The Grammys | GRAMMY.com
Wearing a long blue lace dress with ruffled ruffled sleeves, the queen of late salsa music Celia Cruz was a powerhouse onstage at the 2002 Latin GRAMMY Awards. With her trademark smile and towering white and blue wig that was so big it looked like a headdress, she energetically sang “La Negra Tiene Tumbao”, her hit song from 2001 which was nominated for three Latin GRAMMYs that night, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Music Video of the Year.
This moment is highlighted in women who rock, a new book that pays tribute to the women who have defined, continue to define and contributed to popular music. The illustrated book is densely rich and written by several authors, all of whom are women. It offers curated playlists to audibly introduce readers to the artists they are reading about.
Navigating the history of women in music isn’t easy, but pop music critic and editor Evelyn McDonnell was determined to do it alongside a list of diverse women.
“I didn’t want it to be just my taste. Or my opinion,” McDonnell shared. “I wanted to have this pool of experts…and I was really looking for a diversity of expertise among these writers.”
One such writer, Michelle Threadgould, knew “there would be this mad rush [to feature mostly] white rock and roll musicians.” So she pitched and eventually wrote songs highlighting Cruz, Selena Quintanillachilean rapper Ana TijouxLos Angeles punk rocker Alice Bag and other Latin artists featured in the book.
“I featured…artists that I really wanted in the book that I didn’t think the majority would feature,” she explained. “I have an essay in there that talks about Alice Bag. Alice Bag certainly didn’t have any pages dedicated to her in a book like this,” Threadgould said.
Representation of Latin women in music
“I feel like [Latinas tend] to be left out of a lot of talk,” McDonnell said. “Starting with Celia Cruz, who is someone I find so amazing and sometimes not recognized enough outside of the Latino community.
“There are so many interesting things about Celia,” Threadgould said. “I think the hardest thing is the things you leave out.”
we Dance. we sing. we are celebrating 5 years of days are gone singing selena pic.twitter.com/I6jx9mmhgl
— HAIM (@HAIMtheband) October 1, 2018
Threadgould begins Cruz’s chapter with his 2002 Latin GRAMMY performance and enters the musical style of Afro-Latina describing “his call-and-response improvisations”. She also explores her exile from Cuba, which played a crucial role in her professional and personal life.
The book also tells the story of Selena Quintanilla, the popular Cumbia and Tex-Mex singer who was tragically killed in 1995 at the age of 23. Over the past two decades, the singer, who made history by winning Best Mexican-American Album in 1994 36th GRAMMY Awardstranscended the Latino community, garnering nods from rappers like Duck and pop group Haim.
Although a film adaptation of Selena’s life was released in 1997, featuring a then relatively unknown character Jennifer Lopez, was critically acclaimed, Threadgould delves into his life before and after his death. “I was also really fed up with her being portrayed as this good girl who [re-affirmed] patriarchal macho values that were bullshit, because it really wasn’t his life,” she said. “That was absolutely not the case. I guess it was kind of like a crop of Selena that was important to me.”
Why this story matters to all women
It’s Selena’s ability to defy her obstacles as a woman and the resilience of all the other artists in the book who have overcome their own limitations that ultimately McDonnell and Threadgoud hope women can learn from the book. and use as encouragement in their own lives.
“It’s a really tough time right now, because I think everything in the news is triggering for so many women, isn’t it. It’s tough. It’s really tough,” he said. said McDonnell. “I’m going through this emotionally, myself. I hope this book can be a point of inspiration.”
Threadgould added: “What I think is really important is this whole idea of owning your rage, owning your ugliness, owning those aspects of yourself that are not accepted by the patriarchy and claiming them and to seek them out, and not be afraid of them,” she said. “Everyone I look up to was like a rebel in their own way. That’s what I really hope women are inspired to be, it’s like being their own rebel.”
women who rock is available now.