In our latest installment of Austin Gente, a video/story series that explores Latino identity, we take a closer look at the power music has in shaping identity. We chatted with singer/songwriter Gina Chavez, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Haydn Vitera and Joanna Saucedo of the local son jarocho group Son Armado who all shared just how strong their connection is with música and Latinidad.
Our Austin Gente series published and posted online this Sunday, and there was so much that we couldn’t fit into the piece because the topic sparked such rich conversations. So, below are some additional thoughts from the artists.
Has music helped shape your identity in any way? Let us know in the comments section.
Bonus Austin Gente thoughts:
When Gina Chavez explained to us how the clave (kla-veh) rhythm is the key to all Latin music, it was eye-opening because I had never thought of this concept before. And while Chavez can explain this so much better, basically the rhythm has something that feels like a missing beat. That’s exactly the spot where the music naturally moves you to shake your hips or body. Dancing is such a big part of Latinidad, so to have Chavez break it down was awesome!
It was refreshing to hear that Haydn Vitera, who is biracial, and got his start in country music, says that his experience in the country music scene as someone with Latino roots was very welcoming. “I liked being the Latino in the group,” he said. While he toured with Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Benson encouraged him to do more bilingual music on stage. With that group, he even performed the popular bolero “Historia de un amor.”
Joanna Saucedo had a unique upbringing in the rural community of Adkins, near San Antonio. She remembers picking up some Polish, German and Czech slang in her school, which had a strong community of people who could trace roots back to those regions.