Catalina Maria Johnson

As one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century, Ella Fitzgerald was admired around the world. She was also one of the most acclaimed, earning a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master award; a National Medal of Art and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, 14 Grammy Awards and honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Howard Universities.

Every summer, Alt.Latino hits the road to attend the three largest Latin music festivals and it gets harder and harder to catch it all.

We tried something new this year at the annual SXSW Music Festival. We tracked down a bunch of Latin musicians, put a microphone in front of them wherever we find them and then ask them about their music.

To do this, I needed help so I called in Alt.Latino contributors Marisa Arbona Ruiz and Catalina Maria Johnson.

I struggled to balance the conflicting emotions of enjoying the musical celebration that is the annual SXSW Festival with the pain of the devastating loss of life in Friday's terrorist attack in New Zealand. It was an emotional push and pull that I kept completely to myself.

I say this to anyone who will listen: Latin music these days is exploding with so much creativity and inspiration that it is simply overwhelming. Once you get past the billions of views on YouTube of the reggaeton- inspired pop music, you'll find myriad artists who consider their cultural backgrounds a blank canvas on which they express their sense of self and identity.

Read Catalina Maria Johnson's profile of Jeremy Dutcher, originally published in September 2018, below — and listen at the audio link for the year-end version, adapted for radio.

Puerto Rican singer/songwriter iLe's debut album iLevitable took the indie Latinx musical world by storm in 2017, winning a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative album with its mix of passionate classic boleros and vulnerable, sensual original songs.

Just as President Trump called out Congressman Keith Ellison, Deputy Chair of the DNC, for wearing one of Las Cafeteras' t-shirts that declares, "'I do not believe in borders," the border-busting and genre-blending band share a homage to immigrant love and sacrifice with the "Tiempos De Amor" video, premiered by Alt.Latino.

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LADAMA's contemporary blends of Latin American musical traditions have been on our radar since the release of their extraordinary

Rios de Norte y Sur (Rivers from North and South), the sophomore album from New York City's Radio Jarocho, pays loving homage to an art form that crossed the border with Mexican-American immigrants and has taken root in towns and cities around the U.S.

Many of my happiest childhood memories revolve around mariachi music; the elegantly-clad ensembles were always an integral part of family celebrations in my mom's hometown of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, and the raucous sing-alongs that inevitably would ensue were sure to include songs by Mexico's Jose Alfredo Jimenez, the beloved composer and singer who became emblematic of his genre.

If there ever was a perfect soundtrack for a California road-trip, Bang Data's latest album, LOCO, would totally fit the bill. Bay area singer-rapper-songwriter Deuce Eclipse and multi-instrumentalist Juan Manuel Caipo have been making music together since 2008. Their music is deeply atmospheric, so it's not surprising that it can often be heard in commercials and TV shows (they've been featured on Breaking Bad, Lucha Underground, and Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, to mention just a few).

Some events in Adan Jodorowsky's life seem almost too fantastic to be true. But indeed, the son of renowned Chilean avant-garde icon Alejandro Jodorowsky was taught to play the guitar by George Harrison. As a 7 year old, he learned a few dance steps from James Brown himself.

Despite leading such a charmed life, Jodorowsky says that he felt the need to share his earlier musical creations with the world as"Adanowsky." But he's ready to finally leave that musical persona behind.

The Jewish-Latin musical connection has been explored by musicians in a variety of fascinating ways — in the '50s by the so-called mamboniks, or in the early 2000s by Hip Hop Hoodios, for example.

Brooklyn-based composer and vocalist Xenia Rubinos has been an Alt.Latino favorite since her magical debut album in 2013.

There is possibly no other single musician who has defined the state of Latin Jazz more than Eddie Palmieri, who turns 81 years old today.

The village of El Clavo lies just an hour bus-ride from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, practically hidden in the lushness of the jungle. Centuries ago, the settlement was founded by rebel Africans who set up secret free communities deep in the brush of the region.

Listening to "Estaré Alegre, No Estaré Triste" from Meridian Brothers' upcoming album ¿Dónde estás María? transported me to the sonic equivalent of a Baroque church in the Americas — structures that, despite belying their colonial origins in over-the-top gold ornateness, remain deeply informed by an indigenous and criollo sensibility.

Several years ago, Julián Salazar — at the time guitar player for internationally-renowned band Bomba Estereo — spent some time on the Pacific coast of Columbia, an experience that motivated him to capture the lush, entrancing sonic landscapes of the jungle in his compositions.

About eight years ago, in a small club in Copenhagen, a then-unknown band named Bomba Estéreo grabbed us by the musical jugular. Singer Liliana Saumet strode across the stage as the group wrapped her incendiary vocals in a startlingly fresh mix of Colombian roots, propelled by a punk-psychedelic sensibility.

These days, Bomba Estéreo occupies a privileged space in the Latinx musical universe — it composed one of the most iconic anthems of Latinx identity, "Soy Yo." (Its video now has over 23 million views.)

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