Radio Bilingüe’s "Raíces" Series Features California Traditional Artists
Radio Bilingüe's Raíces: Art Moments on Radio, is a monthly Spanish-language radio series that focuses on California's traditional artists. Aired as part of Radio Bilingüe's weekly Linea Abierta program, Raíces helps listeners learn more about the diverse traditions of California's cultural communities. Raíces showcases cultural projects and folk art practitioners who use their art forms as a platform to stress commonalities and build bridges between communities of diverse backgrounds.
The Alliance for California Traditional arts serves in an editorial advisory role for Raíces, providing story ideas, contacts for relevant artists or art events, and background information about featured artists.
Raíces is funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Previously aired features can be heard on Radio Bilingüe's Raíces' website:
WOMEN INCORPORATE OTHER CALIFORNIA RHYTHMS INTO TAIKO (June 21, 2013) – The sound of taiko drums has been heard for thousands of years in festivals and temples of Japan. During the last few decades, the popularity of this art has grown in the United States. And here, taiko has become an artform carried out mostly by women. In some cases, it also incorporates other rhythms present in this country. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero visited the women’s group Maze Daiko in Alameda, California, which incorporates Brazilian and Cuban rhythms and sounds into their taiko.
A GUINEAN DANCE TELLS THE STORY (May 17, 2013) – The Madness of the Elephant is the newest production of Duniya Dance & Drum Company, a group based in San Francisco, California. Through dance, music, and theater, the artists tell the story of Guinea, in West Africa, and the country’s first president, Sekou Touré, also known as "The Elephant." Touré was a controversial figure: on one hand he is known as a liberator and a benefactor of the arts, and on the other, as a strong-handed dicatator. Farida Jhabvala Romero has the story.
THE ARTIST WHO WAS INSPIRED BY THE MONARCH FOR THE "MIGRATION IS BEAUTIFUL" CAMPAIGN (May 3, 2013) – In many of the May 1st marches, men, women and children put on wings of the Monarch butterfly, those flying insects that every year migrate thousands of kilometers over borders. The symbol has taken flight, after the most recent creation of artist Favianna Rodríguez. Her design of a butterfly with two human faces in the wings, accompanied by the phrase "Migration is Beautiful", has been reproduced on walls in cities all over the country and on social networks. Silvia Parra visited Favianna in her studio in Oakland, California, to find out more about how this butterfly was born.
MUSICAL GROUP RESURGES 30 YEARS LATER (March 1, 2013) – It’s not every day you hear stories like The Pyramids'. The musical group debuted in the 70’s, traveled to Africa to look for their roots, recorded a few albums with limited copies, and separated. More than 30 years later, their unique mix of jazz with world rhythms has found a new audience, this time worldwide. Now on tour again, the members of The Pyramids are beginning a new stage. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero went to one of their concerts in Oakland, California.
HMONG FAMILIES CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR (January 8, 2013) – The city of Fresno, in California’s Central Valley, has the largest Hmong population in the United States. To celebrate the New Year, entire families living in and outside the U.S. gather in the county fairgrounds. The colorful celebration includes dancing, music, and traditional dishes in the best style of their towns of origin, in the highlands of Southeast Asia. This annual event attracts over 100,000 people, and is here to stay as a new tradition in California. Juan Santiago Ramírez brings us the story.
WITH POETRY AND DRUMS, A WOMEN'S GROUP PROMOTES TOLERANCE (January 7, 2013) – In the art of poetry, the rhythm of words plays a key role. Now, if those verses are strengthened with the rhythm of drums, the rhythmic experience takes on another dimension. That is what is delivered to audiences by Maiko, a group of women who intertwine Latin, African and Brazilian percussion with poetry that seeks to inspire and liberate their audiences, especially women. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero visited the group during a rehearsal at the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild in California, and brings us this story.
