Thursday, October 22, 2020
Home Politics Music continues to maintain Puerto Ricans, 3 years after Hurricane Maria

Music continues to maintain Puerto Ricans, 3 years after Hurricane Maria

Trying again to the times when Maria hit with large drive, I additionally bear in mind how shortly folks responded to elevate funds for aid, whereas the president did next to nothing. It’s no coincidence that the primary main efforts used music.

Since many mainland residents know little or nothing about Puerto Rico or Puerto Rican tradition, aside from maybe having seen or figuring out the music from West Side Story, I used to be not stunned when one tune created to boost cash by Lin Manuel Miranda used a line from Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics.    

Miranda was impressed to borrow that key lyric — “it is virtually like praying” — as a option to reclaim the identify “Maria” within the wake of one of many worst pure disasters on document to hit the island of Puerto Rico.

“I used to be very conscious even because it was taking place that this was the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 100 years, and I knew that ‘Maria’ would endlessly have a special connotation on the island because of that,” the Hamilton creator instructed NPR following the discharge of the charity single. “And that is my favourite tune from West Aspect Story. So I started serious about that tune and the lyrics and a option to flip it into one thing constructive.”

After getting the OK from composer Leonard Bernstein’s property and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Miranda additionally recruited Puerto Rican-American actress and 85-year-old spitfire Rita Moreno, who received an Oscar for her memorable portrayal of Anita within the 1961 movie adaptation of West Aspect Story, for the monitor. You possibly can watch Moreno within the studio with Miranda — along with fellow Latin artists Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Gloria Estefan, and extra…

This salsa remix was launched 5 months after the unique.

As I famous when I wrote about “It’s Almost Like Praying” again in October 2017, one of many issues that impressed me probably the most concerning the tune was that all the tune was crafted utilizing the names of Puerto Rico’s 78 cities.

Cabo Rojo, Corozal, Naguabo, Guaynabo, San Lorenzo, San Germán, San Sebastián, mi viejo San Juan, Isabela, Maricao, Fajardo, Dorado, Hormigueros, Humacao, Luquillo, Hatillo, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Mayagüez, Aguadilla, Quebradillas, Guayanilla, Juana Díaz, Cayey, Arecibo, Guánica, Culebra, Las Piedras, Orocovis, Guayama, Gurabo, Maunabo, Aguas Buenas, Salinas, Río Grande, Sabana Grande, Yabucoa, Florida, Peñuelas, Santa Isabel, Naranjito, Barranquitas, Carolina, Aibonito, Bayamón, Rincón, Barceloneta, Las Marías, Comerío, Moca, Ponce, Manatí, Utuado, Aguada, Adjuntas, Caguas, Canóvanas, Cataño, Juncos, Lajas, Jayuya, Villalba, Arroyo, La cueva de Camuy, los baños de Coamo, Trujillo Alto, Ceiba, Ciales, La isla de Vieques, El grito de Lares, Yauco, Cidra, Añasco, Patillas, Morovis, Loíza 

You don’t need to know Spanish to grasp the tune (after all, all of us can say San Francisco with out being Spanish audio system), although it’s possible you’ll wish to take a look at a map.


Different entertainers leapt to supply help and help; I nonetheless bear in mind watching and donating to the One Voice: Somos Live! live performance. It even united the rival Spanish language networks in the U.S., Univision and Telemundo, in a first-ever simulcast. They had been later joined by 30 different networks.

Marc Anthony will carry out stay from Miami’s Marlins Park stadium. He’ll additionally host different performers, together with Daddy Yankee, Alejandro Sanz, Romeo Santos, Camila, Gente De Zona, Nicky Jam and DJ Khaled.

Jennifer Lopez will carry out stay, and also will host alongside boyfriend Alex Rodriguez from an NBC soundstage in Los Angeles, that includes a star-studded lineup of expertise from music, TV and movie. Demi Lovato, Maroon 5, Ricky Martin, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Marvel, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige and different singers are scheduled to carry out.

You possibly can watch all the three-hour occasion beneath.

