Latinotrendsetter

What You Didn’t Know about Celia Cruz

celia 3

Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, or for short Celia Cruz, was one of the most accomplished singers of the 20th century. Hailing from humble beginnings in the poor neighborhood of Santos Suarez in Havana, Cuba, her mother knew immediately that she was destined to be a singer.

It was on the radio in diverse Santos Suarez where Cruz would grow up listening to all types of music. Rumba, mambo, guaracha, bolero, cha-cha, salsa and son cubano was apart of her musical education. As a youth Cruz and her sister were taken to cabarets to sing by their aunt. At radio stations, Cruz sang tango “Nostalgias” (unrequited love songs) to win cakes during the “Hora del Te” broadcast, often coming first place.

Her piercing and powerful voice carried a great warmth. At a music conservatory, her own professor took notice of it and told her to drop out and let her talent shine as she was already gaining momentum on the radio for her recorded and live performances in the late 1940s.

Her vocal style was distinctive because it incorporated pregon, the wails of street vendors (usually fishmongers and peanut vendors). As an Afro-Cubana, her early music was influenced by santeria (Cuban blend of Christian and traditional African religious music) songs which used the religious African dialect of Lucumi.

After leaving school she was the singer for a dance group, Las Mulatas del Fuego. In 1950 she was the lead singer of Sonora Matancera, one of the most prominent Cuban orchestras. But that didn’t come easy, because when she joined Sonora, she was replacing a previous singer and she had to gain the public’s support. By her bandmates sticking up for her, Cruz eventually became well love not only in Cuba, but throughout all of Latin America. Slowly, she was becoming the leading female voice of modern salsa at a time when the music was dominated by men.

Soon, Cruz’s life will change forever, for better and for worst in the early 1960s. While travelling with Matancera in Mexico, Fidel Castro came to power turning Cuba into a communist country. With all but one bandmember refusing to go back under such a regime, Castro issued them a lifetime ban. Over a year later she would take up residency in New Jersey and marry Matancera trumpet player Pedro Knight.

In the mid 1960s, she followed the New York music scene which had musicians from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of salsa, she also sang guaracha and all the other types of Latin music she grew up listening to. This was a time of experimentation when many artists would blend and mix many different musical styles and perform with musicians from different styles of music.

By the 1970s, Cruz made music with Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, and the Fania AllStars. She had a catch phrase, Azucar, which she used to energize her audience and band. Also, she became a fashion icon because of her bold, daring, and wild costumes and wigs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she performed and was featured on songs with Wyclef Jean, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, and David Byrne. By the early 2000s, The Celia Cruz Foundation was created in order to help impoverished students that wanted to study music.

Celia Cruz made music until her death from brain cancer in 2003. Within the 55 years that she made music, she released 75 albums, 23 of which went gold. Throughout her career, Cruz was honored as the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, and the Queen of Latin Music.

Fun Facts

  • She was awarded an American National Medal of the Arts
  • For the 2015-2016 TV lineup, Telemundo will have a musical drama about The Queen of Salsa
  • While with La Sonora Matancera, Cruz and the group appeared in five motion pictures
  • She sang the spot for WQBA in Miami
  • There is an exhibit in Washinton D.C. dedicated to her

 

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Opening Up Doors to Better Opportunities at Hostos

When Sandy Guido left Honduras at 18-years-old in 2008 to live in New York, she immediately knew that in order to succeed in the United States that she had to pursue higher education. She chose Hostos Community College to obtain a degree in social working.

I started taking classes at Hostos Community College…I got my GED…and I chose social working because the people here helped to get to the path of going to college and I would like to do the same for people that don’t know how the system works here. Sometimes you don’t know the opportunities that you have until you learn the process.”

More importantly, she knew from her own experience as an immigrant in a new country what that meant to her.

“You are able to help people that really need your help,” said Guido.

Growing up, she knew that neither of her parents attained the level of education that they needed to get a better job in Honduras or the United States. In her native country, her mother was a housekeeper and her father was a community leader. Together, both her parents work as factory workers building revolving doors.

Guido knew that she wanted more and that with a college education that she would obtain a better job. First, she went to HCC for her GED and ESL courses. Once she finished that she pursued her Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. Currently, she is on track to receiving her Bachelor’s Degree at Lehman College in June 2017, something that she believes she wouldn’t have been able to do without the help that she received from the social workers at HCC that helped her.

