
The APAP booking agent convention is virtual Fri-Mon, Jan 14-17.
Winter JazzFest is postponed.
The Chamber Music America National Conference is virtual Jan 6-9. chamber-music.org
The Prototype contemporary opera theatre festival is at Here, Abrons Art Center, La MaMa and St Ann’s Warehouse, Jan 7-16. prototypefestival.org
The FERUS Festival of avant-garde music is at National Sawdust in Brooklyn Jan 7-29. nationalsawdust.org 🇫🇷
Latin Music NYC
SummerStage usually runs from June – August.
Latin Music is as Diverse as We Are
Latin music in NYC is as diverse as we are. Much of it is dance music that expresses family, faith, community, and love. Music and dance are the glue of Latin communities.
European Classical Music becomes Creole Jazz in the Caribbean. Most traditions, from Rumba to Rock, and Salsa to Reggaeton, were forbidden at first, so Latin Music is a form of resistance. Most of the traditions we enjoy today appeared once people got free, so Latin music really is the sound of freedom. And you don’t have to be Latin to enjoy it.
Mother Africa is our main taproot with European, Indigenous, and Asian influences. African influences are everywhere, even in places you don’t think of as being African Diaspora.
We are united by clave and its inherent syncopation. Call and response are everywhere. , Carnival and Indigenous festival traditions. Latin music is more participatory and a lot of it is for dancing. You don’t sit in a theatre and watch a show, we get up and sing and dance and enjoy ourselves together.
We are mixes of each other and today music is all mixed together.
Like us, Latin music is a mix of African, Indigenous and European traditions, No matter who is playing, Mother Africa is often the main root.
Our music is a form of resistance. The universal story of Latin Music is that was all once prohibited, but survived in secret until it couldn’t be suppressed any more.
So Latin Music is about freedom. The forms we enjoy today, rose in the late 1800s after Emancipation.
Regional Mexican is the most popular Latin music in the United States.
Latin music is a mix of influences. The European Diaspora claimed everything as their own and continue to do so, but popular music’s deepest roots seem to always be African or Indigenous. European classical music has its own timeline, but the forms of popular Latin music we know today all developed as human slavery was outlawed in the Americas in the late 1800s.
During the colonial period, expressing your own culture could bring on sadistic punishments and even get you killed, so it was done in secret. The same was true during the Latin rock era in Argentina and Mexico. So Latin music is a form of resistance. It is always threatened, but always survives because it is a true expression of the people.
In the Latin world, music can be an expression of faith, family, friendship, community and love. The stage is one thing, but the natural habitat of Latin music is living rooms, patios, yards, playgrounds, parks and the street. Drumming, singing and dancing aren’t extraordinary. They are a natural and essential part of who we are. Everyone participates (that’s the great beauty of it) and music and dancing go together.
If you want to know the real history of a region and the real history of a community, you listen to the songs.”Gianluca Tramontana (Rolling Stone, Radio Free Brooklyn) for “Changüí: The Sound of Guantánamo” on Petaluma Records in 2021
Swing (1935-1946), bebop modern jazz (1940s), Latin jazz (1943), disco (1970), salsa (1970s) and hip-hop (1970s) are musical forms of the City itself.
Jazz and reggaeton passed through and were forever changed by New York. House music (1980s) was started at the Warehouse Club in Chicago, but by New York DJ Frankie Knuckles.
The music publishers and Tin Pan Alley are New York. It all gets mixed up with Broadway too. As the world media capital, whatever happens in New York gets sent out into the world.
The Caribbean Roots of Hip-Hop
This is a Jamaican sound system. It’s for a party in the neighborhood. Nowadays there is sound system culture in Brazilian favelas, Colombian comunas, and in cars in New York City, but it’s originally a Jamaican thing.
DJ Cool Herc (Clive Campbell) threw the first hip-hop parties. It all started at “His Back to School Jam” at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in Morris Heights, The Bronx.
Herc did several hip-hop firsts, but he is remembered for his giant speakers, his “herculords.” Campbell is a New Yorker, but he was born in Kingston, Jamaica. So these are some of the Caribbean roots of hip-hop.