A Brief History of Latin “Salsa” Music’s early Beginnings
Latin Music throughout the Caribbean and Latin America is the result of the human spirit’s triumph as it dealt with the injustices committed in the name of slavery and colonialism. By the end of the ninetieth century and with it the demise of these deplorable conditions, freedom gave way to euphoria and then reality as the newly freed found themselves face to face with economic and political upheaval.
It was that very economic and political upheaval that caused migration and with it, the sounds we know today as “Salsa”. From island to island and finally to the mainland, the sounds of the Caribbean grew progressively. “Salsa” developed as a result of bringing African, Creole and indigenous cultures together and the rhythms they developed, such as Rumba and Changui, first introduced in Havana. San Juan saw the development of Bomba and Seis; and the Dominican Republic produced Merengue and Carabine. Salsa, Latin Jazz, Latin Funk are all derivatives of the original Caribbean sound and it is through an understanding of our cultures that we can keep this music alive without losing sight of its origins. Despite its various changes, artists never lost sight of the basics for their music, “Salsa”. From Machito Grillo to Tito Rodriguez with his sultry singing style to Tito Puente who cultivated some of the most progressive sounds, “Salsa” music has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
We’ve witnessed its expansion through cross-over artist such as Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias who exploded unto the American pop scene with Latin flavored rhythms and fostered our cultural origins into the fabric of American music; thanks to these and many others, Latin music has grown to a rhythmic style known throughout the world. Notwithstanding, and within the past two decades, the sound of Latin Music has been changing. As a result, young Latin artists are now gravitating towards the Hip-Hop scene and leaving the roots of those tropical sounds that were developed in such places as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, Columbia, and The Dominican Republic.
As Latinos we have both a responsibility and a duty to our heritage and our ancestors to keep this musical form alive and share with the world its roots and festive spirit, a spirit that has brought us through the most difficult of times, yet kept us smiling despite the obstacles we’ve had to face.