Musical Mondays

Connecting Communities With Music

Week 84

Erik Alejandro Rodriguez, better known as Cimafunk, is one of the most popular new talents from Cuba. His music incorporates distinct Afro-Cuban rhythms with modern funk, pop, and electronic styles to construct a new genre in the island’s music scene. Cimafunk’s name refers to his heritage as a ‘Cimarrón,’ Cubans of African descent who resisted and escaped slavery, as well as the influence from rhythm and blues and soul music. He performed on NPR’s tiny desk in February of this year.

Week 83

Each year from September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized in the U.S by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of those whose ancestors hail from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. In the spirit of Musical Monday, we proudly share the 1972 documentary film from Fania Records titled Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa) about the captivating Latin music scene in New York City. Please enjoy the music and we hope you have a good week.

Week 82

For today’s Musical Monday, we pay tribute to Julián Martínez (Tony Show), who passed away yesterday in the Dominican Republic. He was a master teacher of dance and promotor of Dominican culture who worked with several of our service-learning groups. We thank Tony for his contributions to his community and send our deepest condolences to his family.
Para el Lunes Musical de hoy, rendimos homenaje a Julián Martínez (Tony Show), fallecido ayer en República Dominicana. Fue un maestro de danza y promotor de la cultura dominicana que trabajó con varios de nuestros grupos de aprendizaje-servicio. Agradecemos a Tony por sus contribuciones a su comunidad y enviamos nuestro condolencias a su familia.

Week 81

Many people have heard of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. Although, most probably have not heard of its founder, Rafael Ithier Nadal. He was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, into a musical family; first learning the guitar and then mastering the piano. By 1962, Ithier founded El Gran Combo with some of the remaining members from the orchestra, “Cortijo y su Combo”. Over 50 years and countless hit records later and the group is still performing. Incredibly, Ithier is the only remaining member from the band’s original lineup, albeit select performances. In 2016, Ithier celebrated his 90th birthday and was interviewed by a news outlet where he attributed the success El Gran Combo to their great discipline.

Week 80

El Roockie is a Panamanian reggae artist best known for rhythmic deliveries of profound lyrics, earning him the nickname King of Lyrics and Maquina de Lirica. Since his entry into the music scene in 1996, El Roockie has gained international popularity with his lyrical portrayal of injustice, inequality, and relatable love songs. To listen to the El Roockie and similar artists, check out our playlist Spanish Fly: A collection of Latinx/Urban from Spain, Panama, and the Caribbean.

Week 79

Richard Steven Valenzuela was born in 1941 in Los Angeles California. By 1958, he would go on to adapt a Mexican folk song called “La Bamba’ into a hit rock and roll song and inspire generations of future musicians. Better known by the name the Ritchie Valens, he is remembered today as a pioneering musician of the Spanish speaking rock and roll movement. Tragically, his career and life were cut short on February 3, 1959, on what has become known as “The Day the Music Died”. Valens, along with fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, were all killed when their plane crashed in Iowa. Despite the devastating loss, Valens remains immortalized in his songs, through those he inspired to play music, and through those who continue to listen.

Week 78

It is no accident repetition is an integral part of the music. Since the beginning of rhythm, musicians have used basic psychology to turn listeners into fans. Following the principles of the “exposure effect”, the use of repetition in music allows listeners to be active participants by singing along with a recurring phrase or following the beat. Rather than passively listening, this phenomenon of pattern recognition engages us and is one reason music can so profoundly affect emotional states. For deeper dive into why we love repetition in music, check out the video below.

Week 77

Before Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and The Beatles, there was a woman named Sister Rosetta Tharpe who helped found, shape, and inspire the genre of rock ‘n’ roll as we know it today. In October of 1938 at age 23, Tharpe recorded for the first time with Decca Records, proving her an overnight sensation and one of the first commercially successful gospel recording artists. Later referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll, Tharpe pioneered the use of heavy distortion on an electric guitar and profoundly influenced the growth of British blues in the 1960s. In December of 2017, Sister Rosetta Tharpa was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Week 76

“Here’s a seemingly simple question: Can musicians in quarantine play music together over an Internet connection? We’ve migrated birthday parties, happy hours and church services to video calls these days, so couldn’t we do the same with band practice? Across ubiquitous video conferencing tools like Zoom, FaceTime and Skype, it takes time for audio data to travel from person to person. That small delay, called latency, is mostly tolerable in conversation — save for a few overlapping stutters — but when it comes to playing music online with any kind of rhythmic integrity, latency quickly becomes a total dealbreaker.”