INDIGENOUS MIGRANTS SHARE TRADITIONS WITH A NEW GENERATION (December 26, 2012) – In the booming agricultural valley of Coachella, in Southern California, a growing population of indigenous Purépecha people have come to settle. Faithful to the traditions of their home state of Michoacán, Mexico, Purépecha groups organize a pilgrimage every year to a church dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the town of Mecca. Accompanied by regional sones, or songs, and the Danza de los Viejitos, or Dance of the Old Men, the migrants carry on a live tradition, involving their children, who were born and grew up far from their parents motherland. Reporter Rubén Tapia witnessed the celebration this year.
TWO MOHAWK BROTHERS HEAL THE SOUL WITH SONG AND DRUM (December 6, 2012) – Two brothers from the Native American Mohawk tribe remember their history and maintain their culture and language through music. Roger Perkins lives in California and he held a ceremony of thanks with his brother Kenny, who came to visit from their reservation in New York. The Perkins brothers say the songs and the rhythm of the drum cure them: they aliviate pain and give them strength to live after years of repression. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero was at the ceremony.
MYSTICAL ABYSS: MULTIETHNIC THEATER-DANCE (November 23, 2012) – The universality of myths and the arts is evident in a scene in San Francisco California, with a theater-dance work that mixes indigenous traditions of the Native Mexicans and the Japanese Noh theatre in aesthetic symbiosis beauty also gives us suspense and emotions, and is given in a quite natural way. Farida Jhavbala Romero witnessed the magnificent spectacle and gives us this review.
GOSPEL: A BALM FOR THE SOUL (August 31, 2012) – Members of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir swear the music they sing is a salve for the spirit. The singers are of diverse races, ages, and religions, but in gospel songs, they have found family unity. And some have even found love in the choir! Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero attended a presentation of the choir at a church in Oakland, California, and has this story.
YOUNG MURALIST REVAMPS FRESNO WALLS (July 18, 2012) – Muralism is being reborn in California, this time in the agricultural city of Fresno. One of the new muralists is the young Latino painter Mauro Carrera. Carrera’s colorful paintings have been exhibited in museums and community plazas. Currently, his murals are exhibited in the Latino gallery Arte Américas. For the occasion, the young painter made his first brushstrokes on a new mural. Reporter Juan Santiago Ramírez was there when the painter began his project, and he has this story.
JUNETEENTH: REMEMBERING THE FREEING OF THE SLAVES (June 22, 2012) – In the agricultural heartland of California, there is a town that was founded and run by African Americans fleeing discrimination and seeking freedom in the days that followed Reconstruction. Allensworth, a town located in the Central Valley, now counts among its inhabitants a large Latino community. The historic town center has been designated state park. Every year hundreds of people gather here to commemorate June 19, known as "Juneteenth," the day in 1865 slavery was abolished in the state of Texas. Reporter Juan Santiago Ramirez attended the celebration and gives us this report.
PROFESSOR SHARES LADINO MUSIC AND HISTORY (June 19, 2012) – Upon moving to California, a political science professor born in Israel began to learn more about her cultural roots. And now to rediscover more about her own identity, Rivka Amado also rediscovered her love for music. Now, the educator and artist is dedicated to giving presentations that tell the story of her people, the Jews who were expelled from Spain in the 15th century. Rivka Amado combines historical narrative with the songs and popular ballads in Ladino, a language mixing Castilian and Hebrew that survived the Jewish expulsion for over 500 years. Reporter Nancy Lopez visited this singer and educator in her home in Berkeley, California.
LATINO POET LAUREATE SHARES "SOUL CILANTRO" (May 25, 2012) – Professor Juan Felipe Herrera, who recently became the first Latino to be named Poet Laureate of California, returned to the land of his childhood in the Central Valley of California to kick off a tour bringing the art of poetry to communities with the least access to it. In Fresno, Herrera held what he called a "soulful cilantro fest" on the university campus where he was once professor and department chair. Reporter Juan Santiago Ramírez was at the event and has this story.
EVEN HORSES CAN LEARN THE RUMBA! (May 11, 2012) – The dance world also includes dancers with four legs who neigh. That’s right: horses. The tradition of dancing horses came to Mexico with Spanish horses centuries ago, and then came to California. Today, dancing horses are popular at charreadas, festivals, and concerts. They are also shown in parades to commemorate holidays such as Cinco de Mayo. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero spoke with a trainer in Lamont, in California’s Central Valley, who teaches horses how to dance to the rhythm of ranchera music and rumba.
