'El Tiny' x Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 A Tiny Desk Takeover
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'El Tiny' x Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

A Tiny Desk Takeover

On Alt.Latino, the weekly podcast I've hosted for 11 years, we like to say every month is Hispanic Heritage Month. But we've amped things up a bit between the 15th of September and the 15th of October each year — and 2021 marks the grandest production yet.

This year we're presenting an unprecedented display (for NPR, at least) of Latin music via our takeover of the Tiny Desk (home) concerts series. And while we are kicking it off with reggaetón superstar J Balvin (yes, J Balvin performed a Tiny Desk), this is more than just entertainment. One of the foundational principles of Alt.Latino is my strong belief that music can be a sociological snapshot when it comes to communities with a direct or historical connection to Latin America.

Genres and cultural inspirations are blended and blurred in just about all of the performers on our list. Eme Alfonso's gorgeous mix of Santería and soul, Diamante Eléctrico's mix of Afro-Colombian roots music and modern pop, are just two examples. In fact, a closer examination of J Balvin's rise reveals the transnational journey of reggaetón from the Jamaican community of Panama City to the mixtapes of Afro-Puerto Rican streets to the ex-pat communities of Brooklyn, and finally the worldwide dominance after "Despacito."

It's no accident that reggaetón's musical trail also mirrors the many paths of immigration, as people move to and fro in search of better lives in new lands or, sometimes, new neighborhoods. So many stories of Latin musicians can be traced in the same fashion, and for the next 30 days, we reach out through "El Tiny," the Alt.Latino podcast, our weekly Spotify and Apple Music playlists, and NPR's Instagram feeds to tell those stories. Enjoy.

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From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


To the beat of her swishing hips and swaying percussionists, Camila Cabello's famous "Half of my heart is in Havana" reverberates across this musician-packed Miami set, with an at-home ease that feels novel for the global popstar.

Born to a Cuban mother and Mexican father in Havana, Cuba, Cabello is no stranger to blending borders and connecting worlds. As the final performance in our Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, her El Tiny concert epitomises the cross-cultural, transnational musical identities we've centered over the course of the series. Each unique arrangement of her universal hits represents and explores a new facet of the identities and experiences that make up Cabello.

These stripped-down renditions of her hits "Havana," "Real Friends," "Señorita" and "Don't Go Yet" include more Latin instrumentation than the recordings — presumably bringing them closer to sounds that were first introduced to her as music during her childhood in Havana, Mexico City, and Miami.

The interlude featuring a sacred Afro-Cuban Santería chant and the following performance of the unreleased, Mariachi-based "La Buena Vida," firmly root Cabello's El Tiny performance within two cultural traditions that don't typically glitter under the harsh lights of a global stage.

Here, we find Camila on the precipice of a voice that magically layers pop with tradition, holding all parts of a complex identity in seamless harmony. Flanked by Cuban congueros and Mexican mariachi, all aglow under the Miami sun, Camila Cabello's heart has never felt more whole.


SET LIST

  • "Havana"
  • "Real Friends"
  • "Señorita"
  • "Don't Go Yet"
  • "La Buena Vida"

MUSICIANS

  • Camila Cabello: vocals
  • Edwin Carranza: bass/music director
  • Marcus Kincy: keys/glockenspiel
  • Chris Johnson: drums
  • Luke Iono: guitar
  • Yisel Duque: vocals
  • Jackie Mendez: vocals
  • Alex Garcia: guitar
  • Camilo Velandia: guitar
  • Daniel Lopez: percussion
  • Joel del Sol: percussion
  • Gerardo Rodriguez: trumpet
  • Mayerlin Carrero: trombone
  • Luisi "Rosca" Beltran: saxophone
  • Cheche Alara: accordion, rhodes
  • Jimmy K. Cuéllar: violín
  • Luis Zambrano: violín
  • Ángel Guzmán: violín
  • Gustavo Zambrano: violín
  • Saúl Ruiz: violín
  • Gustavo Hernández: guitarra
  • Jason Franco: vihuela
  • Albert Jimenez: guitarron
  • John Vargas: trompeta
  • Grover Castro: trompeta
  • Music Production: Cheche Alara, Ricky Reed
  • Music Director & Arranger: Cheche Alara

