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David A. Badillo 58 Latino Music and Culture Cuban music was derived from a fusion of Spanish and African elements. AfroCuban musical forms directly influencing salsa musicians include the son, the rumba, and the religious music of the bata used in Santería. The conga, which takes its name from a large African drum, had its origin in these festivities. African ceremonies require the appropriate music, and drums summon the spirits in ceremonials adopting special rhythms interwoven with all aspects of life. In its transplanted form, Cuban practitioners of Santería have helped perpetuate the rhythms. Musical transculturation, a process of cultural blending, occurred in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America where residents influenced each other across ethnic, racial, and class lines. Puerto Rico also has influential and distinctive musical styles. In its broad outlines , Puerto Rican music is fairly similar to that of Cuba, although it has fewer African-derived characteristics, except in modes like the bomba, which uses two or three drums in the West African style; voices open unaccompanied in this form, and then the drums enter dramatically. The plena, also uniquely Puerto Rican, has a stronger Spanish influence. The merengue, the national music of the Dominican Republic, first became popular in Santo Domingo around 1850 and, like many popular styles in the Caribbean, it is dance music. It has had international influence, and it, too, is exemplified by the use of the bongos and conga drums. Large Latino communities in New York—and later in other U.S. cities, including Miami, Los Angeles, and Detroit—provided portals for innovations from Cuba, workplace—in public and professional life. There is no citywide Latino representation in Detroit, largely because of an at-large system for council elections that dilutes Latino voting strength. In the face of numerous challenges, however, Latinos continue to seek self-propelled mechanisms for political empowerment.71 Clearly, a thorough understanding of the various manifestations of Latino diversity offers a window on larger social questions in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas. Socioeconomic and other factors account for significant underrepresentation among Michigan Latinos, while the questions of how, and with whom, to form alliances, and Puerto Rico, and other locations in the Western Hemisphere. The son, based on a combination of guitars and percussion instruments, constituted an important element of what during the 1960s evolved as salsa music in the mainland United States. It began in Oriente Province and by 1916 had made its way to Havana. As a steady influx of large numbers of Cubans and Puerto Ricans came to the United States, by the 1930s there arose a large market for Spanish-Caribbean music. A fusion occurred between Caribbean music and U.S. jazz, rhythm and blues, and to a lesser extent, rock and roll. The forces of migration, international marketing, and cultural change have sparked numerous innovations in what has come to be known as salsa, a composite of the aforementioned influences. Tex-Mex, or conjunto, music, arrived in Michigan with the tejano migration in the early decades of the twentieth century. One of the brightest stars of this early era of Mexican-American music was Lydia Mendoza, whose first recordings were made in 1928 with her family in Texas. The group included the songs of the day, “El Rancho Grande” and other tunes popular on both sides of the border among Mexicans and tejanos. After their early recordings they traveled north to Michigan in the 1930s, when Lydia was still a child, entertaining in cities and towns along the migrant stream. After a two-year stint in Detroit, the family returned to San Antonio and Lydia launched a solo career lasting for many years. The music of Michigan Latinos survives in the cultures of individual families, in festivals, and in special events as well as in bilingual radio broadcasts. L AT I N O S I N M I C H I G A N 59 indeed any broad leadership strategy, point to amorphous and widely diffused leadership. One fundamental barrier preventing further marshaling of resources and energy among Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and others is the lack of a unified cultural identity transcending nationalism. Even in the southwest Detroit Latino melting pot, ethnic consciousness often results in encapsulation rather than solidarity, although a strong working-class background binds all groups. The degree to which this cultural, economic, and political expression matures will largely determine future Latino contributions; in many respects the greatest successes are yet to...


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