Week 75

Today we bring you a collaboration from the Comunidad Connect community. This performance of ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley is brought to you by past CC volunteers to the Dominican Republic LaBrittany Koger and Artis Trice, CC staff, and our good friend Luis Gutierrez in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Thank you everyone for being a part of this project – it will certainly not be the last! Let us know if you or someone you know would like to join us for our next production. We are inviting all musicians, singers, and audio engineers to get involved – the more the merrier!

Week 74

The Dimensión Latina was founded in 1972 in Caracas, Venezuela by six young musicians: Jose “Joseíto” Rodríguez (musical director and timbales player), pianist Enrique “Culebra” Iriarte, trombonists César “Albóndiga” Monges and José Antonio “Rojitas” Rojas, congas player Elio Pacheco and a vocalist that would soon become one of the most popular and influential singers and musicians in the history of Latin music in the American continent: the singer and bass player Oscar D’León. Together the group would take the world by storm, earning great success in Latin America, Europe and the United States. It is estimated that Dimensión Latina sold about 30 million records, with more than 3000 live presentations during its long and productive history. With an incredible discography of hit songs, its no surprise we keep coming back to listen again and again. See below for one of our favorites.

Week 73

On this day in 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at a gig where Lennon’s band, The Quarrymen, were performing. Eager to impress, Paul played two songs for John, as well as show him how to tune his guitar, something Jon had been paying someone else to do for him. Whether destiny or happenstance, it is stories like these that remind us to embrace each day and be bold, for our connection with others can lead to unimaginable destinations. We hope you have a good and productive week!

Week 72

In addition to featuring well-known and rising artists, NPR’s Tiny Desk holds a contest each year where musicians from across the U.S can submit original songs for a chance to perform live on the platform in Washington D.C. Given the unique circumstances of 2020, the Tiny Desk team created a compilation video to show off the incredible talent, diversity, and creativity in this year’s pool of entrants. Please enjoy the video below and look out for the winner to be announced on July 2nd.

Here’s the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest by the numbers:

-50 states were represented in this year’s entries — plus Washington, D.C, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
-421 artists entered this year who have entered the Contest at least three times before.
-379 artists filmed their entries in the great outdoors.
-166 artists included animal friends in their entries.
-29% of entries came in on the very last day.
-Over 400 entries were filmed during stay-at-home orders with band members in different locations.
-13 songs included a reference to social-distancing distance in their title
-422 entries featured houseplants.
-2 of this year’s entries featured theremins.

Week 71

Grupo Niche was founded in Cali Colombia in 1978 under the direction of bandleader, Jairo Varela, who remained in the group until his death in 2012. Arguably one of the most popular groups in the history of Colombia, Grupo Niche is known for making incredible salsa music with magnificent rhythms and harmonies. In an article written by Latino Life, C. Mackenize writes, “Grupo Niche is to Colombia as Motown is to the US by probably being the first commercially successful Colombian band to be proudly black. Even the name Niche means ‘of African Origin’ and the groups’ pride in Cali and in black culture bursts through their famous anthems and lyrics.” With over 25 albums and counting, we highly recommend this group for guaranteed dancing and enjoyment. Have a listen to their legendary song, Cali Pachanguero, and we hope you have a good day.

Week 70

Today’s music comes in the form of a curated playlist by Comunidad Connect board member, Dr. Roberto A Vargas. Featuring artists like James Brown, Donny Hathaway, Gil Scott-Heron, and many more, this a setlist you do not want to miss! Thanks for listening and we hope you have a good Monday.

Week 69: The Birth of American Music

The “1619 Project” audio series is an initiative from the New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. For Centuries, black music has been an expression of artistic freedom. In this episode, Wesley Morris examines the history of American Music and the legacy of African influence on artistic expression in the United States.

Week 68:

Over the past few months, music has been an essential source of expression and distraction for many people across the world. Today we lift up Beto Deejay and his quarantine salsa sessions from his home in Bogota, Colombia for helping to light the way. With 26 videos and counting, we are consistently impressed with his deep discography and excellent grooves. Thank you, Beto for the music!

Week 67:

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1931, Ismael Rivera grew up expressing himself through song and rhythm with his best friend Rafael Cortijo. Together, they would reach international stardom and Rivera would become known as the “El Sonero Mayor” (The Greatest Sonero) because of his “extraordinary talent for improvisation and impressive command of the clave”. With an impressive discography full of amazing music and thoughtful lyrics, Ismael Rivera remains one of all-time greats of Latin music.

