PBS celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with a documentary recognizing Latino contributions to American music

BOSTON, MA – Did you know Salsa came from New York?  That the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” is a cha cha cha? How did rap meet reggae to make Reggaeton?

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, PBS will premiere Latin Music USA, a four-hour documentary series celebrating the Latin rhythms at the heart of jazz, rock, country and rhythm and blues and highlighting the great American music created by Latinos. Revealing the Latin sounds that have influenced the music of great American artists from the Drifters to the Isley Brothers to Santana, the documentary aims to reach lovers of music everywhere, along with fans of American history and everyone who loves to dance.

Airing in primetime on Mondays, October 12 and 19, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS, the documentary series is narrated by acclaimed Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning actor Jimmy Smits and features the stories of Latino artists Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana, the Fania All-Stars, Shakira, Gloria Estefan and Ricky Martin, along with exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage.

The life experiences of the artists featured in the documentary reveal how Latinos have reinvented their music in the United States and forged new identities within this country, while never losing sight of their own rich traditions.

“LATIN MUSIC USA is a cornerstone of PBS’ celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month this year,” said John F. Wilson, PBS Chief TV Programming Executive. “It’s a program for everyone who loves to explore music, dance and American history and their fascinating connections to our overall culture.”

PBS’ celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month extends beyond the broadcast and onto pbs.org. PBS’ video player (pbs.org/video) — where viewers can watch hours of free PBS programming online and on their own time — features an extensive lineup of programs honoring and exploring Latino culture in “Nuestras Historias | Our Stories,” a special Hispanic Heritage Month collection. LATIN MUSIC USA will premiere online on October 13 (English) and 14 (Spanish) as part of this collection. “Nuestras Historias | Our Stories” is at www.pbs.org/nuestrashistorias.

Latin Music USA was produced by a team led by WGBH, in co-production with the BBC. The documentary series anchors a comprehensive multimedia project — on air, online, in print and in the community — that explores the vibrant musical conversations between Latinos and non-Latinos that have helped shape the history of popular music in the United States for more than five decades.

“We are thrilled to have Latin Music USA showcased during Hispanic Heritage Month,” states Executive Producer Elizabeth Deane. “This is a groundbreaking series, a fresh take on our musical history, reaching across time and across musical genres to tell the story of music created by Latinos and embraced by all.”

As part of the project’s multimedia and multicultural approach, Latin Music USA has partnered with the Spanish TV network V-me to premiere the series on two consecutive Tuesdays, October 13th and 20th at 10 p.m., fully translated and narrated in Spanish by Leila Cobo, one of the world’s foremost experts in contemporary Latin music.

Latin Music USA is comprised of four 60-minute episodes featuring a fast-paced mix of music and interviews:

—  Episode One, BRIDGES (10/12, 9-10 p.m. on PBS): The first hour traces the rise of Latin jazz and the explosion of the mambo and the cha cha
cha as they swept the U.S. from East to West and looks at how Latin music infiltrated rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll through the 1960s.
—  Episode Two, THE SALSA REVOLUTION (10/12, 10-11 p.m. on PBS): The second hour explores how Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in New York reinvented the Cuban son and the Puerto Rican plena by adding elements from soul and jazz to create Salsa, which became a defining rhythm for Latinos the world over.
—  Episode Three, THE CHICANO WAVE (10/19, 9-10 p.m. on PBS): Mexican Americans in California, Texas and throughout the Southwest created their own distinct musical voices during the second half of the 20th century. This episodes shows how their music played an important role in the struggle for Chicano civil rights and ultimately propelled them from the barrio to the national stage.
—  Episode Four, DIVAS AND SUPERSTARS (10/19, 10-11 p.m. on PBS): The final hour focuses on the Latin pop explosion of the turn of the 21st
century and the success of artists like Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Shakira in the English-language market. As studios concentrate on
star-driven pop, Latino youth gravitate toward urban fusions like Spanish rap and Reggaeton, as well as Rock en Espanol.