Five legends of Latin music have been honoured with a commerative U.S postage stamp that went on sale this week. The vividly designed stamps depict Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Selena, Carlos Gardel and Carmen Miranda. The legends were chosen to represent a range of Latin styles including tango, salsa, tejano and Latin jazz. The stamps themselves are brightly coloured portraits of each musician mid-performance. The project’s art director, Ethel Kessler explains the vivid designs, ‘My goal was that when you see the stamp, you hear the music’. An ambitious undertaking indeed.
The gesture has been widely publicised as a positive signal; an acknowledgment of the deep influences of Hispanic musical heritage upon American culture. But the action has also come under some criticism. Juan Flores, professor of Latino Studies at New York University has criticised the choice of representatives immortalised in the stamp series, ‘Do Latinos do anything but entertainment and sports?’ An interesting debate ensures; do the stamps represent a stereotype of Latin culture or are they a just and timely tribute to some of the greatest stars of an important genre? Aside from such discussions, the selection of musicians portrayed in the latest stamp series certainly includes some of the most dazzling performers of Latin music.
You can listen to some of the artists featured on the stamps on these albums:
The Rough Guide to Tito Puente
The Rough Guide to Tango Revival : Bonus CD by Carlos Gardel