Felix Contreras

Austin-based singer/songwriter Gina Chavez has always worn her emotions on her sleeve.

Her deeply felt ruminations on things like identity, love, life, fun and joy have made her music an Alt.Latino favorite for quite a few years now. Chavez's voice is perfectly suited to reflect all of those experiences and to take us to places where we dare to let our emotional guards down.

In the spring of 2014, I was in the audience at Vive Latino, the massive music festival held in Mexico City every year, when Chilean hip-hop artist Ana Tijoux took the stage.

The twin sisters in Ibeyi started their turn behind the Tiny Desk by singing an invocation of a West African Yoruba deity.

They come by their connection to the Afro-Cuban culture by way of their late father, Miguel "Anga" Diaz, an in-demand Cuban percussionist who was part of a vanguard musicians who reinvigorated Cuban music before he died prematurely at age 45 in 2006. The sisters, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz, carry that calling in their DNA, and how they've manifested it into their own art is nothing short of amazing.

Singer-songwriter Vicente García is still relatively under the radar, but performances like the one he gave at the Tiny Desk are starting to turn some heads.

García's music isn't dominated by his native Dominican Republic, but you can hear it in every note. His poetic lyrics are like short stories, sung by a voice both plaintive and evocative, yet always distinct.

There are not enough superlatives to describe Rita Moreno. At an age when most are well past their most productive years, the Puerto Rico-born Moreno just completed the second season of Netflix's One Day At A Time.

The "Despacito" phenomenon continues with this morning's announcement of the 2018 Grammy nominations. However, while it was the original Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee version that won big at the Latin Grammys, it was the Justin Bieber remix that got nods this morning for record of the year, song of the year and best pop duo/group performance.

It was about time for another Alt.Latino road trip.

I moved the Alt.Latino World Headquarters to Las Vegas for a week to cover the events leading up to and including the 18th annual Latin Grammy awards.

Along the way I met up with the very talented young ladies from Flor de Toloache to help me host our show and cover some of the artists attending this week.

We found some of the Alt.Latino artists we have covered through out the year and made some new friends as well.

"Despacito" continued its magical run of success by earning four statuettes tonight at the 18th annual Latin Grammy Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas is ground zero for Latin Grammy action. Most of the artists are staying here, so the elevator lobbies are jammed with people waiting for a glimpse and a selfie with their favorite pop stars.

Natalia LaFourcade is a successful singer-songwriter whose voice and music live on the edge of pop, but maintain a distinct independence.

A few years ago, while Lafourcade was traveling Brazil, she felt a great nostalgia for her native Mexico and its folk music. When she finally returned home, she immediately called some friends for the kind of party that is ubiquitous in Latin America: lots of social drinking, lots of food and lots of guitars and singing. Classic folk songs were on the playlist and a good time was had by all.

The lines seem to be blurring between Latin Alternative and the pop mainstream, judging by the Latin Grammy nominations announced this morning in Los Angeles.

Reflecting that alternative/pop duality were former Calle 13 frontman Residente and Colombian pop/urban vocalist Maluma, who both earned 7 nominations.

If the Tiny Desk offers one lesson, it's that greatness doesn't diminish with less volume. The lesson doubly applies here.

During their performance, Bomba Estereo's Simon Mejia (bass and keyboards) observed that it was the quietist the band has ever played; they rose to the occasion with an intense performance that reflects their earliest days working smaller venues in Colombia.

As we have shown in so many previous episodes of Alt.Latino, the cultural interchange between the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean has been going on practically since there were people in these parts of the world.

The Parisian-Cuban duo Ibeyi is about to break the silence since their debut album in 2015 with a new album, Ash, expected on September 29.

They entice us with a new single/video, Me Voy, that also features the Grammy Award winning rapper from Spain, Mala Rodriguez.

The Mexican Institute of Sound's (MIS) name conjures images of white lab coats and clip boards, well-trained scientists primed to collate information and disseminate it unto the Mexican Republic.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


It's impossible to overstate the importance of both Bébo Valdés and Chico O'Farrill to 20th century Afro-Cuban music and jazz.

Their rich and multi layered influence is evident in iconic compositions, big band arrangements written 60 years ago that still sound cutting edge, and piano playing that echo Cuban classical music and jazz pianist Bill Evans.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF MANUEL GARCIA-OROZCO AND MAYTE MONTERO SONG, "OYE MI MAMA (AFROBEAT) [FEAT. AIFF])

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Power Of Peace is a new release from the great Carlos Santana in collaboration with the iconic soul band The Isley Brothers. The album also features Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos' wife and his band's drummer.

I sometimes wake up with my jaw clenched.

The times are tense and we all feel it. I've been waiting for just the right musical statement to reflect my mood, my hopes and my mal humor. I think I've finally heard it in Living Colour's upcoming album Shade.

Cali Rivera, the Puerto Rico-born founder of the highly regarded JCR Percussion in the Bronx, died this past Sunday from complications of a brain tumor at 79 years old, according to his wife and business partner Lily Rivera.

Carlos Santana turns 70 years old Thursday. It's difficult to wrap my head around that: To me, as to so many other fans, he'll forever be the just-turned-22-year-old grimacing and grooving at Woodstock in August 1969.

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