SENIORS LEARN TO TELL STORIES TOGETHER (May 11, 2012) – In Oakland, California, there is a small theater company with big ambitions. Stagebridge is a theater company exclusively for seniors and is the oldest of its kind in the country. The company gives classes on storytelling to seniors of diverse ethnic backgrounds to share with each other and with children in the community. Reporter Nancy López visited one of the classes for storytellers and has this story.
PHOTOGRAPHER CAPTURES HISTORY IN POOR NEIGHBORHOODS (April 3, 2012) – Camilo José Vergara is a photographer and sociologist based in New York. He has dedicated much of his career to capturing images in poor neighborhoods in cities around the country, like Chicago and New York. His photographs of dilapidated buildings in industrial cities like Camden, New Jersey and Detroit, Michigan appear in his books, "American Ruins," and "The New American Ghetto." Through his images, Vergara documents change in the population and urban landscape of the places he visits. The photographer recently visited Fresno, California, as part of a reunion of Latino MacArthur Fellows, or MacArturos. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero accompanied him to explore the city, and she has this story.
YOUNG INDIGENOUS MEXICAN SINGS RAP IN THREE LANGUAGES (April 3, 2012) – In California’s Central Valley, a young Mixtec-speaking musician finds in the modern rhythms of rap a way to maintain alive ancestral traditions of his people. In his songs, the young rap singer talks about his experience and the one of his migrant community in three languages: English, Spanish and his native Mixtec. In Fresno, California, reporter Juan Santiago Ramírez, interviewed the young, trilingual rap singer, as part of “Raices,” a series on folk and grassroots artists.
MASK MAKER MIXES ITALIAN AND PREHISPANIC TECHNIQUES (March 6, 2012) – The art of making masks is a tradition that crosses many different cultures, including Italian culture, many African cultures, and those of diverse indigenous peoples of Mexico. The Mexican artist Carla Almanza De Quant created her own style of masks, combining 17th and 18th century Venecian mask techniques with the intense colors of Mexico and the use of recyclable materials. Correspondent Araceli Martinez visited the workshop of Carla Almanza de Quant in San Jose, California.
PLAY ABOUT THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE INSPIRES ANGELINOS (December 23, 2011) – For the tenth consecutive year, more than 7,000 Angelinos filled the Cathedral of Los Angeles to watch a play based on the story of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The impressive performance is made possible by the enthusiasm of more than 100 actors, dancers, and musicians, who pay tribute to their indigenous roots and culture, and send a message of hope to immigrant families. Correspondent Rubén Tapia reports.
INDIGENOUS TEACHERS PRESERVE CULTURAL TRADITIONS OF TRIBE DIVIDED BY BORDER (November 25, 2011) – The Native American tribe Kumeyaay has lived in the border area of San Diego and Northern Baja California, Mexico, for at least 10 centuries. The territories were divided when the United States appropriated California. Currently on both sides of the border, these Native people live with high levels of marginalization and poverty. Los Angeles correspondent in Rubén Tapia spoke with a married couple who are both cultural teachers from this tribe at a recent Native American event. Proud of their origins, they continue to struggle to preserve their language, roots, and traditional arts.
NATIVE AMERICAN BASKET WEAVERS CULTIVATE INDIGENOUS PRIDE (November 4, 2011) – For Native American Mono basketweavers in California, baskets are a way of life. The shape and size of each basket woven depends on the use it will be given: to cook soup, gather acorns, remove thorns from berries, fish, trap birds, or rock babies. The weaving takes skill, infinite patience, and a wide knowledge of botany. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero accompanied a family of basketweavers in Frseno, California. For these women, weaving baskets is a way to plant pride in Native identity in the younger generations.
