Women in Salsa





:: General Information


Excerpts from “La Lupe, Celia Cruz, La India” Courtesy of Frances Aparicio, Latina Scholar


Three Afro-Caribbean women, three Latina minorities in the United States, three voices who develop their singing careers in the United States. Yet despite the foundational gestures of this feminist genealogy, La India also recognizes and foregrounds the struggles of power and the differences among women that foreclose any homogenizing category of "woman." La India provides her listeners with a complex negotiation between the official recognition of Celia Cruz as the Queen of Salsa, and the fact that this title has been established, in part, as a result of La Lupe's invisibility in the history of popular music. La India's homage to Celia is a subversive recovery of La Lupe's radical performances, excesses whose ultimate meanings were perhaps not understood in her own time…


Excerpts from “Listening to Salsa” By Frances Aparicio




:: Music

Sample lyrics


INDIA:Con sacrificio y trabajo ,en ti tienes que creer
,no te dejes caer

CELIA:Cuando me invitaste a cantar contigo
con mucho gusto acepté y ahora tú
y estamos cantando al mundo y a todos los que

“La Voz de la Expenencia

La India, La Lupe, Celia

Original Release 




Impact of work:

Contests the masculimst historiography of salsa.                                                                                     


Significance of work as identified by Latina Scholar Francis Aparico:

"La Voz de la expenencia" is a significant text because it brings together Cuban and Puerto Rican musical traditions, sounds, rhythms, and styles.


The song begins with bata drumming based on religious African chants and rhythms—that establish the foundational role of popular religions (santeria) in the development of Afro-Caribbean music, then suddenly shifts to the brass instruments, a rupture that signals the historical continuity and divergence between traditional religious music and the urban, secular functions of salsa. The song moves on to Celia's and La India's dialogue—accompanied by arrangements more akin to salsa romantica—and concludes with an invocation to Yemaya, the Yoruba goddess of the sea and an icon of female power. The coexistence of Cuban and Puerto Rican musical markers throughout the song—the references to the various national musical forms, to the echoes of musica jibara juxtaposed to references to Yemaya, rumba, and guaguanco—propose a definition of salsa that transcends the nationalisms embedded in these debates. 


It is a feminist foundational text because it constitutes one of the first musical expressions that recognizes different generations of salseras, that establishes a historical continuity, and that suggests itself as a paradigm that traces the participation, legacies, influences, and continuity of women singers, many of whom have imitated and rewritten each other's songs.


             Excerpts from “Listening to Salsa” By Frances Aparicio




:: Related Links







Sabor! Virtual Exhibition |  Site Map

Contact Us | Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2005 Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives All rights reserved.