Monday, July 5, 2010

Growing up in Latin Manhattan

I was just a 10-year old kid living in a community near Spanish Harlem in New York City when I got my first taste of Latino culture. I was inspired to learn Spanish by my Puerto Rican neighbors and fell in love with salsa music as a teen. It never dawned on me until well into my adulthood that those percussion intruments carrying those hot rhythms and saucy call-and-response voice arrangements have their roots in Western Africa, just like the blues, jazz, and R&B.

This album by the Joe Cuba Sextet pushed me over the edge in my love for Latin Music

After a couple of years, I became discouraged trying to learn Spanish because so many of my Puerto Rican peers spoke good English and were quick to respond in English even though I may have spoken to them in Spanish. It wasn't until my adult years when my desire to speak Spanish resurfaced and began practicing with monolingual Spanish-speaking immigrants, and even started traveling to Spanish-speaking countries.

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