NATIVE AMERICANS SEEK TO SAVE LANGUAGE AND CULTURE (September 23, 2011) – The Native American Kawaiisu people have lived in the rural areas of Tehachapi and Paite in the southeastern mountains of California for thousands of years. Left out of the treaties of the 19th century that would have recognized them as a tribe, the community has dwindled to about 200 descendants. Four years ago, the group started a cultural center that seeks to rescue their language and culture, while at the same time supporting other indigenous communities to conserve their traditions. Correspondent Rubén Tapia visited a recent festival organized by the group.
HAITIAN DANCE INSPIRES AFRICAN AMERICANS (September 6, 2011) – The history of how slaves in Haiti fought for their freedom and won the Independence of the island is full of hope and inspiration. That story is alive in the Haitian dance of the group Rara Tou Limen in California. The dancers in the group are mostly African-American, and through Haitian dance, they find a connection to history and an inspiration for their art and lives. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero visited the group during rehearsal in Oakland, California.
INDIGENOUS IMMIGRANTS TEACH OLD SONGS TO YOUTH (August 15, 2011) – After working long hours day after day in the fields of the Salinas Valley on the California coast, a group of elders leave their agricultural tools every Sunday and meet to teach. This dedicated group teaches their children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren the customs of their people, the indigenous Triqui community of Oaxaca. The women teach girls how to weave huipil dresses and bags, while the men play the "grandfathers’ songs" on violin and drum. For these musicians and artisans, the workshops help their identity and values survive in this country. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero visited one of the workshops in Greenfield, California.
ARTISTS SPRUCE UP STREETS WITH COLORFUL MOSAICS (August 5, 2011) – Some gray streets of Oakland, California, known for graffiti and theft, are being filled now with color, thanks to the work of a group of artists and hundreds of volunteers. These cultural activists propose to change the urban landscape, creating mosaic murals on the walls of public spaces, flowerpots, and trashcans. Reporter Irene Florez spoke with some of the artists behind the project.
MARINERA DANCE FEVER (July 29, 2011) – Marinera dance is the national dance of Peru. And it has become so popular that marinera tournaments are televised and viewed all over the country and many countrymen tune in from abroad over the Internet. For Peruvians living in the U.S., Marinera fever has worked as some sort of cultural glue and has motivated a return to their roots. Four-time Marinera champion Néstor Ruíz lives in San Francisco, California, where he has trained new champions. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero followed this marinera master during Peru’s Independence Day festivities.
OAXACAN CALENDA IN CALIFORNIA (June 7, 2011) – In the region of the Valles de Oaxaca, in Mexico’s southern highlands, it is the custom to begin patron saint celebrations of every community with a calenda: a procession of men and women, floats, and enormous giants made of paper mache, accompanied by traditional brass bands. In this way, the entire town is invited to participate in the parade and the festivities. This traditional celebration has come to California’s Central Valley, home to thousands of migrants from Oaxaca. For the second year in a row, the small farm city of Selma was dressed in many colors to bring together crowds of pilgrimers in the traditional calenda, in honor of the Virgin of Fatima. Alma Martínez reports.
CARRIBEAN PHILOSOPHY (June 1, 2011) – Salsa, son cubano, jazz, hip hop, and rap: what do these musicial traditions have in common? That’s what acclaimed percussionist John Santos explores with his Caribbean Philosophy, or Filosofía Caribeña. And just as in the Caribbean itself, this project mixes musical and dance traditions from Africa and America to recall the history and trace a possible future where African Americans and Latinos can struggle together for their common goals. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero was at the world premiere of Filosofía Caribeña in San Francisco.
CHEF CONSERVES CHINESE ART OF EDIBLE SCULPTURES (March 18, 2011) – The art of carving fruits and vegetables to create sculptures has been practiced in Asia for centuries. The artisans that conserve this artform transform carrots, potatoes, or watermelons into complete landscapes with flowers, birds, and animals. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero went to a celebration of the Lunar New Year in Oakland, California, where traditional artists from diverse Asian cultures were showing their work. There, she witnessed the art of Chef Jimmy Zhang, a maestro of edible sculptures.
