Huevos con aceite: Are you missing song lyrics or opportunities?

I remember listening to popular music as a teenager. Sometimes the way lyrics were sung gave much leeway to misinterpretations. Some of the most famous misinterpretations have become almost legendary and many can be found on the website The site is named after the popular Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze in which the lyrics “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky” have often been misinterpreted as “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy”. Kind of funny. What happens, though, when the layer of a second language defines how an individual interprets the letras of a song? The results can be amusing, if not somewhat clever.

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Cultural Ambassadors

Jazz musician Miguel Zenón, a cultural ambassador


While visiting Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend, I had the good fortune of seeing Puerto Rican jazz musician and alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón. Being a big fan of jazz and a musician myself, I have followed Zenón’s music for some time. I was interested to hear selections from his last CD Esta Plena, an exciting romp of original tunes that incorporated rhythms of African inspired plena. Instead, I was privileged to hear two rousing sets of brand new music for a recording to be released later this fall. Zenón’s new project will be a selection of songs by well-known composers in Puerto Rican history reinterpreted for a jazz quartet. As Zenón impressed the audience that night in the Windy City, it was obvious he was fulfilling his role as a cultural ambassador.

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Honorary Latinos

Robert Mulligan

Sitting in front a trio of congas, Grand Rapids based musician and band leader Robert Mulligan counts off the rhythm to Todo Tiene Su Final. His band, the regionally recognized salsa orchestra Grupo Ayé, breaks into the Hector Lavoe classic while the audience below jumps onto the dance floor. The band delivers another stellar performance and leaves the dancers shouting for more. 

West Michigan attorney Michael Gardiner shakes hands with a family from Guanajuato, Mexico and then invites them into his office for a consultation meeting. Before delving into business, he spends a few minutes asking about the family’s hometown and shares his experiences of living in Mexico. Although Michael speaks fluent Spanish, a connection is made with the new clients that transcends language.

People like Robert and Michael represent what I refer to as “honorary Latinos”. They are individuals that live or work and have earned significant credibility within Hispanic communities even though they are both… well… non-Latino Caucasians. While their situations may not seem all that unique, some may find it unusual considering the perception of a cultural disconnect between Caucasians and populations that are commonly referred to as “people of color”. Earning credibility, I believe, is only a part of their stories.
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Herencia Africana: The African influence in Latin America

Colombian hip-hop group ChocQuibTown

In light of February being Black History Month, I was inspired to write a post about African heritage in Latin America. Although many are familiar with the strong African presence in areas like the Caribbean, there are other regions that also have influential Afro Latino histories, communities, and heroes. The following examples reflect a few of these perspectives that may not be as well known.

This month, members of Colombian hip-hop group ChocQuibTown were interviewed by Univision anchor man Jorge Ramos on the popular television program Al Punto. The group spoke about the challenges of being Latinos of African descent, racism, and how they use music as an expression of their heritage and pride. The lyrics from their award winning song, “De Donde Vengo Yo (Where I Come From), reflect the sentiment of the group’s home province of Choco, part of Columbia’s predominately Afro Pacific Coast. Seventy percent of Choco’s residents live on less than one dollar a day.

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Latinos are ready to lead the digital revolution

There has been some social media buzz recently about the results of a marketing survey completed by Terra Networks and comScore. A press release on January 3rd announced results that show Hispanics are leading other populations in digital experiences and engagement. Across multiple digital platforms, Hispanics continue to over-index non-Hispanics in several areas that include: responsiveness to digital targeted ads, responsiveness to advertising on sites with user generated content, and interaction with online video ads. In addition, the survey indicates that Hispanics embrace an “early adopter” perspective by showing a willingness to explore new technology.
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Parranda Navideña

Over the holidays, my family and I were “invaded” by a parranda navideña while visiting relatives in Puerto Rico. During a parranda, a group of friends and musicians will gather together to asaltar or surprise other friends or families at their homes. The parranderos will arrive at a home and quietly gather by the front door. At a signal, they will all start singing and playing traditional holiday music. Everyone is then invited inside for drinks, food, more music and dance. The parranda continues into the night, traveling to additional houses and gathering more people along the way.Below is a video of the parranda that came by our place over the holidays.

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