CREDITS

  • Video: Justin Francis
  • Audio: Lawrence Manchester
  • Video Production: Hidden Pictures
  • Camera Op: Alexandra Vivas
  • Backline Techs: Okwa Andrew, Edward Mendoza
  • Recording Engineer: Ryan Cecil
  • Playback/Recording Engineer/Editing: Mike Kopulos
  • Monitor Engineer: Taylor Holden
  • Production Manager: Chris Coffie
  • Steadicam: Zach Burgh
  • A Camera AC: Joe Ariberto
  • B Camera AC: Alex Cristofoli
  • Digital Imaging Tech: Leungson P. "Coco"
  • Gaffer: Ricardo C. Lopez
  • Grip: Brian Sills
  • Swing: Brandon Vencino
  • PA: Jonathan Ruffini
  • PA: Kevin Cuenca
  • Art Director: Luis Roman
  • Art Assistant: Joel Figueroa
  • Colorist: Marshall Palante
  • Location: Soho House Miami Music
  • Transcription: Boh Cooper

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Andy Huether
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Josh Rogosin, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
YouTube

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


Sitting next to rapper Nicki Nicole, on a stack of books, you'll see an old Sony camcorder – throughout this six-song performance we cut back to its footage every now and again, the rough texture breaking from the pristine, offering a nostalgic sense of intimacy. It's a production choice that completely works and, in a way, reflects Nicki Nicole at large, as an artist born in 2000 and with a connection to sounds and styles beyond her years.

At multiple points throughout the performance, Nicki points and beckons to the audience, inviting them into her world, her lyrics, her sound. Every track carries a certain brand of swagger whether it be the intensity of her second song "Mala Vida" or her effortless, confident freestyle. Even when she slows it down, on "Parte de Mi," strings and piano create an arresting connection between us and her – and her final song, "Baby," is a bombastic head-bopper, enhanced by her deeply groove-oriented band, which includes everything from an accordion to a mandolin.

Fittingly, Nicki Nicole has a tattoo on her neck which, in English, reads "bulls***." She has said before that the tattoo represents her need to break free of the labels applied by both her culture and industry as a young, Argentine female R&B artist. If her concert is any indication, Nicki Nicole is here to stay, while moving ever further away from any preconceived notions of her artistry – the "bulls***."

SET LIST

  • "Colocao"
  • "Mala Vida"
  • "Wapo Traketero"
  • "Parte de Mi"
  • Freestyle
  • "Baby"

MUSICIANS

  • Nicki Nicole: vocals
  • Andres Cortes: electric guitar, mandolin, guitar
  • Ayelen Zucker: vocals, percussion
  • Camila Ibarra: vocals, percussion
  • Flor Iribarne: piano
  • Jeremias Segall: drums
  • Juan Gimenez Kuj: bass, double bass
  • Lautaro Greco: bandoneón
  • Alma Quiroga: I violín
  • Natalia Cabello: II violín
  • Carla Regio: viola
  • Jacqueline Oroc: cello

CREDITS

  • Producer: Federico Lauria
  • Executive Producer: Matias Santoro, Tito Leconte / Dale Play Records
  • Video Director: Jess "La Polaca" Praznik AD: Mariana Point
  • Art Director: Juli Duich
  • Director of Photography: Patricio Deart
  • ST: Cucchi Pagani, Inés Pizarro, Mae Ludueña
  • Color: Guttcolor
  • Production and Musical Direction: Juan Gimenez Kuj, Pedro Pasquale
  • Arrangement for strings and piano "Part of me": Damian Mahler
  • Master and Mix Recording Engineer: Mariano Bilinkis
  • Recording and Editing Assistant: Manuel Cano
  • Technical Production: Martín JR Ranea
  • Monitor Engineer: Francisco Trillini

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Kara Frame
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Maia Stern, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


For a moment, it looks like YEИDRY is rising from the sea. She's barefoot and wearing yellow, like the roses on her side table tiny desk, Oshún's color. On the floor, below the seaside view, is a box of records displaying Celia & Johnny, the 1974 classic collaboration between Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco. To her right sits the 1979 album Cross Over by the Fania All Stars, of which Celia and Johnny were both starring members. From Soho Beach House in Miami, YEИDRY performs five songs, which make up most of her solo discography.

She opens with a song that's just as intimate as her space. "Nena" is a prayer sung from the perspective of her mother when she went to Italy in search of opportunity, while a young Yendry Fiorentino stayed with her grandmother in her hometown of Santo Domingo. After she turned 4, she joined her mother in Turin, where she grew up and started her music career.


