“…analyzing musical afromestizaje among Black and Chicana/o subjects, in particular allows for a fuller understanding of the interconnections among communities on the margins of society in the United States.”
Celia Cruz (1925- 2003) will be forever known as the “Queen of Salsa” and “La Guarachera de Cuba.” Her music is inspired by not only the sounds of Caribbean and Latino music but also African music. Her trademark catchphrase, Azucar, meaning sugar in Spanish hold more historical significance than what most people know. When Celia Cruz cried out Azucar during her performances she make a reference to the African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean to work on the sugar plantations.
Above is a performance of Quimbara by Celia Cruz. Quimbara is indeed an African word, for what the word means I am not sure, but it does represent one of the many songs that showcases African influence in Celia Cruz’s music. I mention Celia Cruz because I was reminded of her and her music while reading the article, “Squeezebox Poetics: Locating Afromestizaje in Esteban Jordan’s Texas Conjunto Performance” by Marco Cervantes.
In the article, Marco Cervantes observes the performances of Esteban Jordan (1939-2010), a conjunto artist, using an Afromestizaje lens. This approach observes the fusion of African American and Mexican American cultural expressions in social spaces. His argument is that Jordan “engages in afro-mestizo performance and displays blackness as a component of Tex-Mex culture” by blending the blues, soul, and jazz genres with conjunto and ranchero music styles which all represents class and a history of two marginalized groups in the United States in the mid twentieth century. By blending different styles of music, Esteban Jordan and other artists, challenged the music industry’s tradition of labeling music by race.
My problem with the article is that I feel that Cervantes limits the approach to just only analyzing Mexican-American and Tejano music, he stated that he only employs the approach to observe fusions within Mexican American and African American cultural expressions despite the quote above, Cervantes doesn’t state or allude to how we can apply this approach to other racial groups that are marginalized in the United States. I also feel that this approach could also be applied to examine other kinds of Latino music that exist in various Latino cultures such as reggaeton, which became popular in the early 2000s. You can also use this approach to look at other Latino or African American artists today who are crossing genres.
What do you think of extending the approach to artists outside of the Tejano and other Mexican American genres?
 Marco Cervantes, “Squeezebox Poetics: Locating Afromestizaje in Esteban Jordan’s Texas Conjunto Performance,” American Quarterly 65 (December 2013): 856.
 IBID, 860.
 IBID, 860.