Latinx Heritage Month: Testimonials and Recommendations from Latinx Artists, Writers, Industry Professionals, and More

El Sonido
Albina Cabrera

Read a version of this article in Spanish here

Before we begin, you should know that we’re going to talk about music and something else. We will not do it on our own. During this special programming we're calling Latinx Heritage Month, we will collaborate with other voices in our music community. It is important to keep in mind that a culture or identity cannot be reduced to a simple definition or a month in a calendar. It cannot be done for many reasons, some of which are obvious, but we will not dwell on this. We will try to share a taste of how these debates on Latin American identity in the continent emerge ancestrally and how this is palpable in the new generation of artists, managers and communicators in Latin America. Mi cosa favorita.

Over the course of a month, KEXP is celebrating not so much the “heritage”, nor the fundamentals of “Hispanic”, “Latino” or “Latinx”; but rather the celebration of a month of exchange, of sharing/giving airtime with and to the voices that are building the new alternative music scene in Latin America. Voices that, in reality, represent a melting pot of different places, landscapes, sounds and customs. Music that we have already aired, heard, and shared in KEXP's programming but also much more that we have recently included. Artists that you can listen to every Monday on El Sonido and that from now on you will see them frequently featured on our KEXP Live at Home series, in our featured podcasts such as Weekly mix Podcast LHM edition and Song of the Day LHM edition. Across these five weeks, we will explore the freshest sounds of South America, Central America and the Caribbean, Mexico and how these sounds also emerge in the US.

That is why we’ve called on people who I personally feel are fundamental proponents of this rich tapestry of new regional music and those who are promoting innovative projects, exchange programs and fantastic musical curatorship in their artistic workspaces. What kind of impact, legacy and shock wave is this creating? How much of a big deal is all of this and what is its significance? Our guests will give us/supply us with the answers, in addition to recommending some of their favorite Latin American songs.

This article will be updated with more interesting projects such as podcasts, TV shows, music and much more.

Luz Mendoza, songwriter/performer in Y La Bamba (Portland, OR, US).

"This cultural legacy is everything that my parents were able to give and share with me, their values and their life lessons. I feel that how I identify myself has a lot to do with the way that they shaped me and the way in which I am evolving to be my own person, within the beauty and the duality of being both."

"The younger generation is strengthening this path and we need that. And that's healing. And I see that in the music. I see that in how people are getting together and communicating. I see that in the way that during... this revolution, these revolutionary times, how art and how exercising your voice and strength, is powerful and empowering for other people to watch and I feel that that has been healing for me and also validating me."

Luz's song picks:
Combo Chimbita - "Ahomale"
NEPTUNA - "Mar Rojo"
SÁVILA - "Carnival"

Richard Villegas, music journalist at Songmess, Remezcla, Rolling Stone and Bandcamp (US, Mexico).

"There's cultural perspectives or ideas or points of view that make each one unique. I'm not a fan of monolithic identity, so I'm sometimes a little uncomfortable with the ideas of like Hispanic or Latinx because it doesn't quite do the job of encompassing everyone. And I honestly think that that goal is probably misguided. I think we should all be celebrated individually. I think each community deserves its own seat at the table or in the conversation. So and I think it's really interesting the way that I communicate my work."

“I invite as many people as possible to visit Latin America and get to confront these monolithic ideas, confront romanticism. You know, again, Latin America is a wonderful, colorful, wild place, you know, but it's filled with problems and it's also filled with wonder. And it's very different from life in the U.S.. Not better. Not worse. It's just different. And it's important that we in these conversations continue to consider that there's more ways of life than our own.”

Richard Villegas created one of the most interesting music discovery podcasts in all of Latin America, Songmess. We especially recommend the episode below:

Lido Pimienta, artist and songwriter (Colombia/ Canadá)

"I don't really consciously think about my heritage. I don't consciously think about who I am in terms of my bloodline. I think that to me it is just so intrinsic and it's so entrenched in my voice the way that I express myself, that I don't necessarily have to think about it or keep it in mind. To me, I am a manifestation of the things that I am. And I feel like for the next generation of artists and musicians, it really is all about being ourselves and the many ways that we are Latinx and have all these different cultures and all these different mixes inside of us because we're not a monolith. I think that's the main thing that everybody has different blood and different culture. And it cannot just be encompassed in one single thing with a little label."


Lido Pimienta released one of the best albums so far in 2020, Miss Colombia:

Marty Preciado is a cultural promoter, curator and cultural equity advocate. She serves as Program Manager for Grand Park, a park owned by Los Angeles County and operated by The Music Center, celebrating Los Angeles' cultural vitality.

"My identity is who I am. My identity shapes and informs my personal value system. And it's because of my identity that I've become an advocate for programming that strives towards cultural equity and access. It's those values that I try my best to accentuate in everything and all that I do. Equity and access. I always ask myself, how can I leverage my position of power and my privilege in service of communities to drive towards power, representation and access."

"I see this generation constantly challenging the status quo. And it's wonderful to see how they shake up systems of inequity and systemic injustice. I see it and I hear it in music and I see and hear how Latinx independent artists are cross collaborating not only in sound but also in thought and many using their platform to inform and nurture their community."

Marty's songs:
El Espanto - Balún
Quiero Que Me Quieras - Lido Pimienta
Fixture - Unicorns at Heart

Camila González Simon. Feminist communicator and editor. Member of RUIDOSA (Chile)

"We work in amplifying the work of women and LGBTI+ artists from Latin America. Ruidosa was born a little bit from a response to a music industry that was understanding "latinidad" as a construct that is essential, it's static and sometimes universal forgetting the differences and the idea that "latinidad" is not a fixed identity, but a diversity of identity, sometimes indigenous from different countries, from different classes, from different genders, or ways of understanding gender. So we're always as a feminist platform, conscious and always learning from all the different identities that we can find inside or on the margins of "Latinidad. I think new generations of artists, especially independent artists, have the mission to rethink, to resignify, to find new ways of understanding our Latin heritage and ways of honoring all the past generations and all the history of oppression and marginalization. And in broadening the understanding of "Latinidad" as a more complex concept, specially in these times of globalization."


This is RUIDOSA and you can listes to their podcast here.
Camila's songs:
Cecilia - Baño De Mar A Medianoche
Mon Laferte - Canción De Mierda
Francisca Valenzuela - Héroe

Bruno Montalvo, music manager and producer (Brazil). Founder of Brain Productions. Creador of Global Music Fest

"Well, Latin culture is in everything I do. In spite of my works and different ways, has we developed tools for artists from Brazil in different countries in the world, including Latin America. We ended up observing direct influence from the culture of these countries that includes Latin America. The music from Mexico, Colombia, Argentina is very strong here in Brazil and it's influencing our arts in some way. I've done tours in Brazil with artists from different Latin America countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, etc. and we are helping these artists to develop and spread their music and art here in Brazil. And also, we made tours from Brazilian artists in these countries. This is a kind of exchange that we need in Latin America."

Watch to Global Music Fest, the online festival that Bruno created with Minuto Indie during the quarantine:



Paula Rivera is cultural promoter and Vice President of INAMU (Argentina).

Rivera has almost two decades of experience in the field of management, production and management of the independent Latin American music sector. She currently serves as Vice President of INAMU, National Institute of Music. is a member of the Executive Committee and the Intergovernmental Council of the Ibero-American Cooperation Program, Ibermúsicas, representing Argentina. Co-Founder and Director of "SateliteLAT, Network of Women of the Latin American Music Industry" and Co-Founder of TRUENA, Plurinational and Transfeminist Network of music sector workers in Argentina.