Week 66:

Orquesta de la Luz (Orchestra of the Light) is a Japanese salsa band formed in 1984, led by vocalist, Nora. Although they spoke no Spanish, the founding members fell in love with the sound of salsa and decided to start a group. They began by replicating the different layers of instruments from some of their favorite records and began creating their own music. After sending a sample tape to the booking agent, Ritchie Bonilla, they traveled to New York City where their popularity quickly rose. More than 30 years later, La Orquesta de la Luz continues to play to a worldwide fanbase. In a song from their 2019 album, Nora sums up the group’s success quite nicely saying “salsa no tiene fronteras ni paredes” (salsa doesn’t have borders or walls).
To learn the band’s full story, check out the video to the right.

Week 65:

When the CC team builds homes in Nicaragua, you are liable to find music being played. As we continue to Build Community in 2020, we asked CEO, Jon Thompson, to share some of his favorite tunes to work to. Enjoy!

Week 64:

Today we are honored to reunite with an old musical friend. James Sedgwick is a Canadian born singer and multi-instrumentalist whose path crossed with Jon Thompson in the early 2000s as he was helping to lay a foundation for the live music scene in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. Over the years, James and his wife Monica opened the iconic Coquito’s bar and restaurant in SJdS and cultivated a vibrant community of musicians throughout the country. James has traveled and performed across the world, playing a variety of musical genres such as Blues, Jazz, Reggae, Latin, Country and Electronic music.

In this clip, James performs ‘Low budget love’ and Live your life’ from his new album entitled “Sedgwick and Shingles”. The full album is on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and anywhere else good music is found. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Connection Podcast. In this episode, Jon and James remember Coquito’s bar, discuss live music in Nicaragua, and how the coronavirus is affecting the musicians and their music.

Amazon Music:
Full Interview:

James Sedgwick Music

Week 63:

Frankie Ruiz is regarded as “one of the best salseros ever”, whose music is enjoyed by Spanish and non-Spanish speakers alike. He was born in New Jersey in 1958 and quickly developed a passion for performing. After moving to Puerto Rico in his early teens, he became the lead singer of a local salsa band called La Solución. They recorded the hit single, “La Rueda” (“The Wheel”), and the group’s popularity soared. Frankie Ruiz is an artist we’ve been listening to a lot recently and we’re happy to share his music with you this week. See the video here for an excellent live performance of ‘La Rueda’.

Week 62:

5 salsa music documentaries available on Youtube that you can watch to cheer up your days in quarantine.

– Our Latin Thing, 1972
– I’m from the Son to Salsa, 1996
-Salsa, 1974
-Salsa Opus, 1991
– Cuba Mia, 2002

Thanks to Salserísimo Perú!

Week 61:

In a beautiful example of music bringing people together, the Coro Filarmónico de Bogotá performed the Group Niche song, ‘Cali Pachanguero’, acapella style. Despite physical separation, the group is still able to create inspiring works of art. Thanks for listening and we hope this song brightens your day.

Week 60:

Jimmy Bosch, also known as “El Trombon Criollo”, is a jazz and Salsa music trombonist, composer and bandleader of Puerto Rican descent born in New Jersey. He has played with some of the greatest artists of the genre including, Ruben Blades, Mark Anthony, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, and Ray Baretto, among others. With unique melodies, thoughtful lyrics and impressive trombone solos, the music of Jimmy Bosch will make you want to dance. From all of us at Comunidad Connect, thanks for listening. Stay well.

Week 59:

“Hey Everybody, Jon Thompson here with Comunidad Connect. Welcome to the first-ever live Musical Monday. These are days we have dedicated to bringing you inspiring music and musicians, particularly now in a time of physical isolation, there is no need to be disconnected. We have a large community and I just want to give a shoutout to everybody listening and supporting us. This is a trying time, but also one of resilience and solidarity…”

Link to the full song: “Si echo palante”- Eddie Palmieri

Musical Monday Week 58: Eddie Palmieri

Week 58:

Laguna Pai is a relatively new reggae band from Lima, Peru. Inspired by music from Bob Marley and the Wailers, Pink Floyd, Manau Chao, and traditional Peruvian music, the band has a unique and satisfying sound. In addition, the lyrics often relate to subjects of reflection, conscience, spirituality, conservation and a fine critique of the political establishment. Stay safe and we hope you have a good start to the week.

Week 57:

João Gilberto, often called the “father of bossa nova”, was a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and musical pioneer. The phrase bossa nova means literally “new trend” or “new wave” whose rhythm resembles a fusion of samba and jazz. In 1964, he famously collaborated with North American saxophone player Stan Getz. Their album was very successful and won international praise, including a Grammy for Album of the year.

