My husband is trying to educate me in the ways of American pop culture before the 1970s, which is when my parents arrived in the United States. I confess that I didn’t know who the Beatles were until I was a teenager. I’d never heard Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin. And folk music by pop icon Bob Dylan makes me cringe. Hearing my mother blast Julio Iglesias, Gloria Trevi or Gloria Estefan, for that matter, also made me groan. I didn’t want to know anything about Hispanic music. It was too embarrassing to be anything but “a typical American kid.”
But then as a teenager, I stumbled upon the Alanis Morrisette of the Latino set while flipping through the channels on our little TV set. She had dark, unruly curly black hair that blew wild around her as she rocked her head to the music. She wore tight-fitting, rocker girl clothes that wore more “punk” than “sex vixen.” She spun her Spanish phrases so fast that they left me dizzy. Her name? Shakira. This was Shakira before she shimmed her hips into the American market with a little belly dancing and blond locks. I started searching for her music on the radio. I found her and played her over and over and over again as I did Nirvana and No Doubt tunes.
Shakira was gateway drug, a doorway into my education in the ways of Latino music. From there, I went on to discover Marc Antony, Enrique Iglesias, Luis Miguel, Juanes and (since I had grown up under a rock) Santana. Thanks to Shakira (and okay, a little help from my Latino lovin’ Russian friend, Igor), I found myself rocking out in the mother tongue. But since my education is nowhere near complete and I still have a ways to go, I’ll take recommendations for downloads to my Ipod.