Catalina Maria Johnson

As one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century, Ella Fitzgerald was admired around the world. She was also one of the most acclaimed, earning a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master award; a National Medal of Art and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, 14 Grammy Awards and honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Howard Universities.

Every summer, Alt.Latino hits the road to attend the three largest Latin music festivals and it gets harder and harder to catch it all.

I struggled to balance the conflicting emotions of enjoying the musical celebration that is the annual SXSW Festival with the pain of the devastating loss of life in Friday's terrorist attack in New Zealand. It was an emotional push and pull that I kept completely to myself.

I say this to anyone who will listen: Latin music these days is exploding with so much creativity and inspiration that it is simply overwhelming. Once you get past the billions of views on YouTube of the reggaeton- inspired pop music, you'll find myriad artists who consider their cultural backgrounds a blank canvas on which they express their sense of self and identity.

Read Catalina Maria Johnson's profile of Jeremy Dutcher, originally published in September 2018, below — and listen at the audio link for the year-end version, adapted for radio.

Puerto Rican singer/songwriter iLe's debut album iLevitable took the indie Latinx musical world by storm in 2017, winning a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative album with its mix of passionate classic boleros and vulnerable, sensual original songs.

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LADAMA's contemporary blends of Latin American musical traditions have been on our radar since the release of their extraordinary

Rios de Norte y Sur (Rivers from North and South), the sophomore album from New York City's Radio Jarocho, pays loving homage to an art form that crossed the border with Mexican-American immigrants and has taken root in towns and cities around the U.S.

If there ever was a perfect soundtrack for a California road-trip, Bang Data's latest album, LOCO, would totally fit the bill. Bay area singer-rapper-songwriter Deuce Eclipse and multi-instrumentalist Juan Manuel Caipo have been making music together since 2008. Their music is deeply atmospheric, so it's not surprising that it can often be heard in commercials and TV shows (they've been featured on Breaking Bad, Lucha Underground, and Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, to mention just a few).

The Jewish-Latin musical connection has been explored by musicians in a variety of fascinating ways — in the '50s by the so-called mamboniks, or in the early 2000s by Hip Hop Hoodios, for example.

Listening to "Estaré Alegre, No Estaré Triste" from Meridian Brothers' upcoming album ¿Dónde estás María? transported me to the sonic equivalent of a Baroque church in the Americas — structures that, despite belying their colonial origins in over-the-top gold ornateness, remain deeply informed by an indigenous and criollo sensibility.

Several years ago, Julián Salazar — at the time guitar player for internationally-renowned band Bomba Estereo — spent some time on the Pacific coast of Columbia, an experience that motivated him to capture the lush, entrancing sonic landscapes of the jungle in his compositions.

Rio Mira is a marimba-centered supergroup founded by artists from Ecuador and Colombia to highlight the music of the El Pacífico region, which extends along the Pacific coasts of the two countries. Taking its name from the river which runs from Ecuador into Colombia, the band focuses in particular on the coastal city of Esmeraldas and its lesser-known contribution to the Afro-Pacific cultural equation.

The members of Los Angeles' Las Cafeteras are experts at navigating the two culturas of immigrant children. In the band's latest video, "If I Was President," they share visions of what our land could be under a president for all people.