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Afro-Latino Songs from Smithsonian Folkways

When Africans were enslaved and brought to the Americas, they contributed to and helped shape Latin America’s wide array of musical traditions. Africans brought musical traits such as collective participation in music-making, call-and-response singing, and dense rhythms played on drums. Today, these initial traditions have been altered by the conditions subsequent generations have encountered in the Americas. New social structures (distinctions between slaves and free people of African descent, symbolic festivals, labor relations), religions (Santería, Christianity, and Vodou), and dances (waltz, steel bands, samba, congo) are manifestations of the dynamic and ongoing mixture of old and new musical elements. From Puerto Rican to Uruguayan, the music here showcases and highlights this synergy of musical traditions.