We hope you have a great start to the week!

Week 56:

 Roberto Roena is a legendary percussionist and orchestra leader from Puerto Rica. He was one of the original members of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and later became the leader of his own band, “Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound”. Roena is also known for being a member of the salsa supergroup “Fania All-Stars”. With a lengthy repertoire of great songs, he’s one of our favorite musicians and we hope you like him too.

Week 55:

Lupe Victoria Yolí Raymond, mejor conocida como La Lupe, fue una de los mejores intérpretes musicales en español, conocida por su estilo enérgico y su voz icónica. Tras el lanzamiento de su primer álbum en 1961, La Lupe se mudó de La Habana a Nueva York, lo que marcó el comienzo de una carrera prolífica y exitosa en los años sesenta y setenta. Lamentablemente, falleció de un ataque al corazón a la edad de 55 años. Apodada la “Queen of Latin Soul”, el legado de La Lupe continúa.

Week 54:

On his initial road trip through Central America in the mid 90s, our own Jon Thompson and his friends carried with them only a few cassette tapes. One of the tapes was the Gyspy Kings, a pop group that achieved widespread popularity by delivering traditional flamenco music to worldwide audiences. Although the band members were born in France, their parents were mostly gitanos, Spanish gypsies who fled Catalonia during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. With iconic vocals and unique rhythms, their music has been described as a place where “Spanish flamenco and gypsy rhapsody meet salsa funk”.

Week 53:

We started Musical Mondays one year ago to bring our community closer together. Transcending language and borders, music works to connect us all. We have heard from artists across the Americas and throughout the decades, posted submissions from past volunteers, and even highlighted some of our talented musical friends. Thank you for listening, for caring, and for being a part of our community. Cheers to another year of music on Mondays. Linked below is our Spotify playlist.

Week 52:

Pepe Sánchez, (1856–1918), was a Cuban musician, singer and composer, known for creating the Cuban bolero, a genre that gained widespread popularity around Latin America throughout the 20th century and continues to thrive today. Although he had no formal training, Pepe composed many numbers but never wrote them down. As a result, most of these pieces of music are now lost forever. However, about two dozen or so have survived thanks to friends and followers who inscribed them. His first bolero, Tristezas, is still remembered today.

Week 51:

“Eddie Palmieri is that once-in-a-lifetime musician, bandleader, composer, and arranger. An icon for both modern and Latin jazz, he continues to break tradition and innovate within many musical styles, including salsa, fusion, Latin funk and more. Recorded in 1962, Perfecta was the first of nearly 50 albums Palmieri has released. The Sun Of Latin Music, a groundbreaking album released in 1975, won him the first-ever Grammy for Best Latin Recording. He later went on to win nine more Grammys, along with a host of other prestigious honors.” Here he is performing on NPR’s Tiny Desk. We hope you have a productive start to the week!

Week 50:

Toots and the Maytals are a Jamaican band formed in the early 1960s. Led by frontman, Toots Hibbert, the group was a key influence in popularizing reggae music. In fact, their 1968 single, “Do the Reggay”, was the first song to use the word “reggae”, naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience.” After decades of success, the band continues to perform today, spreading great music and good vibes to all.

Week 49:

“Master” is the word to describe this multifaceted artist, whose talent as a musician, singer, composer, director, and produced allowed him to forge the careers of many young artists who entered the world of salsa. At an early age, Johnny Pacheco and his family moved from the Dominican Republic to New York, where he attended Julliard and cultivated his talent for violin, saxophone, and clarinet. Pacheco’s career reached its peak in 1963 when he joined forces with Jerry Masucci to create Fania Records, a record label that would set the standard in Latin music and gain unforeseeable celebrity at the international level.” Please enjoy his tune “Guaguanco Pa’l Que Sabe’ and we hope you have a great day.

Week 47:

Hoy terminamos el año del musica con Polo Montañez, un cantante / compositor cubano y su canción ‘Amanece El Nuevo Año “. A pesar de no tener capacitación profesional ni conocimiento musical, Montañez escribió más de 70 canciones y ganó mucha popularidad en la escena musical latinoamericana. Se hizo conocido como el Guajiro Natural (Natural Countryman) por su humilde personalidad y canciones sobre la vida en la granja en Cuba. ¡Esperamos que tengas un gran día y saludos a otro año de música que nos acerque!

