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. It’s a fresh take on our musical history, reaching across time and across musical genres to embrace the exciting hybrid sounds created by Latinos; musical fusions that have deeply enriched popular music in the US for over more than five decades.
The multi-media project is anchored by a four-hour documentary series that will premiere in October 2009, during Hispanic Heritage Month, on PBS stations nationwide. Produced by a world-class production team at WGBH and the BBC, Latin Music USA invites the audience into the vibrant musical conversation between Latinos and non-Latinos that has helped shape the history of popular music in the United States. Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15th-Oct. 15th), a time to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States and to celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture, offers the series a perfect opportunity to further honor these influences.
The Latin Music USA Series
The series features the memorable stories of artists including among others, 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; Ricky Martin and Juanes; Miami rapper Pitbull; Reggaeton performers Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderón; and Lin-Manuel Miranda from the Tony Award winning musical “In the Heights.” The life experiences of these and many other unforgettable artists will 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.
Both English and Spanish
The four-hour (4 X 60) documentary series features a rich mix of music and interviews. It airs in English on PBS with an available Spanish-language track. The series will also air on V-me, the fastest growing Hispanic TV network in history, in October 2009, fully translated and narrated in Spanish.
• 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 and 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 gravitate toward urban fusions - Spanish rap and reggaeton. Rising numbers of Latinos entering the US create new markets for genres like Rock en Español.
WGBH has partnered with V-me, a Spanish language, 24-hour, digital broadcast service presented by affiliate PBS stations. V-me is also carried on basic cable in major markets and nationally via satellite. The Spanish language partnership with V-me gives Latin Music USA an extraordinary opportunity to present the series to an even wider audience.
Print and Online
People en Español, the top-selling Hispanic magazine in the United States, and its website PeopleEnEspanol.com, will include exclusive Latin Music USA editorial features and content across both brands. The exclusive online content on the People en Español website and in the magazine will give both visitors and readers a sneak peek at interviews and concert footage from the series.
In the tradition of PBS.org, the Latin Music USA project is defined by its deep, bi-lingual website with hands-on, interactive features, dynamic clips, and a player that streams the entire series in English and Spanish.
Bridging both online and radio platforms, 12 informational podcasts (6 in English, 6 in Spanish) will be distributed through iTunes, available on the Latin Music USA and partners’ websites, and available as interstitial or promotional material for both English- and Spanish-language radio broadcasters.
In the Community/Cultural Relevance
What makes PBS unique as a broadcaster, and creates an additional platform, is its ability to leverage its 350 local PBS stations to develop culturally relevant programming and events at a local level. The Latin Music USA project will initiate PBS station-anchored community coalitions in five markets, convening local partners to develop regional programming and web content, screening events, panel discussions, concerts and heritage events. The project will also have a presence at a number of key regional music and film festivals, providing an authentic celebration of the roots and future of this uniquely American music.
Latin Music USA is supported by a national publicity and promotional campaign, including web and viral marketing, which will give the project lift and capitalize on its cultural currency. In addition, several other national, culturally-defining moments for the project are in play, such as a press conference at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles, a panel discussion/screening and reception with the Smithsonian’s Latino Center in Washington, DC, and a special exhibition screening at the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah.
*TBD per corporate funding