Latin Music USA

Mon, 10/12/2009 - 9:00pm - 11:00pm

Pictured: Chicano Rock

Credit: (c) 2009 WGBH Educational Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Design by eatdrink and James Adamé

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, WXXI presents a four-hour documentary series celebrating the Latin rhythms at the heart of jazz, rock, country, and rhythm and blues, and highlighting the great American music created by Latinos. Latin Music USA premieres Monday, October 12 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable1011/cable11), and concludes Monday, October 19. Revealing the Latin sounds that have influenced the music of great American artists from the Drifters to the Isley Brothers to Santana, the documentary aims to reach lovers of music everywhere, along with fans of American history and everyone who loves to dance.

Narrated by acclaimed Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning actor Jimmy Smits, the series features the stories of Latino artists Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana, the Fania All-Stars, Shakira, Gloria Estefan, and Ricky Martin, along with exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage.

The life experiences of the artists featured in the documentary reveal how Latinos have reinvented their music in the United States and forged new identities within this country, while never losing sight of their own rich traditions.

Latin Music USA is comprised of four 60-minute episodes featuring a fast-paced mix of music and interviews:

• Episode One, Bridges (10/12, 9-10 p.m. ): The first hour traces the rise of Latin jazz and the explosion of the mambo and the cha cha chá as they swept the U.S. from East to West, and looks at how Latin music infiltrated rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll through the 1960s.
Episode Two, The Salsa Revolution (10/12, 10-11 p.m.): The second hour explores how Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in New York reinvented the Cuban son and the Puerto Rican plena byadding elements from soul and jazz to create Salsa, which became a defining rhythm for Latinos the world over.

Episode Three, The Chicano Wave (10/19, 9-10 p.m.): Mexican Americans in California, Texas and throughout the Southwest created their own distinct musical voices during the second half of the 20th century. This episodes shows how their music played an important role in the struggle for Chicano civil rights and ultimately propelled them from the barrio to the national stage.

Episode Four, Divas and Superstars (10/19, 10-11 p.m.): The final hour focuses on the Latin pop explosion of the turn of the 21st century and the success of artists like Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, and Shakira in the English-language market. As studios concentrate on star-driven pop, Latino youth gravitate toward urban fusions like Spanish rap and Reggaetón, as well as Rock en Español.
PBS’ celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month extends beyond the broadcast and onto PBS’ video player ( — where viewers can watch hours of free PBS programming online and on their own time — features an extensive lineup of programs honoring and exploring Latino culture in “Nuestras Historias | Our Stories,” a special Hispanic Heritage Month collection. Latin Music USA will premiere online on October 13 (English) and 14 (Spanish) as part of this collection. “Nuestras Historias |Our Stories” is at