The music we listen to as children stays with us the rest of our lives. When listing their influences, today’s Latin artists will invariably tell us about the music they heard at home. Those personal family mixes, most often including both genres native to their own countries – or those of their parents – and English-language rock and pop – inevitably echo in the music they make today.
During Hispanic Heritage month, we talk often about the past, highlighting the musical contributions of historic figures to ensure they will not be forgotten, and reviving the soundtracks of our childhoods for our own kids.
But legacy is of course about the future as well as the past. Here are artists devoted to creating consciousness of Latin music, and promoting language and culture education for the littlest ones.
Mi Amigo Hamlet, Happy Land is Tierra Feliz
Guatemalan native and Chicago resident Hamlet Meneses uses his Latin alternative songs for children to promote bilingual education. His new album, Happy Land is Tierra Feliz, comes out today (Sept. 21.)
Sonia de los Santos, ¡Alegría!
Sonia de los Santos first came to the attention of young audiences and their parents as a protege of kindie king Dan Zanes. The singer-songwriter says the goal of her new album, coming Oct. 5, is simply to make people smile.
Luis Pescetti y Amigos, Magía Todo el Día
A cast of international musicians turn poems by the revered Argentine children’s performer and writer Luis Pescetti into songs on this 2018 Latin-Grammy nominated album.
Rolf y Flor (The Pinker Tones), “Quiero Ser Explorador”
A while ago the members of Barcelona’s The Pinker Tones traded all-night raves for children’s matinees where they play the music of their bilingual book and song series Rolf y Flor. Their latest, Rolf y Flor en el Amazonas, called for samba and other Brazilian beats. The lyrics are strictly for kids, but the music should please parents, too.
Ana & Gio, “Qué Rico Es”
Mexican duo Ana & Gio’s original music is at the center their early childhood development program that includes classes, concerts and an album that was just nominated for a 2018 Latin Grammy. Their song “Qué Rico Es” features salsero Gilberto Santa Rosa.
Evan and Vanessa “Sol,Sol,Sol”
Louisville couple Evan and Vanessa perform what they bill as “peaceful bilingual music for children and families.” Ethereal vocals and stimulating rhythms are calming for babies, and for harried moms and dads. The duo’s new album, In Our World There are No Strangers is due Sept. 28.
Various, Hold Tight, Shine Bright
Los Angeles’ Lucky Diaz and other well-known children’s artists responded to the American government’s child separation policy with this compilation. Money from album sales will go to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a nonprofit that provides legal aid to refugee and immigrant families.
Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats, “La Cosecha”
Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats performed swinging songs from their new album last month at Lollapalooza’s Kidzapalooza fest. The new release, All the Sounds, includes “La Cosecha,” a celebratory tribute to community gardening, and a Piazzolla-style tango, “Howl to the Moon,” for Halloween.
Grupo Cantaro, The Hummingbird Sings and Dances: Latin American Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes
Montreal company The Secret Mountain’s latest “audio Picture book” offer an introduction to traditional Latin American song from Mexico City’s Grupo Cantaro.