It's time to continue our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Last week we visited the worlds of visual arts and literature. This week we will continue our journey by the looking at the contributions of two very notable cultural ambassadors of the stage and microphone.
Many of you may know that I am a 'Halfy.' I love being of mixed heritage because it has given me the opportunity to draw from two amazing cultures. Another great contributor to the achievements of Hispanic people, Chita Rivera is also a mixed ethnic background. Chita was born in DC, to a Puerto Rican father and Scottish/Italian mother. At 11, Chita started taking ballet, and by 15 she was accepted to the American School of Ballet. Before the age of 20, Chita appeared on Broadway. She landed the hit role of Anita in West Side Story, the story of lovers from two different worlds. Not too many years later, my own mother came to America and moved to Washington Heights. She fell in love with my father, who was of a different ethnicity. She always jokes that that play provided the soundtrack to her early years in America.
Rita went on to be the original Triple Threat. She appeared in cameos and small roles in television shows and movies. She even recorded several albums. Chita recieved the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Earlier this year Chita was the Grand Marshal of NY's Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Music has provided the soundtrack to freedom movements around the globe. The history of many Latin America nations is steeped in political upheaval. Silvio Rodriguez has played an important role as voice of the people throughout these revolutions. Rodriguez is a Cuban born composer, singer, and poet. Born in the mid 1940s, he was just a teenager when Castro came into power. Silvio became interested in the Leftist views. Around that time he began playing the guitar. Rodriguez began associating with Casa De Las Americas, a cultural institution that aimed to create a Latin American cultural exchange.
For over 30 years, Rodriguez has sang songs of idealism, romance, andexistentialism. He has explored major themes of humanity and provided a voice for so many as they navigate their own expierence. With over 20 albums released, and numerous book of poetry, he continues to captivate audiences with his prolific lyricism.