Women Are Instrumental To Latin Music

This story is courtesy Alt.Latino and NPR Music and is reported by Anamaria Sayre and Felix Contreras. The photo of Melissa Aldana is courtesy of Hollis King and the artist.

Latin music has a history of disenfranchising women. They’re often placed behind the mic or in the background — assuming they’re allowed to participate at all. As we approach the end of Women’s History Month, we’ve invited some artists who have defied expectations and made a name for themselves alongside their instruments: multi-instrumentalist Silvina Moreno, guitarist Eljuri, saxophonist Melissa Aldana and Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato. We also talk to Silvana Estrada, a life-long multi-instrumentalist whose career has been vocal-centered.

Professor Frances Aparicio also joins the podcast to explain the cultural and social implications of varied female participation in Latin music. She offers a sense of how thoroughly social norms and expectations bleed into musical participation — illustrating how female instrumentalists like these, who keep pushing forward and subverting the mold, will shape the future.

The importance of the accomplishments of these instrumentalists, for Latin music and la cultura, cannot be understated.

Eljuri, “Nunca Volveré”
Silvina Moreno, “Esperanza”‘
Melissa Aldana, “Visions”
Silvana Estrada, “Carta”
Cristina Pato, “Saeta/Pan Piper”