Ecos Latinos: Learning about Latin America through music

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — New Orleans has always had a connection with Latin America. Early jazz artists, like Jelly Roll Morton, were influenced by Latin rhythms.

Music continues to be a shared experience between the cultures. Fridays during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Ecos Latinos Hispanic Heritage Series showcases Hispanic artists at the French Market.

“We try to showcase local Louisiana Hispanic musicians, artists, dancers and present their work,” says Patrice Fisher. She and Carlos Valladares make up Ecos Latinos, which organizes live performances and helps educate the audiences about Latin American culture.

“Latin America is so rich in culture from any genre, any expression that you can think of,” says Valladares. “It can go from very classical to extreme avante-garde.”

For a long time, they presented their programs on public access television. But, Hurricane Katrina damaged the studio they once used and destroyed their video library.

“We had to start over,” says Valladares. “One way was through YouTube. So, YouTube became our main outlet.”

Ecos Latinos wants to expose locals to Latin American artists. But, the artists also get exposed to New Orleans culture. This can benefit local musicians.

“What happens when they go home, many times they invite Louisiana musicians to tour in their country,” says Fisher. “We have sent more than 150 Louisiana musicians to perform in other countries with these guest artists.”

“It’s very important for all of us, not just the Latinos, but for anybody, to learn from each other,” says Valladares. “So, we can learn to understand each other, become better people. And, by understanding each other, we can kind of help each other better.”

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