Watching it once more myself three years later, I used to be struck by the unimaginable love and solidarity from the viewers as they swayed and danced and sang together with the entertainers on stage.     

Famous person Marc Anthony, who, together with Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, pulled off this main effort, made it clear how he felt about Trump’s failure to reply.



The continued tragedy additionally affected particular person musicians who would seize its impression in tune. In 2017, Hurray for the Riff Raff—a band based in 2007 by Alynda Mariposa Segarra, a Puerto Rican musician from the Bronx—launched their sixth album, Navigator. The band is not what many individuals would stereotypically anticipate when listening to “Puerto Rican” because it’s a part of the folk-punk scene; nevertheless, Segarra crafted a robust musical narrative post-Maria. Matthew Ismael Ruiz reviewed it for Pitchfork.

Alynda Lee Segarra, the inventive drive behind Hurray for the Riff Raff, spent her adolescence crisscrossing the nation on greyhounds and freight trains.The band’s sixth LP calls for extra seats on the desk. It’s a robust folks idea album from a Nuyorican runaway who grew up obsessive about West Aspect Story earlier than being liberated by Bikini Kill.

Segarra speaks to a broader reconciliation with the assimilation engrained within the American Dream, an acknowledgment of the restricted perspective that comes with the white historical past taught in colleges. She by no means realized Spanish and admits that for years she carried an inexplicable disgrace of her heritage. Whereas scripting this document, she pored via the Fania information again catalog, fell in love with the Puerto Rican poets Julia de Burgos and Pedro Pietri, and realized the historical past of the Younger Lords and their newspaper, Pa’lante.

As talked about, the album’s centerpiece tune, “Pa’lante,” which implies “go ahead,” takes its identify from the newspaper revealed by the late Sixties and early Nineteen Seventies radical political group the Younger Lords Social gathering (YLP), of which I used to be a member. I wrote about the YLP here recently previous to our fiftieth anniversary celebration. I discovered it attention-grabbing that within the stay efficiency posted beneath, Segarra is sporting a purple beret, which was a part of the Younger Lords uniform.

Although her references to Nuyorican poet laureate Pedro Pietri’s Puerto Rican Obituary greater than possible weren’t understood by many in her viewers, I used to be elated to listen to them. 

They labored
They had been at all times on time
They had been by no means late
They by no means spoke again
once they had been insulted
They labored
They by no means took days off
that weren’t on the calendar
They by no means went on strike
with out permission
They labored
ten days per week
and had been solely paid for 5
They labored
They labored
They labored
they usually died
They died broke
They died owing
They died by no means figuring out
what the entrance entrance
of the primary nationwide metropolis financial institution seems to be like

All died yesterday at this time
and can die once more tomorrow

This March 2017 efficiency got here six months earlier than Maria, however simply two months after Trump’s inauguration—two months that he used to make sweeping, shocking changes to U.S. immigration policy.

In June 2018, “Pa’lante” was launched as a music video, directed by Kristian Mercado Figueroa, and starring Puerto Rican actress and dancer Melanie Sierra, generally known as Mela Murder. In an interview with Now This, Figueroa and Homicide explored the significance of the video, and referred to as for change.

The video is a robust one.

NPR’s Jessica Diaz-Hurtado interviewed Mercado about making the video, and requested how it felt to return to a post-Maria Puerto Rico.

To offer you some background, when the hurricane hit, it was a tough time. I had loads of household in Puerto Rico. I attempted connecting with my household for 10 days. I used to be on an emergency walkie talkie system to hook up with cities. I used to be attempting to attach with Arroyo [on the southeast coast], the place my household was at. The situations had been dangerous. Me and my mother obtained aircraft tickets for my household to get out, round October. It was unlivable on the time. Three days earlier than they flew out, my grandfather handed away. It was interconnected to the hurricane as a result of he suffered from sleep apnea. It resulted in him getting cardiac arrest. They could not name an ambulance. It is a loopy factor that occurred if you do not have entry to electrical energy or communications and might have an effect on so many aspects of individuals’s lives. There was one thing actually brutal about that. He was a veteran, too, so there’s this betrayal you’re feeling about that. That actually damage me and my household; we’re all feeling the trauma of that. That’s the place I used to be coming from. I actually felt that absence and I used to be looking for one thing to pour myself into. I used to be depressed for 3 months, in a downward slope. So this mission was an ideal factor to work on and to digest these feelings.

