American Music at NMAH

In 2005, the Program in Latino History and Culture participated in the Museum's "American Music at American History" with a a four-part performance series in July 2005 on Latin American and Caribbean musical traditions related to salsa in conjunction with the exhibition ¡Azúcar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz.

The first musical program presented featured Ashé Moyubba, the Latin American Folk Institute’s Afro-Cuban folklore ensemble, and two Afro-Puerto Rican groups from New York City: Yaya Ensemble and Alma Moyo. Visitors experienced the unique call and response aspect of these musical traditions in the finale of the program.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the growing Latino and immigrant Latin American population spurred a fusion of jazz, pop and traditional music from their home countries. To celebrate this fusion, PLHC hosted Los del Barrio. This second program was a tribute to classic salsa produced in urban centers. ¡Sofrito! was an interactive dance class and performance.

Cumbia, Vallenato and Merengue, the third installment of the series, demonstrated how musical elements from Colombia and the Dominican Republic are common to salsa music. The program featured Canelaz and Conjunto Folklorico Alianza Dominicana from New York City. Towards the end of the two-hour program the dance floor was packed with merengue dancers of all ages.

Bio Ritmo, a Richmond, VA-based group, wrapped up the music and performance series with an evening concert. Participants enjoyed the music and danced to the great 1970s style salsa performed by Bio Ritmo.