Through enthusiastic performances, creativity, diversity, energy, and perseverance, Latin American artists and composers gain love and admiration from American listeners. In addition to promoting well-known genres such as rock and roll, country, punk, and jazz, Hispanic musicians have also included their native motives, which are widely spread in the local communities. Therefore, the current paper seeks to examine the contributions of Latin American musicians, who sought to produce unique sound and conquer the mainstream music scene of North America, to the U.S. culture.
In fact, a wide variety of rhythms and styles have drastically transformed the music and U.S. culture. Most of the Latino composers and artists perform traditional songs, thus demonstrating their commitment and reverence to the ancestors. They have also brought new influences and instruments to the modern music (Anderson & Campbell, 2010). Nowadays every American listener can hear more and more new hits from Latino musicians in movies, TV, and radio. Doubtless, the U.S. culture is enriched by Latin sounds, motives, and beats, expressing lifestyle, identity, and values of the Hispanic culture.
If to speak about the most eminent representative of Latino music scene in the U.S., it was definitely Ritchie Valens. In the 1950s, this Californian musician offered his own version of a Mexican folk song “La Bamba” and made it one of the greatest hits. In fact, Valens’ talented band consisted of classmates with various backgrounds — Japanese, Americans, white and black young people. His famous ballad “Donna” was also written by the racially integrated band, thus demonstrating own commitment to the diversity and creativity. Moreover, Valens contributed to the U.S. culture by shaping the unique sound of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s as well (Macias, 2008). Later, the renowned Californian band Los Lobos performed Valens’ hit “La Bamba” in a documentary dedicated to the deceased performer. This recording significantly affected the consequent generation of talented musicians.
In the 1960s, the other eminent performers such as Puente, Prado, and Barretto mixed Latino, Cuban, Caribbean, and African American rhythms and styles. As a result, the Latin soul and boogaloo emerged (Macias, 2008). Carlos Santana has also significantly contributed to the U.S. culture by promoting the Caribbean sounds through the soulful electric guitar. He has popularized blues in the USA. In his turn, Tito Puente with his great hit “Mambo King” did not leave the American audience indifferent to the popular music as well (Powell, 2007). Thus, the U.S. culture has been enriched by the memorable, influential, innovative, and rhythmic sound. As a result, music has occupied an important place in people’s lives.
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By the 1970s, the development of multi-ethnic and energetic bands such as Tower of Power, the Family Stone, and Sly significantly affected the U.S. music scene. The members of these musical groups belonged to various ethnicities. However, despite the diversity, they delivered the powerful messages and created unique and unbelievable styles (Weisbard, 2007). This Latino artistic movement even inspired dances by popularizing them within diverse communities throughout the country. Julio and Enrique Iglesias, Selena, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, and Gloria Estefan added color and unique voices to the U.S. music (Macias, 2008). Latin style and sounds also significantly affected the way punk rockers and hip-hop artists created and gained the popularity at that time.
However, prejudice, bias, and discrimination prevented many talented and creative beginners of Latin American region from signing contracts and succeeding in the musical career. In some cases, prejudice is left behind, but the issues with music promotion still remain. The talented beginners, who do not have financial resources for self-promotion, find it hard to get acquainted with professionals overseas and enlist their support. Fortunately, many successful Latino performers, who have reached heights in the USA and enriched its culture, help young people with entering the music market.
In conclusion, the U.S. listener recognizes the mix of various backgrounds, traditions, styles, and sounds proposed by most of the Latino musicians, who want to gain popularity and affect the culture of foreign country. The influence of Latin music on Americans is great as diverse ethnic groups have contributed and enriched the musical scene for many years. Various styles brought young people, regardless of their origin, to the clubs and provided more opportunities to the beginners in the USA. Thus, music has played an important role in the formation of human values.
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