Week 47:

“You may be tired of hearing it, but can you help but sing it? This simple bilingual tune written by José Feliciano in 1970 is still the go-to Latin Christmas song.” Currently No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Digital Songs chart, “Feliz Navidad” has been teaching Spanish and connecting communities with music for decades.

Week 46:

In this TEDx talk, Jame’s Mtume takes on us a journey through time to discuss our common ground in music; a cross-pollination of culture, politics, and art.

Week 45:

“Collective Efforts emerged onto the Atlanta underground hip-hop scene in 2002 and quickly garnered critical praise with their debut album, Visions Of Things To Come. Merging the skills of MCs Ben Hameen, J-Mil and Bambu de Asiatic, Collective Efforts’ positive, powerful message sets them apart from the majority of hip-hop. Their sound and lyricism appeal to fans of both “mainstream” pop, rap, and R&B fans as well as aficionados of underground, conscious hip-hop.” Please enjoy the following playlist on youtube for some of their best songs.

Week 44:

Pedro René Peralta Soto, better known as Chichi Peralta, is a Dominican musician who draws from a wide variety of rhythms from around the world. He has combined “Cuban son music with jazz, merengue and pop, African rhythms, hip hop, rap, bachata, guaguancó, Brazilian rhythms, plena, salsa, vallenato, cumbia, symphonic textures, Arabic rhythms and exotic instruments from India and Japan, among others”. For over 20 years, Peralta has utilized the magic of music to transcend borders, celebrate our differences, and bring us closer together.

Week 43:

Santana is an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1966 by Mexican-American guitarist and songwriter Carlos Santana. Fusing Rock ‘n’ Roll with Latin soul, Santana took the world by storm with their legendary performance at Woodstock in 1969. They went on to become one of the greatest selling bands of all time with an estimated 100 million albums sold worldwide. Fun Fact: original lineup timbalero, José “Chepito” Areas, is from Nicaragua.

Week 42:

Tim Maia was a Brazilian singer-songwriter known for his outspoken, and humorous musical style. Before his early death in 1998 at the age of 55, Maia helped shape Brazil’s popular music scene by combining samba, soul, and funk styles. Maia sings both in Portuguese and English and is recognized internationally as one of the biggest icons of Brazilian music. In 2012, a fifteen track remastered compilation titled, ‘The Existential Soul of Tim Maia’, was released to commemorate what would have been Maia’s 70th birthday. See the video on the right to listen to “Let’s Have a Ball Tonight” from the album. We hope you have a great start to your week!

Week 41:

“El Tiny” is what many musicians from Latin America are now calling NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts. Since 2009, there have been almost 800 concerts and approximately 70 that could be classified as “Latin”. Please enjoy as Gina Chavez and Feliz Contreras take us through some of their favorite performances.

Week 40:

The Boogaloo Assassins are a Los Angeles-based 12-piece band with a sound and style inspired by Latin Boogaloo, Soul, Salsa, and Funk records of the 1960s/70s. Performing both originals and covers, the group’s rhythmic music can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. Have a listen to their take on the classic, “Evil Ways” in the link below. For those who want to hear more, check out “No, No, No”. Have a great day!

Week 39:

Today we remember singing and sharing songs in the Dominican Republic with Kennesaw State University Health Promotion and Education group. The community first showed us how to dance traditional merengue and salsa. Then after sharing a meal together, the KSU group performed songs and taught some dance moves of their own.

Week 38:

Today we look back fondly on the wonderful music, dancing, and costumes at Saturday’s celebration. More than just a party, our community came together for a great cause.Thank you everyone who attended and everyone who supported us from afar.

Special thanks to our event volunteers: Dan, Linda, Artis, Greg, Pamela, Kathy, Whitney, Lisa, and Arelis. We could not have done it without you.

Week 37:

Today we recognize DJ Mafiaoso, the hottest Latin, Hip-Hop, Funk DJ in the greater Atlanta area. He has blessed house parties, clubs and music festivals from ATL to Nicaragua for years with his blazing mix of latino-infused dance hits. His next gig is with Comunidad Connect next Saturday. If you have not yet done so, get your ticket now for this Saturday’s 4th Annual Bentoberfest: Together for Health. DJ Mafioso will not disappoint!

Week 36:

Art director, graphic designer, photographer and music promoter, Izzy Sanabria, aka, “Mr. Salsa”, was instrumental in the popularization of ‘Latin Soul’ music during Latino cultural renaissance of New York City in the 1970s. Sanabria helped shape the visual identity of Fania Records, Alegre Records and other important Latin labels as well as reviving Latin New York Magazine, working 10 years as editor.

