The National Hispanic Heritage Month (Spanish: Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana) occurs from September 15 - October 15. This is the month to honor and recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans in our country.
Hispanic Heritage Month began as a weekly event. It was a legislation sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. In 1988, the commemorative week was expanded to a month (September 15 to October 15) by Rep. Esteban Edward Torres (D-Pico Rivera), amended by Senator Paul Simon and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the commemoration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, who all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21 respectively.
Influence of Latin and Hispanic Music in DC
No one can deny the huge influence that Hispanics and people from Hispanic descent have had in contributing to the growth and well being of the United States of America. Today, Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States. One of the many cities Hispanic culture has influenced is Washington, DC. There are some cultural similarities that bring our diverse backgrounds together, such as language, cuisine, religion and most importantly, music.
Washington, DC has an incredibly rich Latin and Hispanic local music scene. From Rock to *Cumbia, *Son Jarocho, and Mariachi to *Vallenato, Salsa, and Hip-Hop, DC embraces it all. I’ve had the pleasure and honor to perform next to talented musicians, such as: Spanish Rock Band “Sonic Castaways”, Son Jarocho Band “Son la Lucha”, Mariachi Band “Los Gallos Negros” Latin Hip-Hop Artist “Brooklyn the Kid”, Andean Duo WAYTA, and many more. Everytime I leave one of my peers' shows, I am completely energized with happiness and joy.
The majority of the Latin and Hispanic shows you find in the DMV, generally speaking, take place at Tropicalia and Bossa Bistro Lounge, or during the festivals that highlight the international music scene like the Funk Parade and H Street Festival. We have such a rich, diverse, and vibrant local music scene in Washington, DC, partly because of the huge support from Jim Thompson’s Multiflora Productions, which is a multifaceted, multicultural agency that specializes in expanding the reach of genre-bending roots-to-the-future music.
How COVID-19 Impacted DC’s Music Scene
With the current situation of the music industry, and the pause on all the live shows along with the closure of venues in the DC area such as: U Street Music Hall, Kitty O’Shea’s, Eighteenth Street Lounge, and more looming in the shadows due to our current reality, I worry about the fate of the few venues that support Latin and Hispanic music and the future of Latin music live shows in the DMV as a whole.
Despite this I remain hopeful that we can turn this around to our favor by joining our powers; my vision for the future, once COVID has passed, is that we keep building those bridges in the DMV music community so that everyone involved in the music industry, regardless of the music genre they play, has a chance to be heard in more stages around the DMV area. This is also part of the reason why I joined DCMS, because I believe that united we create a stronger community and a better music experience for people who love and enjoy music as much as we do.
#HispanicHeritageMonth on Instagram
As a way to acknowledge the Hispanic and Latino music community during #HispanicHeritageMonth, DCMS is highlighting well-known local Latino artists/bands on Instagram (@dcmusicsummit) throughout the month to celebrate.
We will also be hosting a #DCMS Concert Series Fundraiser featuring Domino Saints in November. The fundraiser will help raise money for the virtual 2021 DC Music Summit, so we can continue the work of empowering our DMV community to thrive in the evolving music industry. The concerts will be streamed live on DMCS’ Facebook Page and the band’s YouTube channel. We will also have a special DJ guest. Stay tuned for more information!
*Son jarocho ("Veracruz Sound") is a regional folk musical style of Mexican Son from Veracruz, a Mexican state along the Gulf of Mexico. The instruments most commonly associated with son jarocho are the jarana jarocha, a small guitar-like instrument used to provide a harmonic base, with some double strings arranged in a variety of configurations.
*Vallenato (Spanish pronunciation: [baʝeˈnato]), is a popular folk music genre of Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato music is Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, according to UNESCO.
The traditional instruments of Vallenato are: the caja vallenata: a small drum held between the knees and played with bare hands. It was used by the African slaves brought by the Europeans. the guacharaca: a wooden, ribbed stick similar to a sugar cane, accompanied by a fork that when rubbed together emits a scraping sound. the accordion: three-line button, German-origin accordion. It has three reeds per note and comes in different tones: ADG, GCF, and BbEbAb
*Cumbia [ˈkumbja] is a folkloric genre and dance from Colombia. Since 1940s, commercial or modern colombian cumbia expanded to the rest of Latin America, after which it became popular throughout the continent following different commercial adaptations, such as Argentine cumbia, Bolivian cumbia, Chilean cumbia, cumbia Dominican, Ecuadorian cumbia, Mexican cumbia, Peruvian cumbia, Salvadoran cumbia, Uruguayan cumbia, and Venezuelan cumbia, among others. The three drums common to traditional cumbia are: tambora (for deep bass rhythms), tambor alegre or mid-drum (used for backup rhythm), and llamador (also providing backbeat)