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I like to study because I will be the first in my family to get a Bachelor’s Degree. It makes me feel proud of myself and that I’m making my family feel proud of me.”

Not wanting to stop there, Guido also has plans to follow up her bachelor’s with another.

“Seeing myself almost finishing my bachelor’s made me realize that I can go to higher level. I will continue to go and then get my master’s…I am doing this for myself. This is an accomplishment for me.”

Guido only hopes that her story will be an inspiration for others.

If you want to get the best opportunities you have to work hard to get to the level that you want. For example, if you come here and want a better job you have to get a better education, start from the beginning. I didn’t think that I will be getting my bachelor’s, but I started from the beginning with English classes to get to where I want to be. It will take time and little by little you can do what you want in life. It’s not easy, but you will get it.”

 

Full Circle at Hostos Community College

 

Learning a new language can take years to master. For Dominican native, Madeline Santana, a recipient of the Auxiliary Police Officer Eugene Marshalik Scholarship, grasping English became a pathway to her career through Hostos Community College.

After leaving the Dominican Republic at age 10 in 1998, Santana struggled to become fluent in English even though she would speak on stage in junior high.

I focused a lot on my studies and I represented my eighth-grade class. My graduation was at Hostos Community College.”

After graduating from Stevenson High School in the Bronx with a baby Santana knew that she had to find a school that would accommodate her needs. Before she went to Hostos she attended a college that was more focused on getting her into as many classes as possible and simply graduating, but at Hostos University she found something different.

“The school was very flexible towards my needs. I cannot complain about that school at all. It’s a very good school. They focus on the student’s needs.”

Learn more about opportunities at Hostos continuing education programs

When she started heading to Hostos Community College, Santana was simply taking remedial reading, writing and speaking courses in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses without anything else in mind. However, she soon came to love the school and found her passion.

After that, I went to take my career courses…I basically love the fact that I’m helping patients improve their health…in advising them how to take their medication I feel good. I love helping others.

Not only did she attend school as a young mother, but she volunteered as an auxiliary police officer for three years.

“I would patrol the city of New York and cover events like parades…and events that they have for the community.”

In 2015, Santana earned a Pharmacy Technician’s Certificate and then received a part-time position at the Bronx Lebanon Special Care Center. Next, she will be joining Kingsbrooke Jewish Medical Center full-time, but she is not done yet.

I would like to go to pharmacy school…I want my daughter to know to never give up…and know I did my best to give her a better future.”

To doing a speech in her eighth-grade class to becoming a graduate of Hostos Community College, Madeline Santana has truly come full circle.

 

CHiPs Gets a Facelift

By Movieweb.com

Photo by Movieweb.com

The classic 70s show, CHiPs, a police procedural following the lives of two California Highway Patrolmen will get an R-rated silver screen facelift next year.

Leading the new cast will be Michael Peña of Ant-Man (2014) and The Martian (2015) fame. Peña will take up the role of Frank “Ponch” Poncharello, the flirtatious and troublemaking motorcycle cop that was originally played by Erik Estrada.

The straight man to Peña’s Ponch will be Dax Shepard who starred in the television series Parenthood (2010-2015) and will be playing stick-in-the-mud Jon Baker.

Also in the film are Adam Rodriguez and Arturo del Puerto.

CHiPs will hit theaters March 24, 2017.

 

Lip Sync to 24K Magic

If you are a big fan of lip-syncing and Bruno Mars, you are in for a treat. Musical.ly, a social media video app will allow you to lip sync to Mars’ new hit song 24K Magic.

This comes just two days after the crooner’s new album flew off the shelves with its strongest numbers yet by moving 231,000 units and placing at number two on the Billboard 200 album chart on Nov. 28.

The album is also number one on the Top Digital Albums chart with 400 million streams so far.

Enjoy this clip of Bruno Mars lip-syncing to smash hit single below.

 

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Have No Love for Fidel

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz

When it comes to politics, this year proved to be historic in many ways.

A businessman that had no experience holding public office became the president of the United States.

Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominee of a major party and Bernie Sanders  was the first Jewish candidate to receive serious backing for the highest office in America for the Democratic Party.

However, the Republican Party also had two Hispanic contenders that had a strong chance of becoming commander and chief of the United States in Cuban Americans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Earlier this year in March, President Obama also announced an end to the Cuban embargo, which has slowly been coming to an end, but that might very well change with Trump’s presidency.

