“Fiesta Latina” changes the rhythm at Obama White House
President Barack Obama celebrated the growing contribution of Hispanic culture and music to the United States with a “Fiesta Latina” at the White House, part of a musical series started by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Latin music “moves us and tends to make us want to move ourselves,” the president declared.
Actors Eva Longoria Parker, George Lopez and Jimmy Smits began the show joking that Obama is Hispanic.
Gloria Estefan followed with her Billboard hit “No Llores,” accompanied by Jose Feliciano and percussionist Sheila E.
While the celebration of Hispanic music brought other entertainment heavyweights as Marc Anthony and Jeninfer Lopez, Los Lobos, Thalia and Pete Escovedo to the White House, the evening’s standing ovation went to the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic member of the high court.
Bachata also came out of the dance clubs and onto the White House’s South Lawn, with the Bronx-based group Aventura performing a style of music that has begun to dominate dance floors alongside Salsa and Merengue in clubs across the country.
The music was first heard at parties in the Dominican Republic in the 60s but, largely thanks to Aventura, it has recently taken hold in the United States. The four-man music group debuted in 1999 and is known for combining the ballad-like music and its strumming guitars with r&b, hip-hop and Reggaeton.
In his remarks, Obama said the roots of Latin music are threaded throughout the world, from the streets of New York to West Africa. “Even though it is constantly evolving and changing, Latin music speaks to us in a language we all can understand,” Obama said.
For everyone who didn’t get an invite to the concert, fret not — the “In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina” will be broadcast on PBS Thursday night and on the Spanish language network Telemundo on Sunday.
Photo credit: Larry Downing (George Lopez, Eva Longoria Parker and Jimmy Smits; and Aventura at White House concert)