The Sounds of Latinidad explores the Latino music scene as a lens through which to understand changing ideas about latinidad in the New South. Focusing on Latino immigrant musicians and their fans in Charlotte, North Carolina, the volume shows how limited economic mobility, social marginalization, and restrictive immigration policies have stymied immigrants’ access to the American dream and musicians’ dreams of success. Instead, Latin music has become a way to form community, debate political questions, and claim cultural citizenship.
The volume illuminates the complexity of Latina/o musicians’ lives. They find themselves at the intersection of culture and politics, often pushed to define a vision of what it means to be Latino in a globalizing city in the Nuevo South. At the same time, they often avoid overt political statements and do not participate in immigrants’ rights struggles, instead holding a cautious view of political engagement. Yet despite this politics of ambivalence, Latina/o musicians do assert intellectual agency and engage in a politics that is embedded in their musical community, debating aesthetics, forging collective solidarity with their audiences, and protesting poor working conditions.
Challenging scholarship on popular music that focuses on famous artists or on one particular genre, this volume demonstrates how exploring the everyday lives of ordinary musicians can lead to a deeper understanding of musicians’ role in society. It argues that the often overlooked population of Latina/o musicians should be central to our understanding of what it means to live in a southern U.S. city today.
1. Charlotte, a Globalizing City 17
2. The Latin Music Scene in Charlotte 41
3. Bands Making Musical Communities 59
4. “Thursday Is Bakalao’s Day!” Bands at Work and Play 85
5. The “Collective Circle”: Music and Ambivalent Politics in Charlotte 107
6. Shifting Urban Genres 141
7. Race and the Expanding Borderlands Condition 165
8. The Festival: Marketing Latinidad 189
9. Musicians’ Ethics and Aesthetics 217
About the Author 287
"A ground-breaking study of Southern Latinidad that brings to the fore the political, cultural, and social pressures shaping the everyday lives of immigrant musicians. Under the weight of anti-immigrant legislation and public backlash, Latinas/os of the 'Queen City' are exerting a sense of community, belonging, and cultural citizenship through music making and dance. This book is detailed in its analysis, theoretically nuanced, and richly documented based on Byrdsextensive fieldwork in this global city. It will inspire much needed scholarship on current Latina/o music and dance not only in the global South but wherever new Latina/o communities are remaking the musical landscapes of cities and towns across the United States." ~David Garcia,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"A timely and exciting book offering a fresh look at the growing significance of Latino/a musicians in Charlotte and their role in the making of Southern latinidad. Byrd offers insight into different musical communities in Charlotte through the experiences of Latino/a musicians and illuminates issues related to politics, community, social class, belonging, and immigration. . . . Makes a valuable contribution to anthropology, sociology, and Latino/a studies and is a must-read for anyone interested Latino expressive culture, especially in the U.S. South." ~Kimberly Eison Simmons,University of South Carolina
"Samuel K. Byrd offers an insightful musical snapshot of what statistics, policy think tanks, and others rechristened twenty years ago as the & Nuevo Latino SouthSounds of Latinidad demonstrates how the demographic shifts in southern states are heard as an intercultural fusion of Latino music, signaling a southern form of Latinidad. Byrd brings Charlotte and Las Carolinas to our attention as an exciting immigrant gateway to listen to." ~Journal of Popular Music Studies