As musicians on the mainland raised funds for hurricane aid, there was additionally an effort to raise money for musicians on the island.

Administrators from the Jazz Basis of America (JFA), an American non-profit group that helps legendary musicians of jazz, blues and roots and different musical genres who can not work due to sickness, accident, previous age or pure catastrophe, visited the island to stand up shut and assist the musicians of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. Wendy Oxenhorn, Govt Director of the JFA, which was created in 1989 and based mostly in New York, defined that after Hurricane Maria handed via Puerto Rico these within the JFA, in addition to many People, had been dismayed by the way in which the federal authorities has managed the restoration of the island and has severely affected its fellow Puerto Rican residents.

“What we felt was disgrace after we noticed the president of america, Donald Trump, throughout his preliminary go to to Puerto Rico, saying feedback and doing inappropriate issues in the midst of the disaster. We wish to emphasize that these feedback and actions don’t signify the American folks,” Oxenhorn emphasised.

As Govt Director she felt the duty to supply all the assistance they may to the musicians of Puerto Rico. “The lives of the Puerto Rican musicians had been vastly affected after María. For months, there was no work for these professionals. There was no electrical energy and the institutions the place they work – theaters, accommodations, eating places, plazas and different places- stay closed. For this reason we wish to assist them,” she mentioned. The primary donation obtained by the JFA to assist the musicians of the island was from Bobby Sanabria, a Latin jazz musician of Puerto Rican descent dwelling in New York.  Together with different musicians, he held a profit live performance for Puerto Rico the place they raised $10,000. That cash was donated to the JFA in order that they may assist the musicians of Puerto Rico affected by the hurricane, she mentioned.

Right here’s a glimpse into that live performance.

One other artist producing highly effective music and video regarding Puerto Rico’s post-Maria scenario and its historical past and politics is Ileana Cabra Joglar, who performs as iLe.

(translation) Ileana Cabra Joglar, recognized artistically as iLe, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on April 28, 1989. She is a Puerto Rican singer who was the feminine voice for 10 years of the musical group Calle 13, alongside along with her brothers René Pérez Joglar (Residente) and Eduardo Cabra (Visitante). Whereas she was a part of the band, she made a number of contributions with productions and artists in Puerto Rico and overseas.

Jon Pareles, standard music critic for The New York Instances, wrote about iLe in July 2019.

Between iLe’s first and second albums, Hurricane Maria slammed throughout Puerto Rico (in addition to the Virgin Islands and Dominica) in 2017 and shattered the island’s infrastructure. ILe noticed an detached response from america authorities and Puerto Ricans compelled to make do as greatest they may, largely on their very own.

“Hurricane Maria uncovered one thing we wanted to see with our personal eyes,” she mentioned. It made iLe wish to write about forces bigger than romance on her subsequent album. “All of the plans modified utterly,” she mentioned. “With this album I’m in one other second, I’m indignant. And I simply wanted to precise that. It got here naturally.”

“Almadura” begins with “Contra Todo” (“Against All”); in its lyrics, iLe makes herself the voice of an invaded territory, plotting resistance. It additionally consists of “Odio” (“Hate”), which needs for hatred to die of starvation as a result of nobody feeds it. (The video for “Odio” revisits considered one of Puerto Rico’s historic wounds, the 1978 police shooting of two activists in search of Puerto Rican independence.) “Ñe Ñe Ñé” makes use of a buoyant conventional Puerto Rican plena beat and a seemingly cheerful melody for a wake-up name, satirically mocking the federal government and decrying Puerto Rico’s humiliation and passivity.

