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These Latina Muses Will Reinspire You And Remind You How Incredible We Really Are

In media, Latinas have been stereotypically cast as housekeepers or spicy vixens — which is extremely frustrating because we know we are much more than that. We know from our own experience that Latinas have a history of breaking barriers on a wide range scale. If you or your little nieces need a reminder or how powerful Latinas really are, here are nine Latinas who have made history and continue to inspire us:

Ellen Ochoa

When my mom would catch me daydreaming, she used to snap at me and say “¡estás en la luna!” which makes me wonder if Ellen Ochoa’s mom used to say that to her because Ellen ended up making it into outer space. In 1993, the Los Angeles-born Mexican-American became the first Latina to go to space. But her legacy doesn’t end there. In 2013 she became the first Latina and second female director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, furthermore paving the way not only for women of color but also for women of color in STEM. 

Sonia Sotomayor

Nuyorican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina Justice in history and the definition of perseverance. She was raised in a single-parent household in which only limited English was spoken. She then went on to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton before going on to Yale Law School. She worked her way from District Court Judge to becoming the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. At the time of her swearing-in, people criticized her for wearing red nails and red lips but little did they know that she was inspiring another politically savvy Latina to showcase her Latina pride…

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera is one of those silent sheroes that we didn’t learn about in school. The Venezuelan-Boricua trans woman made a huge impact in LGBTQ rights. In fact, she is often credited as the person responsible for making sure the T is present in LGBTQ. As if that weren’t already a lot to accomplish, it is believed she started the infamous Stonewall Riot with Marsha P. Johnson that launched LGBTQ rights movement in the 1960s. Her story is truly remarkable and you can learn all about her here.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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A year ago I was waitressing in a restaurant while organizing my community. In a time and place where we had been burned by so many politicians, and had grown deservedly cynical of the sad, familiar cycle of campaign promises and governance excuses, I was asking them, just once, to believe. . It was really hard, because how do you make that case? How to ask someone whose trust has been violated over and over to believe you? To believe in the movement for justice and economic dignity? . You show up. You give unconditionally. You show up when no one is looking and the cameras are off. You offer support when it’s risky, but necessary. You do it over and over again, without a need for recognition or expectation that you are “owed” something for doing the right thing. You just… engage in the act of loving your community. . Never in my wildest dreams did I think that those late nights on the 6 & 7 trains would lead to this. All this attention gives me a lot of anxiety (my staff fought to get me to agree to this cover, as I was arguing against it), and still doesn’t feel quite real, which maybe is why I remain comfortable taking risks, which maybe is a good thing. . I believe in an America where all things are possible. Where a basic, dignified life isn’t a dream, but a norm. . That’s why I got up then, and it’s why I get up now. Because my story shouldn’t be a rare one. Because our collective potential as a nation can be unlocked when we’re not so consumed with worry about how we’re going to secure our most basic needs, like a doctor’s visit or an affordable place to live.

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Lovingly nicknamed AOC, the youngest Congresswoman ever constantly reminds us never to take shit from anyone and to display our Latinidad with pride. The former bartender started her political career as an organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign. The then 28-year-old left the Bronx, New York to help marginalized communities like Flint, Michigan. Then, in May of 2017, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat out Rep. Joe Crowley, who hadn’t faced a challenger in 14 years, to become the U.S Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district and youngest member of congress. When she was sworn in, she honored Sonia Sotomayor by proudly rocking a bold red lip and gold hoop earrings reminding a new wave of Latinas and women that we do not need to apologize for who we are. 