Week 35:

El primer y único grupo de mariachis de mujeres de la ciudad de Nueva York, el Mariachi Flor de Toloache es una banda impresionante. Los miembros provienen de diferentes orígenes, como Puerto Rico, México, República Dominicana, Cuba y los EE. UU. “Mientras trabajan para preservar las tradiciones centenarias del mariachi, su mezcla de lo tradicional y lo moderno empuja los límites del género y trae música de mariachi a nuevas audiencias “. Mire su actuación en NPR’s Tiny Desk y a continuación y tenga un maravilloso lunes.

Week 34: 

The Birth of American Music.
See link below for the podcast from the New York Times. Pictured is the legendary Motown group the Four Tops in 1966.

Week 33: 

Juan Luis Guerra is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and producer from the Dominican Republic. With over 70 million records sold and 21 Latin Grammys under his belt, Guerra’s music has reached audiences far and wide. Please enjoy his happy tune “Ojalá que llueva café” (I hope it rains coffee) and we hope you have a great Monday.

Week 32: 

Today’s song is by DJ Lapiz, an upcoming hip-hop artist from Cuba. His song “Observando la Ciudad” was recently featured on a short video following our friend Ribe (Mark) strolling through the community of Pancho Mateo in the Dominican Republic. As part of a larger project, we hope to portray the many diverse ‘walks of life’ from our collective community.

Week 31: 

“Peruvian cumbia is a subgenre of cumbia that became popular in the coastal cities of Peru in the 1960s through the fusion several genres, including the original Colombian genre, traditional music from the Andes mountains and surf and psychedelic rock.” Two great examples of compilation albums are “The Roots of Chicha” and” Tropicalísimo”, containing tracks from various groups, capturing the hypnotic sounds of the time. Have a listen to Cariñito by the “Hijos del Sol” and we hope you have a great Labor Day.

Week 30: 

Ibrahim Ferrer (1927- 2005) was a humble Cuban singer with a pure and soft voice. He achieved worldwide fame in 1998 with the success of the Buena Vista Social Club musical project. His second solo album, Buenos Hermanos, won another Grammy in 2004. Enjoy the soothing track “Boliviana” and we hope you have a great day.

Week 29: 

The Lebrón Brothers are a musical family born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, New York. The brothers are Pablo, Jose, Angel, Carlos, and Frankie. With more than a dozen recorded albums spanning 30 years, this remarkable family of artists composed arguably some of the greatest Latin music of all time. Please enjoy “La Temperatura” on your morning commute and have a great day.

Week 28: 

Sixto Rodriguez is a singer-songwriter from in Detroit, Michigan born in 1942 to Mexican immigrant working-class parents. After a short-lived career in the United States, his albums became extremely successful in South Africa, unbeknownst to Rodriguez. Because of scarce information, it was incorrectly rumored there that he had committed suicide.

In the 1990’s, determined fans managed to find and contact Rodriguez, which led to a revival of his musical career. The touching story was told in the 2012 documentary film ‘Searching for Sugar Man’. Songs truly made for the people, Rodriguez’s music continues to resonate with new audiences through his unique melodies and profound lyrics of life and struggle. See the video on the right for his first recorded album “Cold Fact”.

Week 27: 

Today’s artist was submitted by our good friend, Artis Trice from Kennesaw State University.

Julieta Venegas is a talented American-born Mexican singer-songwriter, proficient in three languages and several instruments. Venegas grew up in Tijuana and began studying music at age eight. Throughout her career, she has won five Latin Grammys and one Grammy Award among other accolades. Listen to the track “Eres Para mi” below from her most successful album “Limón y Sal”. Thanks again to Artis for the music!

Week 26: 

Music is a medium that transcends language, borders, and connects us all. After 25 weeks of tunes, we remind you that these days are for sharing and we want to hear from you. Send us your suggestions today! And remember all Music Monday songs can be found on our Spotify playlist:

Week 25: 

Los Hacheros are a 5 member group from Brooklyn, New York specializing in Afro-Caribbean music. Inspired by the great artists that came before them, these “modern-day torchbearers of the Golden Age of Latin music” are a joy to listen to. Please enjoy a video of when the group appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2016.

Week 24: 

Today we recognize a group for their musical contribution to the genre of Salsa. El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico has been together for 57 years and has released more than 40 albums. Considered by some to be “the most popular Salsa group that has ever existed”, the classic hits from El Gran Combo’s continue to impress new listeners. Please enjoy the song “Me Libere” below.