Nothing has been more momentous than the recent death of Fidel Castro.

His timely passing comes after half of the Cuban-American population in Florida helped to decide who will become the new leader of their country after being angered by President Obama’s decision to start to lift the embargo, a right they would have been denied if in Cuba.

Of course, this led to many Americans across the country wondering what the two most famous Cuban political candidates in the United States most recent history had to say.

With both Cruz and Rubio having immigrant parents that fled Castro’s rule in Cuba, it wasn’t hard to guess.

Both were angered by Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s condolences to the Castro family and lack of acknowledgment to his political crimes.

Pathetic.”

That was one word that Rubio used to describe Obama’s statement to the Cuban people.

There are thousands upon thousands of people who suffered brutally under Castro’s regime. He executed people, he jailed people for 20 to 30 years. The Florida Straits…there are thousands of people who lost their lives fleeing his dictatorship.”

Rubio was not alone in his sentiments towards Castro, as Cruz tweeted his disgust towards both the dictator and Trudeau who praised el Comandante’s power as an orator over the island nation.

Disgraceful. Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot — all evil, torturing murderers.”

Rubio also had choice words for the young Canadian Prime Minister admiration for Fidel.

Shameful and embarrassing.”

 

 

 

J. Lo and Marc Anthony back at it again

Photo by San Diego Info News

Photo by San Diego Info News

The divorced parents of the adorable twins Max and Emme, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, couldn’t quite get enough of each other and have made the decision to move forward and put aside their differences to make sweet, sweet music together of course.

The multitalented Lopez has plans on making a new Spanish album, and who better to executive produce it than Anthony, the King of tropical salsa who has five Latin Grammys to his name.

This will be her second Spanish album and her ninth overall. Her last album, A.K.A. was in 2014.

Currently, she is filming the second season of the drama Shades of Blue, which she stars and executive produce. Shades second season will most likely debut in early 2017.

Marc Anthony will be on his Vivir Mi Vida world tour from Nov. 7-Dec. 4 for his 13th album 3.0, which came out in 2013.

 

 

 

Aarón Sánchez : No Longer in his Mother’s Shadow

Photo by Naeisha Rose

Photos by Naeisha Rose

Chef Aarón Sánchez, of “Iron Chef” fame, may be one of the most celebrated Mexican-American culinary experts around the world, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that he decided to make dishes celebrating his Mexican roots.

Like many cooks, the Iron Chef’s love for cooking came from his family.

“My story is not so strange from many Latin families,” says Sánchez. “I grew up in a household where food is central. That is the way we commune,” says Sánchez.

Guests anticipating third course.

Guests anticipating the third course.

As a child, Sánchez’s family lived off the land and spent time taking care of animals on the isolated parts of Chihuahua, Mexico, and cooking became the pastime for his family.

“I had three aunts and they rode horses every day and they took care of cattle and my grandmother would cook. That is where the love of cooking was born, with my mom and my aunts,” says the television personality.

For the budding food connoisseur, home life in Chihuahua didn’t always remain idyllic, but things did change for the better.

As I grew up we moved from Mexico to Texas and I really started to grasp how important food was for us as a family. My mom became a caterer and social worker, divorced my daddy when I was three and took me and my twin brother in the catering van to El Paso. With just an opportunity and a job, she ended up becoming the most recognized Mexican chef in the country, all through hard work and recreating the food she grew up eating as a child.”

chef aaron3 - Naeisha Rose

Despite being inspired by his mom, Zarela Martinez, as she transitioned from a caterer to a chef and then restaurateur of the famous Café Marimba in New York, Sánchez knew he had to fly the coup to seek out his own path in the food world.

As a young man, I felt the absolute need to separate myself from my mom’s shadow. That is why I started to embrace other Latin foods like Peruvian, South American, and Caribbean dishes. That became a lot of my focus so I could establish my own identity culinarily. I remember that being an early motivation early on in my career, and that is why I worked in the kitchen at Patria with Douglas Rodriguez right here in New York. It was the first Latin restaurant to ever get three stars and I was a part of that.”

After traveling throughout the United States and abroad Sánchez felt that he was finally ready to make food from his home country of Mexico.