ABOLISHING THE HERITAGE AWARDS (March 1, 2011) – As part of the spending cuts in Washington, the National Endowment for the Arts is proposing to eliminate the National Heritage Awards, which honor artists who are rarely recognized in the country, traditional and grassroots artists who greatly contribute to the U.S. culture. Former fellows say the proposal would lessen the chances of recognition for artists of color.
CELEBRATING MARIACHI MUSIC (February 28, 2011) – Radio Bilingüe will present the world’s premiere mariachis at its 28th ¡ Viva el Mariachi! Festival Sunday, March 6, in Fresno, California. Headliners will be Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán of Mexico, with over a century of mariachi musical legacy; and Grammy-winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, who will be honored for 50 years on the world stage as mariachi maestros and ambassadors. Musical director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, José “Pepe” Martínez, talks about the tradition of mariachi festivals and mariachi music in the U.S. and Mexico.
SI TE VAS A SAN FRANCISCO (February 25, 2011) – Katia Cardenal visits the United States to launch the single “Si Te Vas a San Francisco,” her version in Spanish of the 1960s song “San Francisco (Flowers in your Hair)” and a tribute to the California city’s Nicaraguan Solidarity Movement of the 70’s and 80’s. Cardenal has made a name for herself in recent years as a solo artist, after singing for years with her brother as Duo Guardabarranco in their native Nicaragua.
STORIES PASS VALUES TO YOUTH (February 18, 2011) – The Black Storytellers of San Diego say their stories are a way to preserve the memory of the African people brought to the United States, and a method to confront the violence that comes from racism, as well as reaffirming human values for new generations. Correspondent Marco Vinicio González was at a recent multicultural fair in San Diego, where the storytellers performed.
¡VIVA EL MARIACHI! FESTIVAL (Feburary 15, 2011) – Legendary Mariachi bands are gathering in California’s Central Valley to headline the longest-running mariachi festival in California. Seasoned mariacheros will lead a weekend of concerts and workshops to teach the younger generation the traditions. Members of the award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, which this year turns 50, and Mariachi Femenil Orgullo Mexicano, the first all female mariachi band in the San Francisco Bay Area, give a taste of what they will bring to Radio Bilingüe’s ¡Viva el Mariachi! Festival on March 6. Also, a tribute to Manuel Esperón, wellknown Mexican composer who recently passed away at the age of 99.
STAR OF GARIFUNA MUSIC (January 28, 2011) – The Honduran musician Aurelio Martínez is known as the cultural ambassador of the Garífunas, a group of people with African and indigenous roots who live along the Atlantic Coast of Central America. Through the Garifuna music of parranda and punta, mixing ballad and guitar with drums and traditional rhythms, Martínez brings this culture to the world. Martínez recently visited the city of San Francisco, California. Reporter Diana Montaño was at the concert and reports that Aurelio’s music has a special significance for Garifuna migrants in California.
LATINO TAP DANCING (December 31, 2011) – Tap dancing is an art that is almost forgotten, but was quite popular during the first part of the last century. Practiced mostly by African-American and Anglo dancers, the dance is beginning to attract the attention of young Latinos from the poor barrios of Los Angeles. A talented young dancer of Hungarian-Mexican origins is one of the pioneers of this artistic expression. Los Angeles correspondent Rubén Tapia has the story.
BHANGRA AND SON (December 27, 2011) – This is a segment of the Radio Bilingüe program “Línea Abierta” about the premiere of “Half and Halves,” a Mexican and Indian dance presentation that explores the social, cultural and emotional history of the blending of Punjabi and Mexican families in California in the early 20th century. A collaboration between distinguished Indian and Mexican choreographers in San Francisco, the dance work features Mexican folkloric dance combined with Bhangra, a harvest celebration dance from Punjab. The choreographers tell the story of how Punjabi farm workers, who were not allowed to bring their wives nor marry white women, met Mexican women and created a new, Indo-Mexican community. This edition starts the third season of the series Raíces.
