Latinos in Illinois and the USA: Music as a Cultural History

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Teens, Adults
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Music can be viewed and “read” as a tool that shares the cultural values, roots, and history of peoples. Over the years, numerous Latino musical genres share the concerns of Latinos throughout the years. For example, there are songs about immigrant woes of the early 20th century to today. Recently, Latinos around the U.S. commented on the 43 student-teachers murdered in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero by creating various songs in different genres. This program focuses on a broad overview of milestones the last 75 years of music in the Latino U.S. as a way of understanding the history, roots, and concerns of Latinos in this land, with a special emphasis on Mexican and Puerto Rican musicians in Illinois as Latino populations that have profoundly marked the state’s culture and music.

Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D., a Chicago-based journalist, offers an illustrated presentation (augmented with musical samplings) exploring how Latino music is a source of history about the Latino community. Johnson hosts and produces her own radio show, Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago on Vocalo (Chicago Public Media). She is also a regular contributor to NPR, Bandcamp, Downbeat and other outlets and a member of the editorial board of Revista Contratiempo.

Johnson credits the tenacious insistence of a Mexican mom and a German/Swedish dad for the extraordinary gift of a bilingual and bicultural heritage. Thanks to them, she grew up between two cities; St. Louis, Missouri and San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Johnson’s music journalism explores the extraordinary diversity of the global music scene with an emphasis on Latin and Latino music—from the most traditional roots music to cutting-edge electronic grooves. It is also very important to her to focus on the cultural riches that immigrants bring to the country of destiny, an invaluable and often unrecognized gift.

This program is offered in partnership with the McLean County Museum of History. Registration is not required, but capacity for this event is limited to 80 people.

This event will take place in the library's Community Room.  All in-person events will follow current library policy regarding masks.

This event is presented as part of the Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Bureau. Illinois Humanities is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA)], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by speakers, program participants, or audiences do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH, Illinois Humanities, IACA, our partnering organizations, or our funders.