Week 23: 

“Tito Puente was born in New York City in the 1920s to Puerto Rican parents. Helping to spread “mambo fever” in the 50s, Puente became known as the “King of the Timbales” for his extraordinary talent as a percussionist. Over his 50-year career, he recorded more than 100 albums and won five Grammys for his songs, among them the enduring classic “Oye Como Va”. As the musical pioneer Mario Bauzá said, “Nobody has done more for Afro-Cuban music than Tito Puente. Nobody.” If you have only heard the Santana version, be sure to listen to the original in the link to the right!

Week 22: 

“Playing For Change is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music. The idea for this project came from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter who you are or where you come from, we are all united through music.”

Week 21: 

An examination of the longstanding musical relationship and creative exchange between the US and Cuba…While The Politicians Argued, The Musicians Jammed

Week 20: 

Rubén Blades is a Panamanian singer who helped shape the salsa genre in the 20th century. Winning eight Grammy Awards and five Latin Grammy Awards, Blades has proven himself as a prolific songwriter. Moreover, his work as an activist and politician paired with songs of social justice from the Latin American perspective continues to inspire new generations of fans throughout the world. See the video on the right for his song “Patria”.

Week 19: 

Dimensión Costeña is a Nicaraguan group that formed on the Caribbean coast in the city of Bluefields during the 1970s. The band consists of eight members, led by Luis Cassells, who dubs himself as the “Director Artistico” or the Artistic Director. ” Check out the song Tululu in the link on the right.

Week 18: 

Sugerido por nuestro buen amigo y artesano dominicano local, Felix Aramis Ciriaco Green “Bobo”, el Musical Monday de esta semana es Johnny Ventura, el “Elvis de Merengue”. Con más de 100 álbumes grabados y tiempo dedicado a la alcaldía de Santo Domingo, Ventura es una leyenda en la República Dominicana. Vea el video de abajo para su canción ‘Patacón Pisao’ y gracias a Bobo por la música.

Week 17: 

The Skatalites are a ska band from Jamaica who initially played between 1963 and 1965. They reformed in 1983 and have played together ever since. Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to reggae. “Combining elements of Caribbean rhythms with American jazz and R&B, Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the offbeat.” Get into the groove with the song “After the Rain” in the link to the right. Don’t forget Musical Monday and Wednesday Snapshots entries are always welcome. Have a great Monday!

Week 16: 

“When we talk about what made rock & roll as we know it, the most common description is: a mixture of R&B, a predominantly black genre, and country, a predominantly white genre. But the sound is not as black and white as many think. In this episode, Latino USA explores the Latino influences that helped shape rock & roll, and we profile unsung Latino rock artists who had a hand in crafting the sound—from Chicana punk rocker Alice Bag to David Bowie’s right-hand man guitarist Carlos Alomar.”

Week 15: 

Bachata is a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the first half of the 20th century with Indigenous, African and European musical elements.

The first Dominican bachatas were recorded immediately after the death of Trujillo, whose 30-year dictatorship was accompanied by music censorship. The first barchatas are credited to José Manuel Calderón. See the YouTube link to listen the his song “Que será de mi (Condena)” and a little piece of music history released in 1962.

Week 14: 

Rubén González was a Cuban pianist who is said to have help “forge the style of modern Cuban piano playing in the 1940s”. After a successful career in his youth, González came out of retirement to play in the revival ensembles ‘Afro-Cuban All Stars’ and ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, also recording solo material and performing live until 2002. Before his death in 2003, González was quoted saying, “If I can’t take a piano with me to heaven, then I don’t want to go”. We hope you enjoy his album “Introducing” in the youtube link to the right.

Week 13: 

Angélique Kidjo is a Beninese singer-songwriter, actress, and activist who is noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva” and the BBC has included Kidjo in its list of the African continent’s 50 most iconic figures. In her new album, “Celia”, Kidjo pays tribute to celebrated salsa singer Celia Cruz with over ten tracks that investigate the African roots of the Cuban-born woman who became the “Queen” of salsa, a music genre invented in New York by Caribbean immigrants. See the youtube link to listen to the albums essential cut, ‘Quimbara’.

For a full interview with Angélique, check out this podcast:

Week 12: 

Perfect for Earth Day 2019 is the local Nicaraguan group, Tierra Madre (Mother Earth) and their song Pachamama. The band hails from the northern city of Jinotega and their sound is a rich mixture of reggae, cumbia, and ska. Have a listen to their first album in the link below.

