In today's world, it is more important than ever to be unified as one world, one people and one voice. There can often be a multitude of beautiful ways to express that voice, and often through the power of song. We are all essential parts of this universe, and when you break it down, "uni" means "one" and "verse" means "song." We are a part of one song, and in our song, we can add different layers, harmonies, rhythms and so much more.
Yet, if we are all so important to this one song, shouldn't we embrace all the possible ways to make it unique and memorable? Music is designed to bring us together, yet I feel as though we sometimes let our comfort zones keep us locked in a cage of familiarity, though deep down, we want to try new things and see how differences can bring us together. One example of such is through the style of Latin music. Full of beautiful, intoxicating rhythms that make you want to get up and dance, it holds immense power to unite people together, but I often feel as though it doesn't get the attention it deserves. If you've been itching to get into Latin music, here are five reasons to start.
If you're not sure where to even begin listening in the realm of Latin music, that's ok! From Brazilian samba, to cha-cha, to Cuban salsa, you are sure to find something great! Pictured above is Celia Cruz, one of the greatest Cuban salsa singers of all time. During her life, she performed her music with so much zest, passion and joy, and truly brought the style of salsa to a whole new level with her Afro-Cuban influence!
Although there are probably some naysayers out there who claim that all Latin music sounds the same, this is FAR from the truth. With the many different styles that exist, there are different instruments played that help each distinct style sound more authentic to its origins. For example, with a group like Mambo Combo (whom I watched live this weekend!), you hear a variety of songs, some drawing from Brazilian influences or others from Afro-Cuban Jazz/Salsa. For a Brazilian inspired piece, you might expect to hear Agogo Bells, a whistle or a Ganza (Shaker) just to name a few. Regardless of the instrument, it will help you understand the feel for the piece and to enjoy the style that much more.
Latin music was made to get you up and on your feet, and the style of Salsa is no exception to this. Dancing to the style of salsa music can be intricate, quick, mysterious, passionate, but one thing's for sure - it will always be intriguing and leave you wanting more. It's fun to listen and dance to, and is a great way to have fun while being active! Suggestion? "I Love Salsa" by N'Klabe is great way to ease your ear into listening to its intoxicating rhythms.
All forms of Latin music can speak to the heart, but I have always regarded the traditional Mexican Mariachi bands as the winner of them all. With instruments including the guitarron, vihuela and the accordion, it allows for versatility in both place and occasion where a Mariachi might perform. Some songs are more appropriate for a festival setting, while others are perfectly suited for swooning a lover by the moonlight. But, even if that is not the case for you, it is still a style of Latin music definitely worth checking out.
Yes, this is from Shakira's most notorious hit in 2010, but it perfectly captures the essence of what Latin music aims to do. It brings people from every nation together because it is truly is a celebration of life. So many styles include origins and sub-origins from continents outside of South America; how could you not pay homage to that? At the end of the day, all Latin music asks of you is to have fun, and if you like having fun, then what ARE you waiting for?
Ladies and gents, there you have it. It isn't hard, it isn't some new, complex idea that only certain people can understand. Yes, it's Latin, but it's music. A unifier, a bridge-builder and a connector. As human beings, it is our obligation to connect with each other, and music, especially Latin music, is a great way to do so. The last thing I'll say is this - you owe it to yourself to at least try. Even if it's different, even if it's unfamiliar - do it. No one truly lived by sitting back on the sidelines, now did they? Listen to one Latin song (no, not Pitbull) after reading this, and who knows? You might just be shaking those hips before the song is over!