“I guess when I moved to New Orleans a year ago…and studied enough, I felt it suffice for me to tackle Mexican food as a genre. I didn’t want to tackle that food unless I was prepared, and now that I’m in my 40s I felt like it was time,” says Sánchez.

quail on table2- Naeisha Rose

As a chef, trying out new and different ingredients to put a spin on an old recipe have been one of Sánchez’s favorite things to do, and that is why his collaboration with Grapes from California, a community of grape growers, remains a fruitful one.

This is the second year that Grapes from California worked with chef Aarón. It is always our mission that we find chefs that not only have a passion for cooking but a passion for grapes. It’s very evident whenever we work with chef Aarón, that it is more than just a dish that he is creating, he is creating a meal,” says Jeff Klitz, a representative with the California Table Grape Commission.

Jeff Klitz, California Table Grape Commission

Jeff Klitz, California Table Grape Commission

It is not only Sánchez’s mission to make great meals but to use food picked according to proper labor laws.

“As parents, we always struggle to find fresh food in the cold months…Grapes from California are actually available from May to January,” says Sánchez. “I’ve seen how these grapes are grown and the practices behind how they are harvested, which is important to me, so they are just doing it the right way, you know,” he adds.

In Soho, Chef Sánchez made scallop ceviche with red grapes, Yucatan-styled red snapper with green grapes and grilled quail with black grapes for guests.

Ceviche and Red Snapper

 

“He is finding nuances with every ingredient. It is a great pairing because Grapes from California are very versatile and you can use them as snacks, in salads, in meals, but he finds ways that we haven’t even thought of because he is chef Aarón,” says Klitz.

When asked which meal was his favorite, Klitz responded, “that’s like what do you like better, winning the lottery or having immortality.”

To get the recipes to Chef Sánchez’s three meals you can go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.

Star Wars Casting Update

Photo by Televisa.com

Photo by Televisa.com

The name and description of Diego Luna’s Star Wars character have finally been revealed.

The stunning Mexican actor will be playing Captain Cassian Andor, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Luna’s casting in the franchise adds to the diversity of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story cast and further increases the presence of Hispanic actors in the rebooted intergalactic franchise.

As Andor, Luna will be the straight shooter that has a bit of an edge to him. During his leadership, he will try to be the one that calms Felicity Jones’ protagonist, the reckless former thief turned Rebel soldier, Jyn Erso, and help her steal the plans for the Death Star, which is seen in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

In addition to being steady, Andor is described as world-weary and strategic, which isn’t surprising considering the 19 years of battle he would of have to survive to become a captain between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

 

Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company’s Grand Opening

Picture provided by Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company

Picture provided by Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company

On Saturday, July 30th on 70th East 4th Street,  the Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company will have a grand opening.

Alpha Omega has been providing a platform for dancers and choreographers of color to showcase their love of the art for over 44 years. However, since 1972, the dance company did not have its own studio, until now. Thanks to new leadership under its new Artistic Director Enrique Cruz DeJesus, the company was able to raise over $ 4 million dollars towards having its own building.

We use to rent space from different locations. We were a struggling organization that tried to do good for the community, for kids and we are a professional dance company,” said DeJesus.

After joining the Fourth Art Block, a 13 organization art coalition, the different members were able to set aside seven buildings for their different programs.

We did an average of two to three fundraisers a year, we wrote grants to the Department of Cultural Affairs, Rosie Mendez, Margarita Lopez, and the Mayor’s Office,” he adds.

At the new studio, choreographers will teach salsa, Argentine tango, and musical theater. Wellness classes include yoga and pilates. There will be educational classes for kids and teens. There will also be something for adults that want to become professional dancers too.

Thirty years ago, before DeJesus became the artistic director of Alpha Omega he was just a young man that was encouraged to go to one of their dance classes by a friend.

I was a short order cook working at a restaurant, the Bonfire Grill in Forest Hills, and my friend named Lamont was a dancer,” says DeJesus.

After joining dance classes with Lamont, DeJesus knew that he was meant to be a dancer. Since that first dance class, he has been in shows like “Jesus Christ Super Star, ” and toured in “Dreamgirls.” As a choreographer, he has created over 60 pieces. He was even nominated for a Drama Desk award.

Artists art not born. They are chosen. They are chosen in a way that you see this as the thing that you are going to be doing. I’ve been a part of that community, I’ve been a part of that family. I feel that I have found my calling and I have not ever looked back since.

DeJesus and his dance company will continue to make waves this summer by closing out the first ever Jamaica Dance Festival in Rufus King Park on August 13th. The festival is free and open to the public.