The Talented Latinas Changing the Game in Indie Music

from left to right: Sarah La Morena, Irene Diaz and Dueto Dos Rosas

Latinas are no monolith, so why expect music by them to all sound the same?

As multifaceted as Latinas are in their identities, the music they produce also manifests into a multitude of radical forms, sounds, and experiences. These five talented Latinas are breaking barriers and making waves in the music industry by showcasing their multifaceted identities through their art.

These singers are spearheading innovations in their scenes by using their modern visions to synthesize traditional sounds with classic styles. From cumbia to disco, these cutting-edge women demonstrate that their tunes are dynamic, revolutionary, and empowering for all Latines and their music tastes.

Sarah La Morena

Sarah Palafox, also known as Sarah La Morena, is the sensational singer who went viral for her stunning performance alongside a mariachi band. Her perfect Spanish and powerful vocals captured the hearts of millions, but what many don't know is that Palafox's incredible talent is rooted in her upbringing.

Adopted as a newborn by Mexican parents and raised in Zacatecas, Palafox is proud of her Afro-Mexican identity and showcases it through her music. She specializes in performing cumbia and norteño music, styles that reflect her cultural heritage.

Sarah La Morena's incredible talent and dedication to her craft are evident in the several singles she has released on social platforms, each showcasing her soulful voice and exceptional range, including her latest hit, "Tres Veces Te Engañé." With a unique sound and a personal story that shines through in her music, Sarah's definitely one to keep an eye on in the music scene.

Irene Diaz

With haunting melodies and a soulful voice, Irene Diaz is a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist that has been making waves in the music scene. Her full-length debut album, Lovers & Friends, was executive produced by Latin Grammy Award winner Carla Morrison.

Diaz draws inspiration from a diverse range of musicians, including the likes of Nina Simone, Nick Drake, and even Ariana Grande. Her unique blend of influences is evident in her music, which has a style that is both contemporary and timeless.

Dueto Dos Rosas

These talented sisters from San Marcos, California, are celebrating and honoring their Indigenous Oaxacan roots through their music. Sheyla and Emily Rosas, known as Dueto Dos Rosas, have gained popularity on YouTube for their stunning performances of musica campirana and rancheras.

As they play requinto and acoustic guitars, the sisters harmonize covers of iconic songs by legends such as Las Jilguerillas, Lucha Reyes, Lola Beltrán, and many others. Their incredible talent and dedication to their craft have garnered them a massive following on their YouTube music channel.

With over 6 million views, their cover of "Cariñito de mi Vida" is a shining example of the sisters' incredible talent and ability to connect with their audience. Through their beautiful music, Dueto Dos Rosas is not only preserving the traditions of their heritage but also inspiring others to do the same.

Cusi Coyllur

Cusi Coyllur, also known as Shannen Roberts, is a Peruvian-American musician hailing from Los Angeles. Her music is a powerful reflection of her personal struggles with mental health and disability issues, and she takes a holistic approach to documenting them through her art.

With a unique and avant-garde style, Cusi Coyllur blends various genres, ranging from experimental to electronic, creating an alluring soundscape. Her captivating and ethereal voice adds another layer of depth to her music, making it even more immersive for her listeners.

Cusi Coyllur's debut EP, "Bipolar Lovers in Love," is a testament to her incredible talent and the authenticity of her music. The EP dives into her experience with depression, panic attacks, and navigating destructive relationships.

Chrisol Lomeli

If you've ever seen Chrisol Lomeli perform live, you'll know exactly what we mean when we say it's like watching the iconic Selena on stage. Lomeli's moves, voice, and overall energy are reminiscent of the Tejana legend in a way that's both powerful and uncanny. Since 2015, Lomeli has been wowing audiences as a member of the popular Selena cover band, Selenamos, but she's now making a name for herself as a solo artist.

In 2017, Lomeli released her debut solo project, and it's easy to see why she's quickly become a star in her own right. Her music is a hypnotizing blend of Latin, disco, R&B, and soul, creating a unique and captivating sound. With her incredible stage presence and musical abilities, Chrisol Lomeli is definitely one to watch.

an image of a pile of books

This article is part of a series developed in partnership with Project Pulso.

