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21 Days of Musica Latina: Cuba

Daymé Arocena
Courtesy of the artist
Daymé Arocena

Editor's Note: To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month this year, World Cafe is going on a musical tour of Latin America. Every weekday from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we'll spotlight the music of a different Latin American country with a curated playlist of essential tracks, fresh voices and wild cards.

Arguably one of the richest sources of Latin America's musical heritage, the sounds of Cuba are instantly recognizable and altogether enrapturing.

There's almost too many genres of Cuban music to list here: mambo, timba, son cubano, charanga, rumba. The list goes on and on. Today's mix includes some of the titans of those various genres, including Celia Cruz, Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Pérez Prado and Daymé Arocena.

Speaking of Ferrer and Portuondo, we had to include the Buena Vista Social Club and their eponymous debut album on this mix. The album won heaps of praise when it was released in 1997, and it's credited with bringing a fresh wave of mainstream love for Cuban son, danzón and other Cuban rhythms.

There are also nods to cubaton, or reggaeton with a Cuban flair, with artists like El Taiger. We also had to include French sister duo Ibeyi, who — despite leaving Havana as babies — still infuse their music with Afro-Cuban elements.

Enjoy, and make sure you come back next week to find out where World Cafe's headed next.

Copyright 2023 XPN

Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez is a radio producer for NPR's World Cafe, based out of WXPN in Philadelphia. Before that, he covered arts, music and culture for KERA in Dallas. He reported on everything from the rise of NFTs in the music industry to the enduring significance of gay and lesbian bars to the LGBTQ community in North Texas.