Latin Music USA -- a fresh take on US musical history -- will premiere nationally on PBS in October 2009, during Hispanic Heritage Month, moving from a previously scheduled January 2009 premiere. The series also adds Spanish-language broadcaster V-me to its roster of strategic partners.
The four-hour documentary series, produced by a world-class team from WGBH and the BBC, reaches across musical genres and across five decades to celebrate the exciting range of hybrid sounds created by Latinos in the United States, and the influence of Latin rhythms on jazz, rock, country, and rhythm and blues.
"Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate Latino heritage and culture and honor the contributions of Latinos to the United States," says Margaret Drain, vice president of national programming at WGBH. "Once people see Latin Music USA, we think they will further recognize how the cultural and musical influences of Latinos are embedded in American culture, every day of the year."
To strengthen the project's multi-media approach and bilingual outreach, Latin Music USA has partnered with V-me, the fastest growing Hispanic TV network in history. V-me will also premiere the series in October 2009, fully translated and narrated in Spanish.
"As a network, V-me showcases and reflects the American Latino experience 24 hours a day," said V-me's President, Carmen DiRienzo, "We're proud to present this important and distinguished series to Spanish-speakers across the U.S. on our national platform."
V-me is a Spanish-language, 24-hour, digital broadcast service presented by affiliate PBS stations. It is also carried on basic cable in major markets and nationally via satellite.
"Our multi-media strategy for the project is to invite all audiences into the vibrant musical conversation between Latinos and non-Latinos that has helped shape the history of popular music in the US," says Elizabeth Deane, series executive producer. " The Spanish language partnership with V-me gives Latin Music USA an extraordinary opportunity to present the series to an even wider audience."
V-me joins an impressive cadre of project partners, including People En Español, the top-selling Hispanic magazine in the United States, which will feature exclusive editorial content online and in-magazine; and the Smithsonian Latino Center, which will develop an event to be held prior to the premiere at a Smithsonian venue in Washington, DC.Latin Music USA is planning major events for the project in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, New York, and is working with PBS stations to develop Latino heritage events around Latin Music USA in a number of communities leading up to the series premiere.
The series features memorable characters and vibrant music and dance showcasing the impressive range of Latin music in the US, including Salsa greats Willie Colón and Marc Anthony; the Latin-inflected sounds found in much of sixties rock and roll from the Drifters to Motown to the Rolling Stones; the genius of Texas accordion player Flaco Jiménez; Carlos Santana; Linda Ronstadt; the legendary Chicano rock band Los Lobos; megastars Gloria and Emilio Estefan; Rock En Espanol star Juanes; Miami rapper Pitbull; Reggaeton performers Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderón; and Lin-Manuel Miranda of the Tony Award-winning musical "In the Heights."
Their stories reveal how Latinos have reinvented their music in the United States and forged new identities within this country, while never losing sight of their own rich traditions.
Latin Music USA Series
Latin Music USA is a story about American music. Fusions of Latin sounds with jazz, rock, country, rhythm and blues - music with deeper roots and broader reach than most people realize. The series will air in two parts:
· Program One: The first program traces the rise of Latin Jazz and the explosion of the Mambo and the Cha Cha Chá as they sweep the US from East to West. Latin Music infiltrates R&B and rock & roll through the 1960s.
· Program Two: Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in New York reinvent the Cuban son and the Puerto Rican plena, adding elements from soul and jazz to create Salsa, which becomes a defining rhythm for Latinos the world over.
· Program Three: Mexican-Americans in California, Texas and across the Southwest create their own distinct musical voices during the second half of the 20th century. Their music would play an important role in the struggle for Chicano civil rights and ultimately propel them from the barrio to the national stage.
· Program Four: The last program in the series looks at the Latin pop explosion of the turn of the century, focusing on the success of artists like Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Shakira in the English-language market in the context of an increasingly Latinized US. As studios focus on star-driven pop, Latino youth gravitates toward urban fusions - Spanish rap and Reggaeton. Rising numbers of Latinos entering the US create new markets for genres like Rock en Español.