"American Sabor:
Latinos in U.S. Popular Music"

On view until January 20, 2013






Latino musicians have had a profound influence on traditional genres of music in the United States, including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop. “American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian, presents the musical contributions of U.S. Latinos from the 1940s to the present, exploring the social history and individual creativity that produced stars like Tito Puente, Ritchie Valens, Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana and Selena.

The exhibition will be on view at the Arte Americas in Fresno, Calif, from November 17, 2012 through January 20, 2013.

Developed by EMP Museum and the University of Washington, and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), “American Sabor” will travel to 12 cities through 2015. The exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.


“The impact of Latino musicians on American popular music moves beyond the unmistakable rhythms and dance,” said Anna R. Cohn, director of SITES. “‘American Sabor’ tells the broader story of Latino communities and how their artistry expresses their experiences as Americans.”

“American Sabor” (sabor is the Spanish word for taste or flavor, commonly used to describe good music) documents the roles of post-World War II U.S. Latino musicians as interpreters and disseminators of Latin American genres while highlighting their innovations in various traditional U.S. genres.

The exhibition focuses on five major centers of Latino popular music production — New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and San Francisco—that represent the remarkable diversity of this music. Each city section explores the broader histories and cultures that created the music from those areas, including how the musical innovations of Latino youths crossed ethnic and racial boundaries and helped shape American popular music, how immigration and migration influenced Latino and U.S. popular music and the ways in which Latinos have musically expressed their experiences as Americans.

“Ford Motor Company Fund is proud to support ‘American Sabor’ as part of our long-standing commitment to Hispanic arts and culture,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Visitors to the exhibition will experience  the many contributions that Hispanic musicians have made to American music and the richness of Latino sounds.”




Based on the 5,000-square-foot exhibition of the same name, “American Sabor” is a 2,500-square-foot learning experience designed for smaller museums and cultural centers. With engaging bilingual (English and Spanish) text panels, striking graphics and photographs, a dance floor and compelling listening stations and films, the exhibition celebrates the true flavor, or “sabor,” of Latin music in the United States.

“American Sabor” will be bolstered through dynamic community and educational programs spearheaded by Arte Américas to maximize its impact. Programs will include several concerts, lectures, and performances that will be presented free-of-charge to the community.  In addition, admission to Arte Américas will be free through the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition is complemented by an interactive website—
www.americansabor.org—that includes expanded exhibition content, historic photographs, lesson plans, video oral histories from Latin music stars, a jukebox featuring a special “American Sabor” playlist and a mixing-board interactive activity.


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Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)


SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.


EMP Museum


EMP Museum is dedicated to the exploration of creativity and innovation in popular music. By blending interpretive, interactive exhibitions with cutting-edge technology, EMP captures and reflects the essence of rock ’n’ roll, its roots in jazz, soul, gospel, country and the blues, as well as rock’s influence on hip-hop, punk and other recent genres. Visitors can view rare artifacts and memorabilia and experience the creative process by listening to musicians tell their stories.

University of Washington


Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is one of the oldest state-supported institutions of higher education on the West Coast and is one of the preeminent research universities in the world.

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. The Ford Motor Company Fund has operated fir more than 60 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, more than 25,000 Ford employees and dealers work on projects each year that better their communities in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit www.community.ford.com.