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The Miraculous

The Miraculous: Music

21. 1954-1963, Los Angeles

In the mid-1950s, a youthful singer becomes a sensation in Los Angeles’s Mexican-American community for his energetic R&B performances. Switching effortlessly between English and Spanish, he appeals especially to young girls who flock to his performances at the El Monte Legion Stadium, a venue conveniently located just outside the LA city limits and thus not subject to the city’s restrictive racist regulations.

The Miraculous: Music

22. 1947-2006, Texas, Mostly

Born in the summer of 1937 to a family of migrant Mexican laborers in the Texas town of San Benito (“birthplace of Conjunto”), at 10 he is earning $3 a day picking cotton in Arkansas where he discovers rhythm and blues.

The Miraculous: Music

23. 1950-1992, Spain

Leaves school at 12 to sing in the streets for coins that buy bread, milk and cigarettes. At 16, departs his isla for Málaga and the Taberna Gitana. A few months later he’s in Madrid

The Miraculous: Music

24. 1947-1948, New York

This drummer-composer-dancer usually gets new skins for his conga drums at La Moderna, a bakery on 116th Street near Lennox Avenue. Advertising itself as a “reposteria y pasteleria” that is happy to take special orders for “bodas, bautizos, banquetes y fiestas” and features, among other delicacies, turrones, mazapan de Toledo and membrillo de guayaba.

The Miraculous: Music

25. 20th Century; Havana, Cuba

She is the toast of Havana, a wealthy courtesan who consorts with presidents and generals, who owns numerous houses and nine splendid automobiles, which she drives herself (she is said to be first woman in Cuba to possess a driver’s license).


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2022

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