Latin American Songs of Protest
with Rubén Blades
Offered in partnership with The New-York Historical Society
Monday, December 15, 2014

Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s was plagued with dictators. Because the mainstream media was censored, dissent moved underground, and music was a particularly potent form of protest. This Master Class, which will be conducted in Spanish, examines protest songs written by Rubén Blades and other Latin American composers. We will consider the historical contexts that gave birth to them as well as how this music helped pave the way for the many left-leaning governments we see in Latin America today.

Rubén Blades has had an unusual life and an impressive career. Born and raised in Panama, Blades graduated from Panama’s National University of Law and Political Science Faculty before becoming a full-time musician, songwriter, actor, and activist. He also graduated from Harvard School of Law in 1985 and once ran (unsuccessfully) for the office of President of Panama. Blades’ music is most often associated with Afro-Cuban salsa and Latin jazz and his lyrics with politically inspired Nuyorican salsa. He has composed dozens of musical hits, including “Pedro Navaja”, “El Cantante” and “Patria,” which many Panamanians consider their second national anthem. He is the winner of ten Grammy awards.