Latino history is vital to the American narrative - there is no America without Latino contributions. Despite this, Latino storytelling and history are increasingly being sidelined in educational institutions. The issue deepens when we look at the emerging trend of book banning.

What is the Modern Book Ban?

Book banning is the act of removing books from reading lists, libraries, or bookstores based on content disagreements. Often done with the pretense of safeguarding children, the majority of these challenges come from parents and library patrons. However, elected officials, school boards, and even librarians can also be champions of imposed ignorance - after all, they know knowledge is power.

Recently, the ALA reported an "unprecedented volume" of book challenges. This is alarming for multiple reasons:

  • Censorship: Book banning is fundamentally a form of censorship. Although the First Amendment protects against government censorship, private individuals or organizations face limited restraint. This makes book banning a primary example of legal censorship in the U.S.
  • Democracy at Risk: At the core of democracy is the free exchange of ideas. By constraining this, we challenge the principles on which the U.S. was built. Censorship often paves the way to tyranny, allowing a small group to dominate the narrative.
  • Stagnation: Book bans impede societal progression by avoiding challenges to prevailing beliefs. To quote English writer George Orwell from his eerily prescient dystopian novel “1984”: “The best books are those that tell you what you know already.” Do we aspire to a society that shuns diverse thought? Book bans lead fully in that direction.
Marginalization: Such bans further alienate underrepresented communities. With Latinos already underrepresented in literature, these bans exacerbate the problem.

Latino Representation: The Understated Crisis

Despite making up a significant portion of the K-12 public school population, Latino students are presented with textbooks that overlook or barely touch upon key topics in Latino history. Out of the books published for young readers, only 5% concern or are authored by Latinos. This void extends beyond just fictional narratives.

Recent bans in states like Texas and Florida are erasing the already sparse representation Latinos have. Essential books reflecting Latino experiences, such as My Name is María Isabel, are disappearing from shelves. Project Pulso underlines this issue in their post:

Even beyond Latino literature, there's a broader attack against critical theory. This crusade aims to stifle discussions on racism, sexism, and systemic inequality. In a single year, 2,539 books faced bans, according to PEN America. A startling number of these pertained to LGBTQ themes, protagonists of color, race, and racism.

A Spotlight on Banned Latina Authors

Amidst the unsettling rise in book bans across the U.S., Latina authors have found themselves at the epicenter of this censorship storm. These authors not only highlight the complexities of Latino heritage but also bridge gaps in understanding, weaving tales that resonate across boundaries. Many invaluable works by Latina authors have been banned, including:

  • “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende: Spanning generations, this saga chronicles the lives of the Trueba family in Chile, accentuating the mystical powers of its female characters. Challenges against it cite reasons like its "pornographic" nature and alleged attacks on Catholicism.
  • “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros: Through vignettes, this novel paints the life of Esperanza Cordero, a young Chicana in Chicago. Bans have been enforced based on claims that it instigates skepticism against "American values."
  • “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Pérez: Set against the backdrop of 1930s Texas, this novel delves into the love between a Mexican American girl and a Black teen. Challenged for its graphic nature, it's deemed "sexually explicit" and has earned a place on the Top 10 Most Banned Books list.
  • “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo: The narrative revolves around 15-year-old Xiomara, who channels familial tension into her poetry. Accusations against it range from being "anti-Christian" to violating religious safeguards.
  • “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” by Julia Alvarez: This novel charts the journey of the Garcia sisters, uprooted from their Dominican heritage, as they grapple with a starkly contrasting life in New York, touching on themes of identity, family, and culture.
  • “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel: This enchanting novel narrates the intriguing history of the De La Garza family in Mexico, where love, tradition, and magic blend seamlessly. It delves deep into themes of forbidden love, family obligations, and the transformative power of food.
  • “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolf Anaya: Set in New Mexico; this narrative introduces us to Antonio Marez and Ultima, a healer. As Antonio steps into manhood, Ultima becomes his guiding light, illuminating his path through childhood bigotry, familial crises, and the mysteries of spirituality.

The increasing trend of book banning, especially of Latino literature, is a pressing concern. Not only does it threaten our democratic principles and societal growth, but it also amplifies the marginalization of already underrepresented communities. Our society's richness lies in its diversity, and by stifling these voices, we risk losing an integral part of our narrative. It's time to reassess and recognize the value of all stories, regardless of their origin.