YEИDRY's songs radiate with a feminine strength of many lives lived, from the sobered reflection on a past relationship of "Se Acabó" to the self-sure "Ya," a song "about the fire ... and the courage that all of us have inside. And sometimes we struggle to get it out." Its first phrase, "yo quiero to'" ("I want it all"), is an invocation of remembering who you are. In "You," her collaboration with Damian Marley, she inhabits the voices of both lovers with a seamless confidence. And in her closer, "El Diablo," she adopts even the devil's power with a slow-burning flamenco that ignites into merengue as she repeats "soy Dominicana / soy Italiana," honoring all her selves in the afternoon light.

SET LIST

  • "Nena"
  • "Se Acabó"
  • "YA"
  • "YOU"
  • "El Diablo"

MUSICIANS

  • YEИDRY: vocals
  • Danny Flores: keys
  • Jevenson Americain: bass
  • Anderson Quintero: drum pad
  • Daniel Berroa Sr.: percussion

CREDITS

  • Video: Eliam Coro, Seba Creative, Richard Quintero
  • Audio: Danny Flores, Jesús Cantun

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Kara Frame
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Maia Stern, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


After years spent working the global stage, Prince Royce returns home to claim his rightful throne in this Tiny Desk (home) concert. Performing his entire "El Tiny" set live from an unassuming barbershop chair in The Bronx, the Dominican-American superstar dazzles in this homecoming performance with the unguarded swagger characteristic of a true rey de la gente.

Prince Royce instantly grips ears and hearts with a stunning performance of "Corazón Sin Cara." Leading with buttery vocals and easy electric guitar riffs, he serves smooth verses with the kind of suave appeal that would leave any viewer wanting to be a bachata princess. Transitioning between tracks with a sweet note about representing la cultura, he dives straight in with more traditional bachata beats in a performance of his recent release "Carita de Inocente."

The barbershop is where the prince discovered the building blocks to create an empire in the image of a people and culture that feel like home. In an intimate moment between songs, Prince Royce shares that it was where he would go to hear what people were listening to in the streets — bachata, merengue, mambo. His New York Dominican sound feels natural in the space.

"Porque me recuerda a mis inicios (because it reminds me of my beginnings)," he says of his choice in stage.

From there he delivers "Lao o Lao," an impassioned song about willingly giving up lavish objects for love. He closes out the show with a performance of a tropical, legacy pick "Darte un Beso."

Prince Royce's "El Tiny" concert makes it easy to imagine a curly-haired kid sitting in that same, too-big-for-him silla, dreaming of a day when the chair would fit just right and he could come back to his barrio and own the seat as royalty.


SET LIST

  • "Corazón Sin Cara"
  • "Carita de Inocente"
  • "Lao' a Lao'"
  • "Darte Un Beso"

MUSICIANS

  • Prince Royce: vocals
  • Christopher Mercedes: bass
  • Gio Williams: guitar
  • Johan Beltre: keyboard
  • Otoniel Vargas: drums
  • Christopher Vegazo: güira
  • Wellington Flores: bongos
  • Brisila Barros: vocals

CREDITS

  • Video: Javier Cañizales, Daniel Eguren
  • Audio: Jose "Sapo" Gonzalez, Javier Delgado, Joe Lizano
  • Musical Director: Christopher Mercedes
  • Executive Producers: Mayte Calzacorta, Gaby Herrera
  • Production Manager: William Cortes
  • Assistant Director: Rafael Yanez
  • Art Department: Natacha Casafus
  • Creative Direction: Daniel Eguren, Gaby Herrera
  • Post Supervision: Pimpi Castro

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producers: Anamaria Sayre, Bobby Carter
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Kara Frame, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Sech performs onstage during the 20th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards on November 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He and Latin music star Prince Royce are among the many artists participating in NPR's "El Tiny" concert series in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS hide caption

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS

Sech performs onstage during the 20th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards on November 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He and Latin music star Prince Royce are among the many artists participating in NPR's "El Tiny" concert series in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS

NPR's El Tiny concert series is in full swing, bringing new and old fans incredible music from all over Latin America and the U.S. in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. This week, we've got two more acts to tell you about.

First up is bachata, which Felix Contreras of NPR's Alt.Latino describes as "music made for couples to dance to, up close and personal." It's driven by guitars and strong percussion.

Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s, but was censored by the government for more than 30 years. It was considered the rhythm of the lower class, and was rejected as un-Dominican.

Today, bachata has become a celebration of Dominican culture. And Prince Royce, one of the contemporary artists most known for the style, will soon release an El Tiny video concert.

Royce's style follows in the footsteps of those who helped make bachata popular. I first came to know Prince Royce through my aunt, who tried to teach me how to dance bachata to his 2010 hit "Corazón Sin Cara" and his adaptation of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me."

Since then, Royce has experimented with other sounds, too. In his double album Alter Ego, he keeps with bachata and also explores an R&B and urban sound. If you want to stick to bachata, check out "Carita de Inocente" on the Genesis side of the album and, for a more Latin-urban feel, listen to "Cúrame" (ft. Manuel Turizo) on the Enigma side.

YouTube

Another "El Tiny" to look forward to comes from the reggaeton artist Sech.

Contreras told Morning Edition's A Martínez that reggaeton was born in Panama, where Sech is from.

"J Balvin, to me, represents what reggaeton has become, while Sech represents what it was and how it remains true to its origins," he said. You can listen to A and Felix's entire conversation here.

You may have heard Sech featured in other songs, like Bad Bunny's "Ignorantes" and Nicky Jam's "Atrévete." While those are great songs, he also has his own hits.

His most recent albums 1 of 1 and 42 have plenty of those. Check out "Me Olvidé" and "Sal y Perrea," which will end up on my most-listened-to playlist.

YouTube

You can watch the other El Tiny concerts here while waiting for these to drop this week and early next.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


The first florid trills of piano wash in, and Sech is here to celebrate reggaetón in its home. The scene: the light-soaked Biblioteca de la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá Roberto F. Chiari.

Sech arrives with a book he places on the table. His blazer bears his name, the isthmus of Panama and its flag, and the likeness of Panamanian Yankee great Mariano Rivera and his jersey number, 42 (the namesake of Sech's most recent album). He approaches the mic for a silky version of "Playa" that, like the rest of his Tiny Desk set, is nearly entirely acoustic.

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Sech's discography is itself a place of learning for the Latin pop industry he has reinvigorated. The history of reggaetón often dwells disproportionately on Puerto Rico in the 1990s, overshadowing its creation by Black Panamanians in the 1980s with plena and reggae en español, born from Jamaican reggae and dancehall and iterated in Río Abajo, Sech's hometown in Panama City. "Otro Trago" introduced Sech's honeyed, melodic vocal range as a promising young player in an industry enamored with its own reductive powers. In Sech's hands, reggaetón is given the care of a people's history.

Music fills every corner of the library, from the violin-DJ-bass trio nested in the second-floor balcony, to the background vocals, keys and drums (anchoring the whole thing in lush, acoustic dembow), to Sech and his guitarist and producer Jhon el Divertido in the forefront. The sterile fluorescents among the stacks shift to disco lighting for the bitter ex-text "911," which eventually melts into an a cappella chorus. It ends on a melancholy violin riff that blooms seamlessly into the jazzy opening of "Sal y Perrea." Sech might be singing about stalking an ex's social media or pointing a newly single woman toward tequila to forget some payaso, but his modern textbook feels timeless in this hybrid arrangement, showing — as well as telling — the story of dembow and its power to heal.

SET LIST

  • "Playa"
  • "911"
  • "Sal y Perrea"

MUSICIANS

  • Sech: vocals
  • Michael Ward: DJ
  • Abdiel Morales: drums
  • Rasta Lloyd: bass
  • Jhonattan Reyes: guitar
  • Omar Perez: vocals
  • Anabel De Jesus: vocals
  • Marie Camille Alerte: vocals
  • Florlenz Alerte: vocals
  • Julio Montes: vocals
  • Joshue Ashby: violin

CREDITS

  • Video: Moises Morales, Andrés González
  • Audio: Guillermo "Memo" Bailey, Ramón González, Eduardo "Cerebro" Fernandez
  • Gaffer: Guillermo Yanguez
  • Grip: Eric González
  • Assistant Camera: Antonio Zaenz, Abdiel González
  • Backline: Ricardo "Yoshi" Castillo

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
Courtesy of the artist YouTube

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


As you gaze into the space where Cuban vocalist Eme Alfonso performs her Tiny Desk (home) concert, you enter a place where music becomes a spiritual language. So much of her history and music is centered around the Afro-Cuban spiritual practice that some know as santería. In the 1980s, her parents started Síntesis, a pioneering band that performed secular versions of that musical liturgy through electric jazz fusion. In fact, her parents, Carlos Alfonso and Ele Valdés, join her on vocals on this three-song set, which she recorded in Havana.

