President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome the 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees to the White House this Sunday, December 8, where they will applaud and thank them for their musical contributions to the world. Amongst the five honorees, two of the artists being recognized are Latinos: acclaimed musician Carlos Santana and renowned soprano opera singer Martina Arroyo.
The selection of Carlos Santana and Martina Arroyo represent the rising national influence of Latin music and the Latino community. Música Latina, is known for its diversity, marked by its longstanding traditions and continuous creativity. Music has always been central to the Latino culture, a tradition that can be seen in towns and cities across America. As the Latino population in the US grows, so does the fusion of Latino rhtyms in mainstream music from radio stations to the billboard charts.
There is no question that the First Family likes to groove to the Ritmo Latino. At this year’s Música Latina Workshop, the First Lady said about the genre: “Now, the percussive beats and the buoyant melodies from these songs come just – from just about everywhere. You’ll learn they come from the Caribbean and Mexico, and from Central and South America, and also even from Africa and Europe. And when you put all of that together, you can’t help but move to that music.”
Every year the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts recognizes artists for their lifetime of contributions to American culture through the performing arts – whether in dance, opera, theatre, music, motion pictures or television. The honorees are handpicked by the Executive Committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees, who in the selection process looks primarily for excellence and both Carlos Santane and Martina Arroyo certainly fit the bill.
The Honorees will be seated with the President and First Lady and will be saluted by performers at the Kennedy Center on Sunday. The Gala will be broadcast on CBS on December 29, 2013 at 9:00-11:00 p.m. (ET/PT).
Katherine Vargas is the Director of Hispanic Media for the White House