Music Scholar Finds Commonalities In American, Latin Culture | WGLT

Music Scholar Finds Commonalities In American, Latin Culture

Nov 16, 2018

In a time when immigrants are painted as illegal invaders and something to be feared, Adriana Martinez studies how music ties American and Mexican culture together.

Martinez is an assistant professor of music at Eureka College. Born in Mexico City, Martinez specializes in American music and how various genres form a sense of national identity.

"If music teaches us anything, it's that when we sit down and listen, really listen to each other, that's where the conversation can start, at least."

“The influence of Latin music, generally, on American music comes, really, since the 19th century,” she said. “So this is a very long process that has been happening of cultural influence back and forth.”

She studies how music can help address the cultural barriers built between the U.S. and its southern neighbor.

“The Latin influence is already so embedded in our music and we don’t even know it. And so those Afro-Caribbean rhythms, particularly ... They have been part of our music for a long time and we associate them with fun things, like dancing.”

She noted how finding shared interest in music over cultures allows people to create bonds with others they might not think they have much in common with.

She uses the popular 2017 song "Despacito" and the version recorded by Justin Bieber to outline the shared culture, and note how even American fans sing along to the Latin chorus.

“If music teaches us anything, it’s that when we sit down and listen, really listen to each other, that’s where the conversation can start, at least,” Martinez said.

She said whether that conversation leads to change in policy is up to those in positions of power.

Martinez spoke at ISU as part of the Latino Heritage Month celebration.

You can also listen to the full interview:

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