“The earth has rhythm, she moves, sings..and we are with her”

Week 11: 

Totó La Momposina (Sonia Bazanta Vides) is a Colombian music icon of African and indigenous descent. She is known for her incredible voice, infectious dancing, and the utilization of various rhythms such as cumbia, bullerengue, guaracha, rumba, and bolero. Have a listen to her famous cover of “Yo me llamo Cumbia” in the link to the right.

Week 10: 

 We bring you a special Music Monday this week following a dance activity that took place in San Juan del Sur this past weekend. Our friend, Taveeta, who originally worked with us as part of a 2014 service learning trip, taught a hip-hop cardio class to a group of dance 22 students. Everyone involved had a great time and we look forward to Taveeta’s next visit!

Week 9: 


Natalia Lafourcade is a Mexican singer/songwriter who has become one of the most successful artists in the pop-rock scene in Latin America. In 2007, she performed on the NPR Music Tiny Desk series and “within the first month of its presence on YouTube, it had been viewed more than 1,350,000 times”. Have a listen.

Week 8: 


Ray Barretto (1929–2006) was a North American conga drummer and bandleader of Puerto Rican ancestry. Throughout his career as a percussionist, he played a wide variety of Latin music styles. A master of the descarga (improvised jam session), Barretto was a long-time member of the Fania All-Stars and beloved by all. The song “El Nuevo Barretto” comes from his 1968 album, Acid, which is often cited as “one of the most enduring ‘boogaloo’ albums”.

Week 7: 


Today’s Musical Monday comes from the Nicaraguan singer, Luis Enrique. He was born in the city of Somoto and comes from a family of musicians. His father, Francisco Luis Mejía Godoy and uncles, Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy and Carlos Mejía Godoy are quite famous in Nicaragua for their folk and revolutionary music. Best known for his style of romantic salsa, Luis Enrique’s discography has included several gold and platinum records, three Grammy Latino, one Grammy American, and four Latin Billboards. In the song “Autobiografía”, Enrique sings about moving to the U.S at a young age, yet never losing his Nicaraguan roots and identify.

Week 6: 


This Musical Monday we bring you a reggae band from the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. ‘Soul Vibrations’, led by Phillip Montalban, hail from Bluefields and gained popularity in the late 1980s. Contrasted with the mix of Spanish and indigenous influences on the Pacific coast, the indigenous and Afro-descendant music of the Caribbean coast portrays the often overlooked linguistic and ethnic diversity of the country.

Week 5: 


Musical Mondays continues with Los Panchos, a group known for their romantic ballads and boleros. The three original members, Chucho Navarro, and Alfredo Gil, both from Mexico, and Hernando Avilés from Puerto Rico, met in New York City in 1944 and went on to achieve international success and recognition as one of the greatest trios of all time. One of there most famous songs “Bésame mucho”, might sound familiar to some of our most recent volunteers.

Week 4: 


For Musical Monday this week we have the “Queen of Salsa” herself, Celia Cruz. Amassing twenty-three gold albums during her career, the cuban singer helped to popularize the genre and inspire salseros for generations to come. Listen to one of her most famous songs, “La Vida Es Un Carnival” by visiting the link to the right.

Week 3: 


Musical Mondays continues with Casa Abierta, or “Open House” by Nicaraguan siblings Katia Cardenal and the late Salvador Cardenal. Their band name, Dúo Guardabarranco, is named after the Nicaraguan national bird. “The duo has been a significant worldwide ambassador for Nicaraguan and Latin-American folk music and has gained a broad international audience with their poetic lyrics about hope, peace, and justice, wrapped in their outstanding harmonies and melodies.”

Week 2: 


We continue the Muscial Monday’s with the glorious album from Buena Vista Social Club. “The group of Cuban musicians directed by Juan de Marcos González and the North American guitarist Ry Cooder obtained important praises and received numerous praises from writers and music publications. In 2003, the album was ranked 260 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 list: The Best Albums of All Time. ” A musical pleasure that everyone can enjoy, we hope that Buena Vista Social Club will accompany you throughout the productive week.

Week 1: 

Transcending language and borders, music brings joy and connects us all. We begin Musical Mondays with “La Banda” by salsa legends Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon. The chorus says, “Llegó la banda tocando salsa para que entren en la bachata or, “The band came playing salsa for those who arrived to the party”. Bachata, commonly known as a Dominican style of music, can also mean a party. “La Banda” captures the upbeat and fresh sound, know as Salsa, which came out of New York City in the early 1970s. Lavoe and Colon produced many hits together and we’ll be sure to see more of them on Musical Mondays.

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