As with all things spiritual, it's best to start off paying homage to all things greater, which she does with a track from her 2018 album Voy, "Ayabba," a prayer sung in Yoruba and interpreted for voice and jazz trio (in this case, bassist Julio César González, pianist Jorge Aragón and drummer Oliver Valdés).

Stream The Playlist

"Libre" showcases the historic musical ties between the US and Cuba, as Alfonso's vocals reflect her love for soul and jazz. Jazz is also part of that long-standing cultural give and take, as evidenced by Aragón's masterful piano solo.

"El Bote" features the preternatural family vocal connection between Alfonso and her parents. In an interview I did with her dad Carlos Alfonso, he told me the main inspiration for the choir-like vocals of their group Sintesis were inspired by Freddie Mercury and Queen. There is a bit of those stacked harmonies in the chorus, before a propulsive drum solo by Oliver Valdés that propels the song to a dramatic close.

Eme Alfonso is representative of the kind of music that defies expectations of what Cuban music should sound like. This stop in Havana during our "El Tiny" tour of Latin music is just the tip of the iceberg of the musical riches of contemporary Cuba.

SET LIST

  • "Ayabba"
  • "Libre"
  • "El Bote"

MUSICIANS

  • Eme Alfonso: vocals
  • Ele Valdés: vocals
  • Carlos Alfonso: vocals
  • Jorge Aragón: piano
  • Oliver Valdés: drums
  • Julio César González: bass

CREDITS

  • Video: Daniel Santoyo, Mauricio Valera, Ana Rafaela Riego
  • Audio: Bosito, José Justo Enrique
  • Director of Photography: Bryan González
  • Colorist: Daniel Alemán
  • Production Assistant: Boris Sergueevich
  • Camera Operator: Carla Franco
  • Camera Operator: Luis Alberto González
  • Camera Operator: Alejandro Calero
  • Camera Assistant: Raúl Amargo
  • Gaffer: Jesús Dulfo
  • Lighting Equipment: Raydel Grizzle
  • Jonathan L. Mendoza: Lighting Technician

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Felix Contreras
  • Video Producer: Kara Frame
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Anamaria Sayre, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Maia Stern, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
Courtesy of the artist YouTube

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


Silvana Estrada's angelic first note strikes, and for a moment her family's instrument workshop in Veracruz, Mexico feels like a window to the heavens themselves.

Adorned in a white dress and a radiant smile, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist invites us to participate in a rich and varied expression of familial love and musical brilliance. She wastes no time entrancing her audience, using a stripped-down performance of "Un Día Cualquiera" — accompanied by nothing but soft claps and subtle harmonies — to showcase her impeccable vocal precision and range.

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After a sweet "Bienvenidos," Estrada picks up the Venezuelan cuatro — her most beloved magic-making tool — and jumps into a sublimely arranged, effortlessly enchanting rendition of "Tristeza." Then, halfway through "Te Guardo," something extraordinary happens: the sound of stringed instruments comes out of nowhere, and as Estrada steps away from her microphone, the camera follows, exposing a string quartet set up just off screen. After that moving reveal, Estrada takes a seat and begins to perform "Marchita," where strings, cuatro, and voice marry in indiscernible harmony.

Shifting scenes once again, Estrada moves outside and we meet her papá, armed with a double bass. Father and daughter conjure a musical manifestation of pure love with a stunning performance of "Tonada De Ordeño [El Ordeñador]." Though the traditional Venezuelan tune is a longtime favorite, this performance is different. A butterfly takes a seat on Silvana's mic and the camera zooms out to reveal the other instrumentalists in the workshop looking on in knowing admiration. Silvana's voice reverberates across the Veracruz hillside and the world exhales, basking in a fleeting moment of divinity on earth.