Like her brother, rapper Residente, and lots of different younger artists from the island, Puerto Rico’s colonial standing is a significant concern mentioned of their work. Once I write tales about Puerto Rico for Each day Kos, inevitably somebody raises the query of the standing concern within the feedback, and asks me: “Why don’t Puerto Ricans need it to be a state?” Although the present supporters for independence are a minority after a long time of repression on the island, the historical past of what truly occurred there may be little understood on the mainland, although recognized by activists and sympathizers.

On condition that the ruling elite on the island had been traditionally complicit with U.S. authorities colonial forces, and that very same elite controls up to date island politics, it’s no surprise that many Puerto Ricans would moderately preserve the established order (with out Trump’s viciousness) moderately than go for statehood. As famous by The New York Instances, iLe addressed some of the history we don’t learn in school in a single vivid music video: The 1978 Cerro Maravilla Bloodbath. 

This yr marked the fortieth anniversary of the Cerro Maravilla Bloodbath in Puerto Rico, by which two pro-independence activists – 18-year-old Carlos Soto Arriví and 24-year-old Arnaldo Darío Rosario – had been assassinated by cops, leading to a large authorities cover-up and finally, the indictments of a number of officers concerned.


In early investigations, nevertheless, Puerto Rican and U.S. justice departments upheld that the officer(s) engaged in no wrongdoing, having acted in self-defense. When investigations reopened within the early 80s resulted in convictions for these officers, many believed their suspicions — that each (U.S. and Puerto Rican) governments co-conspired to cowl up a planned-out assassination of the 2 activists — to be true.

The tune’s lyrics are a name for solidarity and the tip of hatred. In an announcement launched with the video, iLe says, “Throughout this period by which the suffocating colonial scenario that Puerto Rico has at all times lived below is extra tense than ever, virtually all that’s left for us to do is to recollect, by means of a narrative, so we will preserve our reminiscence as a nation. The video exhibits only one instance of what continues to happen, not solely on this island however all around the globe in several political and day-to-day contexts. This tune is my emotional response. We’re nonetheless manipulated by the hate that we feed. If we wish to stay in a world guided by love, now we have to take the time to look inside, and be prepared to seek out ourselves in our fellow human beings.”

On a far much less somber observe, iLe visited NPR’s Tiny Desk for a live performance final yr amid the tumultuous calls for for the elimination of Puerto Rico’s governor.

When vocalist Ileana Cabra Joglar and her band visited the Tiny Desk, they’d simply arrived from the entrance traces of the historic demonstrations going down in Puerto Rico. Two days earlier, they had been a part of a crowd of tens of 1000’s who had been on the streets calling for the resignation of embattled Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. (Rosselló recently stepped down.)

Proper from the beginning, it was clear what was on iLe’s thoughts in her tune “Curandera” — “I’m a healer / I do not want candles to light up / I carry purifying water to cleanse / Eradicating pains so that they by no means return” — as congas and percussion shook the room with an Afro-Caribbean beat. The tune is from the Calle 13 veteran’s most up-to-date album Almadura, which is crammed with metaphors and allegories concerning the political, social and financial situations in Puerto Rico. If there have been any doubt as to her that means, it was dispelled as she and the band reworked the fervour and revolutionary spirit of the large avenue demonstrations right into a efficiency not like many heard in our workplaces.

Within the refrain of the slow-burning “Contra Todo,” iLe sings about channeling inside strengths and frustrations to win battles and remake the world. Her lyrics are wealthy with historical past, capturing the spirit of the streets of San Juan whilst she stood, eyes closed, behind the Tiny Desk. Her whole efficiency is a startling reflection of this second in Puerto Rican historical past.

Press play on this highly effective and joyful efficiency.

iLe has additionally paid respect to the deeply rooted, ongoing Afro-Puerto Rican tradition of music and dance. 

