La Voz Latina and Temple of Hip Hop Host Afro-Latino Music Listening Party

Linnea Mayo ’26

Arts & Entertainment Editor

On Feb 19. 2023, La Voz Latina (LVL) and Temple of Hip Hop hosted an African Latino Music Listening Party in the Underground Coffeehouse in recognition of Black History Month. The event consisted of an open tab and educational presentation honoring a wide variety of African influences in Latino Music, as well as Afro-Latino musicians and artists. The event was spearheaded and organized by Temple of Hip Hop Social Media Chair Jessica Salinas Rodriguez ‘27 and LVL First Year Representative Kamille Anaya ‘27. The two collaborated on this event because they recognized the lack of representation and appreciation for Afro-Latino music.

“These days, when people think of Latin music the first thing they think of is reggaeton because it’s what’s popular right now. It’s regional and has become really popular, but there’s a lot of other Latin genres that people don’t recognize that are very influenced by African influences,” explains Salinas.

The two spent a long time researching the history behind Afro-Latino music. Anaya explains that it was difficult to research because many aspects connect back to Cuba or the Triangular Trade. “Trying to figure out where it all comes from is very difficult, and how it came together with Spaniard and Indigenous roots,” Anaya describes.

The misconceptions and gaps in history further emphasizes why celebrating Afro-Latino music is incredibly valuable. The event organizers aimed to create community through the music, and hoped that the event would provide a rewarding opportunity for those who appreciate the art of Afro-Latino music. Music has long been a tool to bring people together, and the event did just that. Throughout the evening, a Spotify playlist was queued, which kept the energy lively and full of culture. The beats and rhythms filled The Underground for an hour, and the playlist included hits from artists like Trio Matamoros, Perez Prado and Marabuu.

When asked what she was most looking forward to, Ananya explains that she was most “excited for the listening part because the playlist took a lot of time to create and craft, especially spotlighting and figuring out artists prior to the ‘80s.” A link to the playlist and all other songs were shared to participants at the end of the night.

Ananya’s and Salinas’s presentation educated people on a variety of Afro-Latino music genres, including Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia and Samba Son Cubano, as well as a brief description of the research they’d done on all of them. Merengue artists such as Wilfrido Varga, Fefita La Grande and Cuco Valoy, and Cumbia artists like Luis Carlos Meyer, Rafael De Paz and Joe Arroyo were highlighted. The presentation further recognized Afro-Latino pioneers in Bachata music, including Monchy Alexandra, Aventura and XTreme.

When asked about how this event aimed to celebrate Black History Month, Salinas explains that “many issues stem from people de-colonizing their minds. What we’re celebrating relates to colonization and the after-effects of colonization and how the experience of Black people in America is very special and unique because their experience allows them to bond.”

The two also hoped to recognize the intersection between culture and race through this event, and create a space to celebrate the diverse history of the Afro-Latino experience in America and other countries around the world. “People want to debate about ethnicity and race and how that makes people relate, and how there is only culture in ethnicity, but I think there’s a lot of culture in race as well. I think that’s one element we would like to celebrate through the event and want to get across,” says Salinas.

Looking ahead, Temple will be hosting their 18th annual International Hip- Hop Festival from April 4 to April 7, and LVL has many exciting events planned for the rest of the semester.

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