SET LIST

  • "Un día cualquiera"
  • "Tristeza"
  • "Te Guardo"
  • "Marchita"
  • "Tonada De Ordeño [El Ordeñador]" written by Antonio Estévez

MUSICIANS

  • Silvana Estrada: vocals, cuatro venezolano
  • Gustavo Guerrero: vocals, percussion
  • Laura Itandehui: vocals
  • Cristina Raquel Arista Estévez: cello
  • Carlos Roberto Gandara García: violin
  • Leonelys Sanchez Camacho: violin
  • Anna Arnal Ferrer: viola
  • David Estrada: vocals, double bass

CREDITS

  • Video: Julio Llorente, Jorge Tirado
  • Audio: Daniel Bitrán Arizpe, Leonel Carmona
  • Arrangements: Juanma Trujillo
  • Camera: Nicolas Grill
  • Art Direction: Jimena Estíbaliz, Laura Adan
  • Color: Esteban Robles
  • Management: Edwin Erazo

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producers: Anamaria Sayre, Bobby Carter
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Kara Frame, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Alt Latino's Latest Tiny Desk Takeover Features Female Performers

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Silvana Estrada, pictured at the 2020 Spotify Awards in Mexico City, is among the artists featured in NPR's "El Tiny" concert series for Hispanic Heritage Month. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Spotify hide caption

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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Spotify

Silvana Estrada, pictured at the 2020 Spotify Awards in Mexico City, is among the artists featured in NPR's "El Tiny" concert series for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Spotify

This week female artists from Venezuela, Mexico and Cuba take over the "El Tiny" Tiny Desk series for Hispanic Heritage Month. The artists also span different genres in the music industry.

Hear more about them in this interview with A Martinez and Alt. Latino's Felix Contreras and read some highlights about their work below.

Alt Latino's Latest Tiny Desk Takeover Features Female Performers

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First, there's my favorite artist: Silvana Estrada. She is based out of Mexico City but was raised in Veracruz. There, she grew up listening to Latin American folklore, son jarocho and rancheras, which you can hear traces of in her own music.

She describes herself as "obsessed with words, sound and the beauty of emotions." You should listen to "Te Guardo" and "Sabré Olvidar" with headphones (like you should when you listen to any song for the first time!). Her singing is crisp, just like the production, and the instrumentals that accompany her vulnerable lyrics are the perfect pace and sound.

Silvana Estrada via YouTube

Next up is maye, who was born in Venezuela and later grew up in Miami. She writes and sings in Spanish and English to slow pop rhythms. Her song "Tú" can best be enjoyed with a glass of red wine and swaying in your kitchen while you cook a meal. And if you have a special someone to sing this song to, that works, too.

Watch maye's Tiny Desk (Home) Concert below:

NPR via YouTube

And finally, from Cuba is Eme Alfonso, who NPR's Alt. Latino host Felix Contreras says is "part of a new generation of musicians throughout Latin America who blur the line between genres and influences." She comes from a family of musicians and was a part of the band Síntesis, which was directed by her parents. Her sound combines Afro-Cuban music with rock and jazz, and it's spirited and soulful.


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

YouTube

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad.


maye's sultry vocals and ethereal energy conjure a world in which areperias shrouded in hazy bubbles and twinkly lights feels astonishingly normal.

The enchanting pop singer fills her "El Tiny" home stage — the artist's favorite Venezuelan eatery in Miami — with family and friends, su propia gente. She opens with a short and simple rendition of the soon-to-be-released "Maybe Baby" before dropping her instrument and transitioning to an up-tempo, vocal-driven performance of "Yours." Picking the electric guitar back up, she strums along with a steady percussion and accompanying guitars for a soulful premiere of brand-new track "Descifrar," emanating an understated and consistent confidence fitting for a pop reina on the rise. She closes out the set with a full-bodied execution of "Tú," showcasing her signature tropicalia-meets-dream pop sound.

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maye's effortless sashay from English to Spanish in her songs and speech represent an important facet of the El Tiny audience. Featuring a whole crew of Venezuelan-Americans, including her famous Latin singer-songwriter papá, Fernando Osorio on the traditional Venezuelan cuatro, the third performance in our Hispanic Heritage Month series authentically represents the experience of a family like maye's — one that exists in both planes, two worlds.

Given a moment and a platform like this, maye seizes the opportunity and creates an alternate universe, where barriers of culture and language dissolve and areperias sparkle.

