Vicente García: Candela

According to legend, during the Dominican Republic’s War of Independence a certain solider abandoned his post in the midst of battle, and after victory his comrades mockingly sang ”Tomás fled with the flag” in a distinctive rhythm that became the foundation of merengue. Almost certainly apocryphal, the legend nonetheless reflects a central truth: The music style goes to the heart of Dominican culture and identity. More to the point, merengue—with … More Vicente García: Candela

Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

The U.S.-Mexican border looms large in American discourse these days, but when it comes to the mariachi landscape the frontier barely exists. From Guadalajara to Hollywood to the facing shores of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, one of the most venerated bands performing traditional Mexican music is Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos. The Grammy-winning ensemble has played Carnegie Hall, the … More Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

Nella: Voy

People on three continents paid to see Nella Rojas sing on stage even before the launch of her splendid debut album, but her first post-release show had a captive audience—passengers on an Iberia Airlines flight from Madrid to Lisbon. Intentional or not, the airborne concert (everyone on the plane got a free CD), was an apt metaphor for a song collection focused on the interval between life’s departures and arrivals, between nostalgia, hope and … More Nella: Voy

Yapunto!

Colombia ranks second in the Americas for forest cover and second worldwide in overall biodiversity, but the country is paying an unexpected environmental price for peace: The 2016 accord between government and guerrillas made more land accessible to exploitation, and as a result deforestation has increased dramatically. Government, community organizations and NGOs are battling to protect the trees; meanwhile, every popular movement needs … More Yapunto!

Juan Luis Guerra: Literal

Juan Luis Guerra and his band 4.40 forever altered the Latin soundscape with bachata and merengue flavored by salsa, jazz and rock infusions and vivid lyrics bearing everything from magical realism and social commentary to sexual metaphor and unapologetic romance. Thirty-five years after his debut album, the Dominican singer-songwriter remains one of the most influential Spanish-language artists of all time—also a wizard, able to evoke reverent … More Juan Luis Guerra: Literal

Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre: Noró

In an introductory prose-poem, Xabier Díaz identifies Noró as the north wind—with previous incarnations as stone and as woman—who fell in love with an Irishman peering at the cliffs of Galway. As wind, Noró dominates humankind because she controls the fine melodic threads we call air and entices us with music. The legend gives a binary … More Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre: Noró

Al Oído: The Best of Mónica Giraldo

Before you process a single word, there is poetry in the sound of Mónica Giraldo’s voice and guitar—a natural healing force akin to a magnificent sunset or refreshing breeze. As the lyrics flow the sensation deepens with joys, challenges, dreams and truths that both surprise and evoke recognition. Al Oído – The Best of Mónica Giraldo includes songs from the Bogotá-born, Latin Grammy-nominated … More Al Oído: The Best of Mónica Giraldo

Fonseca: Agustín

Accustomed to naming each of his albums after one of its standout tracks, Fonseca switched gears when he realized his newest release would coincide with his wife’s giving birth. Thus did Agustín become his eighth baby and also his third. It may be a cliché to paint a successful artist in the rosy light of his songs, but the Colombian singer-songwriter embodies his music in myriad ways, composing a portrait of dedication to family, art and society. His causes … More Fonseca: Agustín

Zaz: Effet Miroir

Camus argued that travel is a spiritual testing, stripping us of habitual surroundings and taking us not away from but toward our essence. Zaz, one of the most popular French artists abroad, did three world tours in four years and says her adventures reshaped her sense of self. Known for retro-modern French chanson and jazz manouche, on Effet Miroir (Mirror Effect), her fourth album, she presents a more nuanced and eclectic soundscape, 15 songs … More Zaz: Effet Miroir

Kendji Girac: Amigo

As one of France’s leading recording artists, Kendji Girac knows the rigors of a marathon tour—indeed, before voice or instrument, his earliest training was for the road. He was born in the Dordogne to a family of Catalan-speaking Gypsies who spent six months of every year in a caravan. His father taught him to prune trees and his grandfather taught him guitar. When he was 16 his uncle filmed him singing a flamenco adaptation of Bella, a popular hip-hop … More Kendji Girac: Amigo