Selena Quintanilla-Perez

For many of us, hearing Selena speak English during interviews and sing en Español was the first time we really connected with  a celebrity who was Mexican-American — like us. Millions of music fans were lured in by her incredible vocals and seamless dance moves. In 1993 she went on to win a Grammy Award which just validated her talents to the rest of the music industry. However, we Latinos connected with her on a closer, more emotional level. She represented the same family values and her inviting smile and loud laugh she made us feel like we knew her on a personal and familial level. The life of the Tex-Mex queen was taken in 1995, prompting the world to mourn her death for decades to come. Her memory lives on in her music, museum, clothing line and products that have been released in her memory. Perhaps the most significant project to carry her memory was the “Selena” movie which also helped propel another star…

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez became a household name after starring in the role of a lifetime playing the life of Selena in the biopic of the same name. “Selena” was J.Lo’s first lead role (????) and this not only gave her worldwide recognition, but also made her the first Latina actress to earn over $1 million for a film. The Nuyorican used this new fame to set off a handful of other businesses and projects like a fashion line and dozens of albums making her the ultimate triple-threat pop star. And if you’ve ever used Google Images, you have J.Lo and that infamous Versace dress to thank. People couldn’t get enough of that plunging neckline at the 2000 Grammy Awards that everyone took to Google to try to snag another look at the dress. Google’s Executive Chairman went on to explain that this surge in interest would later lead to the invention of the Google image search. In 2012, Forbes magazine regarded her as the world’s most powerful celebrity in the world. Most powerful celebrity in the world, not even the most powerful Latina. Let that sink in. In 2020 she paved the way yet again as she and Shakira headlined the Super Bowl halftime performance. 

Celia Cruz

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#happymonday LA REINA

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We all know Celia Cruz as the Queen of Salsa, but to work her way up to the thrown, the Afro-Cubana had to leave everyone and everything behind in Cuba after Fidel Castro came into power. Some of us, or some of our parents know, that leaving your homeland is not easy by any means but Celia Cruz gave Cuban exiles and their experience a voice and a rallying cry. Her career started when even against her father’s wishes, she would sing at cabarets. Her father’s strong opposition to her career as a singer took over for a minute and she started attending school to become a literature teacher. Eventually her passion for music would drive her to become one of the most important singers in the world. Celia Cruz was exhaled from her beloved Cuba by Fidel Castro and was not allowed to enter her home country. She brought her talents to the United States where she established herself as an icon winning countless Grammy Awards and accolades. During a trip to Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. territory in Cuba, she gathered Cuban soil and brought it back with her to the U.S. That same soil was buried with her in 2003 after dying from brain cancer at the age of 77. 

Cardi B

Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar is the true rags to riches story. Now known to us as Cardi, the Afro-Latina and her family grew up in the South Bronx and spent a lot of time with her paternal grandfather in Washington Heights. And when we say her story is a rags to riches story, we mean it. She didn’t grow up wealthy by any means and she joined the Bloods when she was 16 years old. She got her first job in a supermarket in Lower Manhattan. Her manager then fired her several years later and told her she should become a stripper. Her next thought must’ve been “damn right” because when she was 19, she started stripping and says doing so saved her life. She was in an abusive relationship and this new occupation gave her financial independence. Cardi used some of her stripping money to go back to community college and officially retired early and jumped into her next career venture, “Love & Hip Hop”. Here, she became known as the hot-tempered loud mouth of the group but she did use her voice and platform to educate people on what it means to be Afro-Latina. On the show she also launched her rapping career and officially took herself to riches. 

Frida Kahlo 

The now-famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was not appreciated during her time and simply known as Diego Rivera’s wife. She was a visionary artist born on July 6th, 1907 and passed on July 13, 1954. She lived a short, but eventful, 47 years of life. While Kahlo lived in Paris, New York and San Francisco, Kahlo is known for being fiercely proud of her Mexican heritage. Frida was in a terrible accident when she was 18 years old that caused her tremendous pain and often became the focal point of her artwork. She was boarding a bus with her boyfriend when the bus collided with a train and burst into a thousand pieces and sent a handrail through her torso. While bedridden, Frida Kahlo began painting documenting her painful recovery process. After a trip to Paris where she fell in love with an openly bisexual female singer, Frida also became a queer and feminist icon who loved to wear suits. Today, her art which explored ahead-of-her-time questions of gender, identity has resonated with the masses around the world. 

To celebrate International Women’s Month, the mitú Shop has designed this limited edition tee that honors all of these incredible Latinas. Click here to shop this top-selling tee.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Courtesy of Timothy Pollard

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

UNIVERSAL MUSIC LATIN

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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