SET LIST

  • "Maybe Baby"
  • "Yours"
  • "Descifrar"
  • "Tú"

MUSICIANS

  • maye: vocals, guitar
  • Ana Osorio: vocals, shakers
  • Oriana Aravena: guitar
  • Fernando Osorio: cuatro, vocals
  • Patrick Howard: drums
  • Fernando Belisario: keys
  • Guillermo Belisario: bass

CREDITS

  • Video: Fernando Manuel, Carlos Reyes, Alexandra Añez
  • Audio: Andrés Daza, Spencer Ford, Patrick Howard
  • B-Cam Operator: Jose Trujillo
  • AC: Alejandro Villegas
  • 2nd AC: Lewis Reif
  • Gaffer: Michaelangelo Arizmendi
  • Grip: Alejandro Domínguez
  • Art Direction: Alexandra Añez
  • Production Assistants: Nathalie Chybik, Nicole Buitrago, Zelmira Rizo-Patron, Antonio Marval, Andrés Osorio
  • Special Thanks: Pink Poetry, LLC Electric Air Studios, Talk Shop Studios, Underdog Inc, Retro Nomad Productions, EO Entertainment, La Latina Miami and Rafael Urbina

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
YouTube

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad. Read more about the 10-video series here.


Six hands, holding pencils as drumsticks, tap out a simple percussive beat on a Wurlitzer and two desks. Zooming out, the camera reveals the members of Diamante Eléctrico, accompanied by a colorful 10-piece backing ensemble in their home country's capital, Bogotá.

Diamante Eléctrico's brand of Colombian indie rock can be described in three words: funky, inventive and necessary. The Latin Grammy-winning band's music emphasizes community and place — two things that are displayed front and center as the band takes the stage in the second "El Tiny" performance of Hispanic Heritage Month.

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"NO MIEDO!!!" (no fear) and "VERDAD" (truth) adorn the worn-down desks as the collective powers through a politically-charged four-song set. Opening with 2018's "Rotos," they breathe champeta life into their songs through horns and instruments like the guacharaca, played by singer Juan Galeano's brother Mario. They follow with "Suéltame Bogotá," an upbeat plea to escape a suffocating home, and feature a spirited guest performance by Nicolai Fella of LosPetitFellas. "Amalia" leads into a genuine expression of thanks and solidarity, as Galeano gives gratitude to those protesting on "primeras línea y segunda línea," shouting out the students and farmers challenging the government before finishing the set with "A Veces."

It's why Diamante Eléctrico has made themselves so crucial, not only in the Latin indie rock scene, but in music at large: the band's tether to its home country is substantial, no matter how fraught it may seem. Through both its music and stage presence, Diamante Eléctrico curates a shared sense of Latin roots and family, expanding outward from its home of Colombia and resonating across Latinidad, from Puerto Rico to Panama.

SET LIST

  • "Rotos"
  • "Suéltame, Bogotá"
  • "Amalia"
  • "A Veces"

MUSICIANS

  • Juan Galeano: vocals
  • Daniel Álvarez Mejía: guitar, vocals
  • Andrés Kenguan: wurlitzer
  • Mario Galeano: loops, guacharaca, delay, cymbals
  • Marco Fajardo: saxophone
  • Sebastián Rozo [EufoX]: euphonium
  • Daniel Rincón Ucros: tuba, sousaphone
  • Jorge "El León" Pardo: trumpet
  • Pedro Ojeda: percussion
  • Roberta Leono: tambor alegre
  • Alejandro Cifuentes: bombo
  • Lafer Angova: vocals
  • Karen Castiblanco: vocals
  • Nicolai Fella: vocals

CREDITS

  • Video: Andrés Kenguan, Santiago Cortés, Gustavo Martínez
  • Audio: Juan Galeano, Mario Galeano
  • Arrangements: Mario Galeano
  • General Production: Ximena Vargas Rocha
  • Audio Capture: Pablo Mateus, Fredy Ardila
  • Cameras: Sebastián Chocontá, Nicolás Melo, Camilo Báez, Felipe Ramírez
  • Gaffer: Victor Serje
  • Director of Photography: Santiago Cortés, Gustavo Martínez
  • Art Direction: Pigmento Arte, Nathalie Bayona, Carolina Cardona
  • Production Manager: Carla Vásquez
  • Color: Jorge Román Herrera - Crayola Films
  • Management: Criteria Entertainment, M3 Music

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Colombian artist J Balvin poses at the Universal Music offices in Mexico City in March 2020. Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

These next couple of weeks, NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts are getting a makeover for Hispanic Heritage Month. NPR Music has teamed up with NPR podcast Alt. Latino to present "El Tiny," a concert series that will feature all Latinx artists. Up first is Colombian reggaeton sensation J Balvin.

