PHOTOS: Traveling exhibit looks at Latinos' influence in American pop music

LATINO POP

Michael Rubenstein/Blackheart Records Group

Influenced by their conjunto musician grandfather, Selena and Chicana punks of the 1970s and 1980s, Nina and Phannie Diaz and Jenn Alva represent the millennial voice of Tejanas and Chicanas. Their San-Antonio based band is called "Girl in a Coma."

LATINO POP

Courtesy of Frank Micelotta/Getty Images Entertainment

Salsa legend Celia Cruz along with pop stars Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan at the first broadcast of the Latin Grammys in 2000.

LATINO POP

Courtesy of Horwinski Printing Co.

Born in 1916, bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado moved from his native Cuba to Mexico City in 1948. He toured the U.S with his dramatic big band and popularized the mambo internationally.

LATINO POP

Courtesy of Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Miami, Florida - home of the Conga line - has been significantly influenced by major waves of Cuban migration.

LATINO POP

Chad Batka

The band Santana became famous in the late 1960's and early 1970s, with a pioneering sound that fused rock, blues, salsa and jazz. Their music featured the blues-based guitar lines of Mexican immigrant Carlos Santana.

LATINO POP

Courtesy of Arlene Richie/Media Sources

Selena Quintanilla was Tejano music's biggest star. Her recordings sold well in Mexico as well as the U.S. In 1995, she was murdered just before the release of her first album in her native language - English.

LATINO POP

Drew Reynolds

Los Lobos is one of the most commercially successful Mexican American bands to blend Mexican R&B, Tex-Mex and punk.


A new exhibit that debuted this weekend at California State University Los Angeles invites visitors to crank up a juke box and dance to some of their favorite music inspired by Latino artists. 

Michelle Habell-Pallan curated "American Sabor" — a free traveling exhibition by the Smithsonian Museum. 

"Everybody knows the story of rock n' roll - country and western got together with the blues and had a baby and named it rock n' roll," she said. "But there's another piece to that story. And it was the instruments and the rhythms brought to that party by Latino communities — and that mix is the sound of rock n' roll." 

Take for instance the song "96 Tears" by Question Mark and the Mysterians. Habell-Pallan  says the 1966 riff is inspired by Tejano music. 

96 Tears by ? and The Mysterians

Or think about the Doors and their song "Break on Through." 

"That's actually kind of built on a mambo rhythm," Habell-Pallan said. "And Ray Manzarek's parents were mambo freaks, so he heard mambo growing up through his life and transferred that rhythm into The Doors."

Break On Through (To The Other Side) by the Doors

The exhibit looks at music from the 1940s to today and is separated into five sections, broken down by geography — including New York and, of course, Los Angeles.

Visitors can also view concert posters, and short films of artists."American Sabor" is at Cal State Los Angeles through February.

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