Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, two legendary music stars who called New York home, are among five Latino music giants honored with a U.S. stamp that goes on sale on all post offices.
The pioneers, who epitomize the golden era of Latin music in the city, were friends who recorded together and died only three years apart in the early 2000s.
They will be in good, if a bit disjointed, company, when the U.S. Postal Service officially unveiled the stamps at a ceremony in Austin, Tex., last month.
Cruz and Puente will join the father of tango, Carlos Gardel; samba singer and sex symbol from the 1940s Carmen Miranda, and Tejano star Selena, whose promising career was cut short when she was murdered in 1995 at the age of 23.
“I think it’s great,” said Claudio Remeseira, director of Columbia University’s Hispanic New York Project and editor of the anthology “Hispanic New York.”
“Little by little,” he explained, “the nation acknowledges its Hispanic heritage, not as something additional to its mainstream, but as part of the mainstream itself.”
All five artists featured have had an enduring legacy, their recordings – and in some cases also movies – still popular and relevant from Buenos Aires to East Harlem, even if, for example, Gardel has been dead since 1935.
But Juan Flores, professor of Latino Studies at NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, questioned the criteria for determining those worthy of stamps.
“Do Latinos do anything but entertainment and sports?” he asked.
“Everything is about the body, nothing about the mind and everything about fitting in and entertaining everybody rather than challenging.”
Other Latinos recognized with a U.S. stamp have been Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos, baseball legend Roberto Clemente, painter Frida Kahlo and labor leader César Chávez.
“People may feel uncomfortable about the stereotypes, the bananas and that type of thing,” said Remeseira, referring to Miranda’s signature fruit hats.
“But we also have to come to terms with the fact that that is also part of our heritage – of our history – and Carmen Miranda played a very important historical role in her time.”
Source: Daily News