The music video was directed by Alejandro Pedrosa and presents a uncooked look into bomba, particularly the sensual strategy of güembé, which is a conventional dance and musical model of Puerto Rico with African roots. In the meantime, the sleek, percussion-soaked tune options iLe’s soulful voice that tells a narrative about attraction and the way we use our our bodies to precise our connection to at least one one other.

iLe mentioned she needed to spotlight the Afrocentric custom as a result of she feels Puerto Ricans have been lacking elements of their very own tradition.”Despite the fact that these days you may nonetheless hear bomba on the streets, it isn’t as widespread as I’d anticipate or as I’d need it to be,” she mentioned.The Grammy award-winner additionally talked about how grateful she was that the bomba dancers featured within the music video agreed to look in it as a result of they’re revered folks in Loíza’s bomba scene. Loíza is a coastal city within the northeast of Puerto Rico, the place bomba has maintained its prominence for a whole lot of years.

“Those that know bomba, know who’s there within the video,” iLe mentioned. She believes that due to the island’s “colonial standing,”many Puerto Ricans — together with herself — are looking for a option to be taught extra about their roots.

It’s unimaginable to sever music from dance on the island and within the Puerto Rican diaspora. It’s also key that we each acknowledge and rejoice the position of Black Puerto Rican tradition. KQED just lately produced, for its If Cities Could Dance sequence, “For the Ancestors: Bomba is Puerto Rico’s Afro-Latino Dance of Resistance.” We meet Mar Cruz, an Afro-Puerto Rican dancer.

The motion and sound of bomba originates within the practices of West Africans dropped at the Caribbean island by European colonizers as slaves within the seventeenth century, and over time absorbed influences from the Spanish in addition to the area’s indigenous Taíno folks. Slavery fueled sugar manufacturing and lots of different industries, and continued till 1873, when a legislation making a gradual ban went into impact. Like different Afro-Caribbean cultural varieties, bomba offered a supply of political and religious expression for individuals who’d been forcibly uprooted from their properties, at occasions catalyzing rebellions. “When now we have one thing to say to protest, we go on the market and play bomba,” says Mar. “It’s our means of claiming ‘we’re right here.’”

In Puerto Rico’s heart of black tradition, Loíza, bomba is at the heart of protests. Because the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, teams like Colectivo Ilé have shared their grief via the dance. “That demise didn’t solely have an effect on the African American neighborhood but additionally the Afro-Puerto Rican community,” says Mar. “Folks have at all times been racist in direction of us. They’re lastly prepared to say, ‘That was a tragedy!’ However they’re racist too. There was once lynchings right here too.”

A brand new motion to say black satisfaction and to acknowledge the island’s complicated historical past of racism is a part of the resurgence of bomba, offering Mar and her sister María, together with many extra Afro-Puerto Rican performers in each Puerto Rico and diaspora communities, a inventive outlet to rejoice their oft-suppressed cultural heritage. “I’m representing my ancestors,” says María. “These black slaves who danced up to now, that was their solely technique of self-expression.”

Get to know the Cruz sisters and bomba slightly higher within the clip beneath.

Right here’s footage from a George Floyd memorial vigil held this summer season in Loiza.

Whether or not it’s bomba, or salsa, or reggaeton, music will at all times be part of Puerto Rican tradition, and the folks’s will to outlive. As I sit right here writing to the sound of Latin Jazz nice composer and pianist Eddie Palmieri enjoying, with iLe singing his basic “Justicia” (Justice) at Nationwide Salsa Day in Puerto Rico this yr, I do know in my coronary heart that there’ll at all times be music to hold us ahead.  


Pa’lante. Now go ahead—and vote!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

In rebuke of Trump, Obama urges voters to indicate up for Biden

Former President Barack Obama blasted President Donald Trump’s dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic, his response to racial unrest and his basic unfitness for...

A Texas teen may simply have discovered the pathway to a COVID-19 remedy

“I developed this molecule that may bind to a sure protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This protein by binding to it'll cease the perform...

Shareholders of Australia’s Crown Resorts vote down govt pay amid inquiry

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The brand of Australia's high...

Enrique Iglesias Accepts Prime Latin Artist of All Time on the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards

The 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards are formally in full impact! Whereas many reveals have gone utterly digital or combined in pre-recordings, the Billboard Latin...

Recent Comments