The story of Latin music comes alive via a new online home for the collection of 50,000 vintage recordings.
On a hill in a town in Spain, best known as the burial place of kings, stands the Villa Palmera, whose verdant grounds fulfill the dreamy expectations called forth by its name. But it’s what’s inside that is astonishing, even if you have traveled the hour by train from Madrid specially to see it: shelf after shelf of record albums, in meticulous order, encompassing more than a century of Latin music.
There are about 50,000 recordings in the Gladys Palmera Collection, which includes LPs, 78s, 45s, many of them very rare finds. The collection also houses CDs, musical movie posters and photographs of musicians both timelessly famous and long forgotten (but certainly not by Gladys Palmera).
Gladys Palmera is the alter-ego of Alejandra Fierro Eleta, who bought her first albums in the 1980s, and was soon sharing her love for Afro-Cuban music, Mexican boleros and tropical soul via a pioneering Latin music radio show in her native Spain. (Fierro’s father was a member of a Spanish industrialist dynasty; her Panamanian mother’s family included composer Carlos Eleta Almaran, who wrote the evergreen ballad “Historia de un Amor.”)