HALF AND HALVES (December 24, 2011) – Renowned choreographers in San Francisco premiered a dance work that blends the rhythms of the Indian Bhangra and the Mexican Son. The work, entitled “Half and Halves,” narrates how migrants coming from the Indian area of Punjab and the Mexican province were able to understand each other. Immigration restrictions in California in the early 20th century prohibited Indian men from bringing their wives or marrying white women. Punjabi farm workers met Mexican women and from that encounter a new community was born. Diana Montaño covered the dance presentation in San Francisco and has the story.
CUBANS BRING SANTERÍA TO FAROFF LANDS (April 9, 2010) – With roots in Africa and Latin America, the santería religion has always represented a mix of cultures. Now, with the migration of many Latin American immigrants to the United States, the drums and songs of the celebrations known as bembés are being heard in California. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero went to a bembé en Oakland, California, where immigrants from diverse Latin American countries got together to celebrate the orisha Yemaya.
FOUR WINDS (February 19, 2010) – The dances of the diverse indigenous peoples of the United States have been in danger of being lost forever. These peoples have suffered cultural repression and forced separation of families. Some dancers offer resistance and recover this ancient art through practice and teaching. Reporter Farida Jhabvala Romero was at a recent presentation of a dance teacher in California.
NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTE KEEPS PLAYING IN CALIFORNIA (January 22, 2010) – Artists of the Native American Diaspora, living in California’s Central Valley, try hard to pass on their cultural traditions to new generations. Lance Canales is of Yaqui, Cora, and Mayan descent. He travels around the area, interpreting music on a traditional flute. We spoke with him at a recent Pow Wow.
CIMARRONES, MASTERS OF JOROPO LLANERO (December 4, 2009) – The musicians of the Colombian group Cimarrón are maestros of "joropo llanero," a traditional rhythm from the plains of Colombia and Venezuela. Cimarrón, in addition to keeping the tradition alive, is seeking to be in tune with new musical demands. Correspondent Marco Vinicio González interviewed the director of the group, Carlos Rojas, during a presentation at the Smithsonian Institute Folklife Festival.
STORYTELLERS KEEP INDIGENOUS TRADITION ALIVE (November 27, 2009) – Storytellers have been a vital part of conserving the identity of Native Americans in the United States. These narrators memorize hundreds of verses that they use to teach children the history and values of their people. Farida Jhabvala Romero spoke with two storytellers during a presentation in Sacramento.
CARTONERA PUBLISHING (November 13, 2009) – The economic crisis in Argentina has given rise to an innovative form of publishing books. The cartonera publishers make their books out of cardboard and paper bought directly from scavengers of the garbage dumps. The idea is to dignify the work of marginal workers and at the same time help writers to publish. Our reporter Raúl Silva has followed this successful social enterprise closely.
"MATA ORTIZ" POTTERS RECOVER ANCIENT INDIGENOUS TRADITION (November 6, 2009) – Mata Ortiz is a town located near the ruins of the Casas Grandes indigenous civilization, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. These indigenous people were famed in ancient times for their pottery. In recent years, this art is coming back to life, thanks to a movement promoted by modern artisans from the region who use the same clay, the same instruments and the same designs as the original indigenous potters. Correspondent Farida Jhabvala Romero talked with a renowned pottery master from Mata Ortiz during a recent presentation of his ceramics in Berkeley.
INDIGENOUS DRINK FROM OAXACA CELEBRATED IN LOS ANGELES (October 23, 2009) – The enthusiasm of Oaxacan businessmen and civil and cultural associations has made the rich food and traditions of the southern lands of Mexico gain territory in Los Angeles. Recently, hundreds of residents of Los Angeles came together downtown to toast with Tejate and celebrate the second festival of this ancient indigenous Mexican drink. Tejate is considered a drink of the gods, and it is made with cacao and other grains. It helps campesinos to endure difficult farm labor. Correspondent Rubén Tapia was at the popular festival and prepared this report.
SON JAROCHO SPREADS IN CALIFORNIA (October 9, 2009) – A family of Mexican-American musicians living on California’s Central Coast has been working for three decades documenting and interpreting son jarocho, traditional music from the state of Veracruz in Mexico. The founder of the group, Fermín Herrera, says son jarocho is more vibrant than ever and some of the best musicians live on this side of the border. Herrera participated in one of the recent celebrations of Latino Heritage Month in Los Angeles.
PERUVIAN DANCE AND MUSIC RESCUED IN LOS ANGELES (September 25, 2009) – In Los Angeles, a group of Latin American musicians has made it their mission to show that there is much more to the music and dance of Peru than Andean traditions. Peru also offers the world dances from black communities on the coast and little-known indigenous communities in the Amazon. During a recent presentation as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the founder and director of the group spoke about their work.
BOMBA AND PLENA ALIVE AND KICKING IN PUERTO RICO (August 28, 2009) – The musical rhythms of bomba and plena, the most well-known forms of Puerto Rican traditional music, come alive at special events that attempt to make them more popular. One group of Puerto Rican artists, called "Viento de Agua," or "Wind of the Water," stands out for its dedication to singing and dancing Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms. Viento de Agua made the audience move this summer in Washington during the International Folklore Festival organized by the Smithsonian Institute. Marco Vinicio Gonzαlez spoke with the members of the group and brings us this story.
"SON DE MADERA" PRESERVES A MEXICAN TRADITION (August 14, 2009) – "Son de Madera" is a musical group heading a movement that seeks to promote Jarana music and Son Jarocho, traditions from Mexico’s Gulf Coast. The group cultivates the music and dance of a community party known as "Fandango". This summer, Son de Madera performed at the Las Americas Festival of the Smithsonian Institute at the nation’s capital. There, Marco Vinicio González spoke with the leaders of the Jarana group and prepare this feature.
INDIGENOUS TEACHER PASSES ON HERBAL KNOWLEDGE (August 11, 2009) – Jane Dumas, an indigenous elder of San Diego, has taken on the task of sharing what she knows about herbs and natural medicine. This wisdom was passed on to her by her ancestors who spoke Kumeyaay, a language which is in danger of becoming extinct. In order to make sure that the same thing that happened to her language will not happen to the traditional knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants, Jane has begun to teach her chauffeur and, with his help, a group of students. Ana Lilia Barraza reports from San Diego, California.
HACIENDA PERALTA (July 31, 2009) – Amidst a concrete jungle that surrounds what is left of the historic Hacienda Peralta, an old Mexican ranch localized in the city of Oakland, California, a group of elder women from the Asian ethnic group known as Mien, teaches Afro-American children how to cultivate the earth. These elder women learn something about the history of their adoptive California, while they plant vegetables with the city children, hoping that their ancestral culture and the seeds they brought from Laos develop roots in their new land. Correspondent Farida Jhabvala Romero reports in this feature.
MAGULANDIA (July 17, 2009) – His full name is Gilberto Sanchez Ledezma Flores Guzman, but most people called him Magu, one of the founders of the Chicano cultural movement. Magu integrates in his work the indigenous Prehispanic culture with the popular culture of the United States. The original Low Rider cars designed by this renowned painter and sculptor are part of a fantasy world called “Magulandia.” Los Angeles correspondent Ruben Tapia produced this profile of the artist, where he confesses to be searching still for his masterpiece.
AZTEC VESTUARIO (July 3, 2009) – The Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego, California has been a source of Chicano art for four decades. Recently, it opened a space for a group of designers who make Aztec Dance vestuarios. It was there where reporter Ana Lilia Barraza met a dancer and master seamstress who with great dedication teaches her trade to new generations.
MEXICAN ARTISAN INVENTS PINATAS 3D (June 19, 2009) – Artisan Laurencio Aburto made piñatas in his native Morelos, Mexico. In the beginning, many years ago, he used to make the piñatas of clay, in star-shapes and covered with paper of many colors. When he migrated to the United States, Aburto noticed that piñatas were very popular and that brought him back to his trade, but this time he modernized his craft to please his clients and invented a style to be soon patented. Correspondent Gabriel Martinez reports.
BOMBERAS DE LA BAHIA - THE BAY’S BOMBERAS (June 5, 2009) – La “Bomba” is a Puerto Rican musical genre created by African slaves and their descendents while working at colonial plantations in the island. Traditionally, the groups’ members are mostly men, but in San Francisco a group of Latin American women have formed “Las Bomberas de la Bahía” or The Bay’s Bomberas, a pioneering group in this musical genre formed solely by women, who challenging the tradition give a breath of fresh air to bomba music. Correspondent Farida Jhavala-Romero interviewed the group.
SAN FERNANDO, SEEDBED OF MARIACHIS (May 22, 2009) – San Fernando Valley, in Los Angeles metropolitan area, has a long mariachi tradition. In recent years, the award-winning maestro Nati Cano and his Mariachi Los Camperos established a musical training workshop for local youth talent. The workshop gained the help of the city government and of cultural institutions, and today is nationally recognized as a seedbed of Mariachis. Los Angeles correspondent Ruben Tapia visited San Fernando and shares the story.
DANZA AZTECA: THE TRADITION CONTINUES (April 24, 2009) – Aztec Dance or Concheros Dance, a spiritual tradition of Central Mexico, was adopted by Chicano youth in the 1960s as a way to reconnect with their indigenous roots. The ritual dances continue to be used as a way to teach traditions not learned within the U.S. education system and to build community. A youth group of Mixteco migrants in the agricultural locality of Santa Maria, in California’s Central Coast, practice Aztec dance under the guidance of master Pedro Velásquez. files this report. Correspondent Sara Shakir reports.
TWO GARIFUNA GENERATIONS (April 17, 2009) – Garifuna immigrants in California continue to struggle to keep their peculiar music style and their culture alive in their new homeland, the same way they have done it in their native Central America for centuries. The Garifuna population was the result of a mixture of Caribbean indigenous groups and African slaves that set foot on the coast and islands of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Correspondent Ruben Tapia talked to artists that represent two generations of Garifunas in Los Angeles.
MUSIC OF RESISTANCE (April 3, 2009) – African slaves used a sophisticated system of percussion and song to communicate behind the backs of their captors. Over time the music transformed into diverse musical rhythms. One musician, who lives in San Diego, California, created "Slapjazz" as an homage to his ancestors, and he now teaches new generations of African-American percussionists. Reporter Ana Lilia Barraza interviewed him.
TIAB SKIRTS (March 20, 2009) – The Central Valley of California is home to one of the largest Hmong populations, from the mountains of Laos, for more than twenty years. During this time, the elders of the community have tried to keep their traditions alive, one of which is Tiab skirts. For the elders, the traditional skirt is something more than a fashion statement, it is one of the seals that accompany bodies after death so that the souls of the relatives will be able to recognize them in the spiritual world. A young Hmong woman is making an effort to learn how to sew this elaborate skirt, because she wants to make sure that the tradition is not lost. Sara Shakir visited the apprentice and her teacher in Fresno.
THE ROYAL CAMBODIAN BALLET REFUSES TO DISAPPEAR (January 9, 2009) – During the era of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, a fifth of the population of this country in Southwest Asia fell victim to the totalitarian regime. Many artists, and most professional Cambodian dancers were killed during the four years from 1975 to 1979, as part of the "anti-intellectual" movement of dictator Pol Pot. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, who was only 8 years old when the Khmer Rouge took power, was one of the few artists who managed to survive. Now Sophiline is not only a world-renowned traditional dancer, but she also is a great promoter of Cambodian dance and is determined to preserve this tradition that has survived many attempts of extermination. Ana Lilia Barraza spoke with the heirs of Sophiline's art.
KOREAN DANCE ACADEMY HELPS PRESERVE TRADITION (January 2, 2009) – For two decades, the Korean Dance Academy in Los Angeles has been instrumental in preserving a more-than-100-year-old tradition. By teaching traditional dance to the children and grandchildren of Korean immigrants, the Academy has helped keep them linked to their culture of origin. As Ana Lilia Barraza reports, the Academy also shares its traditions with other ethnic groups in the city.