His El Tiny concert was released Thursday (and by the way, he performed it floating on a barge in the middle of the East River in New York City!).

NPR via YouTube

Here's why we're extra excited for this one:

Let's start with the artist himself

You may be wondering: Is it J BAHL-vin or J bahl-VEEN? As a Spanish speaker growing up in the states — and likely embracing my Latinidad more and more later in life — I first adopted the English way of saying his name. But regardless of how you say his name, J Balvin wants you to also know his real name: José — it's the title of his latest album.

In his Amazon documentary, The Boy From Medellín, the singer says J Balvin is his alter ego and José is his truest self. Some of the songs in his latest album, like "7 de Mayo" and "La Familia," get to this more personal side of him and we hear themes of gratitude.

His music resonates globally

While these songs aren't the typical reggaeton hits like "Mi Gente" or "Ginza" that the mainstream audience might know him for, there are still plenty of other danceable beats. It's difficult to choose, but some of my top songs from this album are "Una Nota," "Qué Más Pues?" and "Que Locura."

J Balvin has stood by his word to keep true to his Colombian roots by only singing in Spanish. There are only two songs in the album that include English lyrics ("Otra Noche Sin Ti" ft. Khalid and "UN DIA" ft. Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny and Tainy.) Balvin acknowledges that people don't need to know what he's singing. "I think it's the beat and the melodies and the love that we put into the music; the good vibes" — Balvin says that's what attracts people to this music.

If you want to keep the energy going, you'll love this Spotify playlist made especially for fans of J Balvin.


This story originally published in the Morning Edition live blog.

YouTube

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Tiny Desk is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an "El Tiny" takeover of the (home) concert series, featuring J Balvin, Camila Cabello and several more musicians from all corners of Latinidad. Read more about the 10-video series here.


A tattooed hand scrawls on a small school desk — "Jose by J Balvin" — followed by a signature smile. It's an intimate beginning for the príncipe del reggaetón, J Balvin himself, as he begins his "El Tiny" performance on a sunny barge in the middle of the East River. Backed by the Brooklyn Bridge, Balvin breezes through some of the best cuts off of his new album JOSE (Balvin's birth name). The first three — "Vestido," "Que Locura" and "OTRO FILI" — are moody and gentle popetón, creating expectations of familiar intimacy before he blows the performance wide open with the Tainy-produced, tempo-shifting album opener, "F40." And as the sun descends on the New York skyline, Balvin closes it out with a drop-laden extended mix of the jock-jam Skrillex collaboration, "In Da Getto."

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To talk about modern Latin music is to talk about J Balvin. Over the course of the past 10 years, "the boy from Medellín" has risen from humble beginnings in Colombia to global superstardom, building an unprecedented fanbase at the intersection of pop, reggaetón, house and hip-hop, with over 18 billion views and 35 million record sales to prove it. He is the first Latino to headline Coachella and Lollapalooza, and there isn't a more fitting artist to kick off our month of "El Tiny" performances — Balvin is the epitome of cross-cultural success.

When a drone flies out during the last drop of "In Da Getto," and we finally see the true scope of the barge that Balvin has been performing on, it serves as a reminder that no matter how personal his songs may be, Balvin will always, always, be massive.

SET LIST

  • "Vestido"
  • "Que Locura"
  • "OTRO FILI"
  • "F40"
  • "In Da Getto"

MUSICIANS

  • J Balvin: vocals
  • Jose Rivera: DJ
  • George Ponce: bass, keys
  • Marcus Thomas: drums

CREDITS

  • Video: Jose-Emilio Sagaró Anca Valeanu Omar Reynoso Christopher Cabrera
  • Audio: John Buitrago Fernando Argento Hugo Pinzon John Cardona
  • Production Company: Filmheads
  • Assistant Director: Iohana Sagaro
  • Director of Photography: Kristoff Cabrera
  • Production Manager: Alejandro (ADO) Arias
  • Front of House: John Buitrago

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producers: Bobby Carter, Anamaria Sayre
  • Video Producer: Kara Frame
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Alt.Latino 'El Tiny' Team: Felix Contreras, Reanna Cruz, Anaïs Laurent, Stefanie Fernandez
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Maia Stern, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann