A History of Latin Music on PBS

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A History of Latin Music on PBS is a new documentary that explores the rich and varied history of Latin music in the United States.

Latin Music in America

PBS’s long-running concert series “In Performance at the White House” has featured all kinds of music over the years, from country to gospel to Broadway show tunes. But on Tuesday, for the first time, the series will focus on a distinctly Latin flavor: a concert featuring Gloria Estefan, Jose Feliciano, Ricky Martin and Olga Tanon, along with the National Symphony Orchestra.

The influence of Latin music in America

The influence of Latin music on American popular music is often underestimated. Although it is not as visible as the influence of other genres, such as rock or jazz, it is nonetheless significant.Latin music has been a part of American popular music for over a century, and has played an important role in the development of many different genres.

Some of the earliest examples of Latin music in America can be found in the work of composer Jelly Roll Morton. Morton was one of the first American composers to incorporate elements of Latin American music into his work. He did this by incorporating rhythms from Cuban and Brazilian music into his own compositions. These early experiments paved the way for future innovations in Latin music.

In the 1940s and 1950s, a new wave of Latin American musicians came to America and began to make their mark on the country’s musical landscape. These musicians, who came to be known as the “Latin explosion,” included such groundbreaking artists as Tito Puente, Machito, and Desi Arnaz. Their broadcasts were heard by millions of Americans, and they helped to popularize Latin music in the United States.

Today, Latin music is more popular than ever before. Artists like Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Gloria Estefan have achieved massive success with their blend of Latin rhythms and pop sensibilities. The popularity of these artists has helped to increase interest in Latin music among a new generation of listeners.

The popularity of Latin music in America

Latin music has had a significant impact on American popular culture for more than a century. Its influence can be heard in the music of such diverse artists as the Gershwins, Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley, and Santana.

During the early twentieth century, Latinamerican and Caribbean immigrants brought their musical traditions to the United States. These songs and dances—including the rumba, mambo, cha-cha-chá, salsa, and merengue—gained popularity in American nightclubs and dance halls. In the 1940s and 1950s, mambo and cha-cha-chá became mainstream American dances, while Latin jazz—a fusion of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms—gained popularity among American musicians.

In the 1960s and 1970s, salsa emerged as a distinct genre of Latin music, influenced by Cuban son and New York City mambo. Salsa soon became one of the most popular forms of Latin dance in America. In the late twentieth century, Latin music continued to evolve, incorporating such diverse influences as rock, hip hop, and reggae.

Today, Latin music is more popular than ever in America. It can be heard on the radio, in clubs and restaurants, at wedding receptions and other social gatherings, and in movies and television shows.

Latin Music on PBS

PBS has a long history of broadcasting Latin music. Latin music first appeared on PBS in the early 1970s with the show “Salsa.” “Salsa” featured music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Latin American countries. PBS has also aired other shows featuring Latin music, such as “Los Lobos Locos,” “Latin Pulse,” and “Rhythm & Roots.”

The history of Latin music on PBS

Since the 1970s, PBS has been a leader in broadcasting programs that showcase Latin music and culture. These programs have ranged from music documentaries to concert specials to educational series.

One of the first PBS programs to feature Latin music was “The Sound of Latin America,” a four-part documentary series that aired in 1971. The series explored the various musical styles that had arisen in Latin America, including salsa, merengue, and Brazilian bossa nova.

In the 1980s, PBS aired several concert specials featuring Latin music stars such as Celia Cruz and Tito Puente. These specials were often broadcast as part of PBS’s “live from Lincoln Center” series.

In recent years, PBS has continued its commitment to Latin music with programs such as “Latin Pulse,” a weekly radio show that explores the latest news and trends in Latin music; and “Salsa!,” a concert special that featured some of the biggest names in salsa music.

PBS also offers an online course called “Latin Music USA,” which explores the history and influence of Latin music in the United States. The course is taught by Grammy-winning producer Johnjacob Lopez and features interviews with some of the biggest names in Latin music, including Gloria Estefan, Rey Ruiz, and Eddie Palmieri.

The impact of Latin music on PBS

Since the early days of public television, Latin music has had a significant presence on PBS. Over the years, PBS specials and series have showcase the rich variety of Latin music, from traditional folk styles to contemporary pop.

Latin music has long been an important part of American culture, and PBS has played a key role in bringing it to wider audiences. In the 1970s, PBS aired a number of groundbreaking specials on Latin music, including “The American Sound: New York City,” which featured performances by salsa legends such as Celia Cruz and Tito Puente. These programs helped introduce Latin music to new generations of Americans and inspired a renewed interest in the genre.

In the 1980s and 1990s, PBS continued to be a leading purveyor of Latin music with programs like “Latin Music USA,” which explored the history and influence of Latin music in the United States. More recently, PBS has aired specials on specific artists like Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés and Mexican singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel.

PBS’ commitment to Latin music has not only helped preserve and promote the genre, but also introduced it to new audiences who might not otherwise be exposed to it. Thanks to PBS, generations of Americans have been able to enjoy and appreciate the vibrant sounds of Latin music.

The Future of Latin Music on PBS

As the Latin music scene continues to grow in popularity, PBS is working hard to ensure that they provide their viewers with the best possible content. With a wide variety of shows and films already available, they are always looking for ways to improve. In addition to providing high-quality content, they are also working on ways to make sure that their programming is more accessible to a wider audience.

The potential of Latin music on PBS

Although Latin music has been a part of the American musical landscape for many years, it has only recently begun to gain widespread recognition. PBS has long been a champion of Latin music, and with the recent success of shows like “The Latin Animation Project” and “Salsa in the Park”, there is potential for even more exposure.

Latin music is not just about dances and parties; it is also a cultural force that has shaped America. PBS offers a unique perspective on this vibrant music, and by featuring more programming that showcases the richness of Latin music, PBS can play a significant role in promoting understanding and appreciation for this important part of our country’s heritage.

The challenges of Latin music on PBS

The future of Latin music on PBS is uncertain. The network has been a major supporter of the genre, but recent budget cuts have led to the cancellation of several Latin music-themed programs.

This is a significant blow to the Latin music community, which has long relied on PBS for exposure. The cancellation of these programs will make it difficult for new and emerging artists to reach a wider audience. It will also make it harder for fans to discover new music and connect with their favorite artists.

PBS has been a vital part of the Latin music scene for many years, and its loss will be felt by both musicians and fans alike. We can only hope that the network can find a way to continue its support of this important Genre.

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