Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re giving you the chance to see some of music’s biggest starts at Our 2017 iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on November 4th featuring Camila Cabello, Nacho, Gente De Zona and more! Click Here for your chance to win!
We’re highlighting several people who have made contributions in Entertainment, Politics, Science and Activism:
A Chicana folk singer who uses her music as an avenue for social change, Joan Baez has long been a force for equity and justice in entertainment. Early in her prolific music career, Baez declined to play any segregated venues, only playing black colleges when touring the South.
For more than 50 years, Baez has been a fierce advocate for a wide range of social justice topics, including nonviolence, civil rights and environmental causes.
Estefan’s family fled her native Cuba as a result of the revolution that placed Fidel Castro in the seat of power of the island nation. Estefan has based much of her professional material honoring the memory of her home.
During a career that began in 1977, Estefan is credited as being the most accomplished Latin performer of all time, as evidenced by her seven Grammy awards and nearly 100 million albums sold worldwide. More than her own personal accolades, Estefan’s iconic stature paved the way for others like her.
Juan Felipe Herrera
Best known for his success as a prolific poet, Jose Felipe Herrera uses much of his poetry to unapologetically celebrate his Hispanic heritage. Authoring collections like 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream, much of Herrera's award-winning poetry powerfully tackles social issues and cultural identity.
George Lopez's eponymous sitcom brought the experiences of a middle-class Latino family into living rooms across America at a time when cultural misconceptions were rampant. Like his mentor, Bill Cosby, the actor became an ambassador of ethnographics between his community and mainstream America.
Even more than his career achievements, Lopez's backstory is the embodiment of the American Dream: Raised by his working-class grandparents in Southern California, he put himself through school, and worked his way up to the top of the Hollywood food chain, while never compromising his identity or forgetting his roots.
As a Latina motivational speaker and a rare disease advocate, Lizzie Velásquez has made strides in advocating for people who have both disability identities and Hispanic heritage.
Velásquez was born with a rare congenital condition, which has resulted in many health impacts and physical symptoms for the 27-year-old, including the inability to gain weight. A film of her life, titled A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velásquez Story, has also made waves at film festivals around the world.
Formerly known as the Britney Spears of Colombia, this bombshell "hips don't lie" made her English crossover in 2001 with "Whenever, Wherever," quickly setting herself apart from her American counterparts.
Belting out a slew of hits in her wake ever since her stateside debut, she's gone on to infuse her Latin flavor into America's popular culture, performing alongside the likes of Cher, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige and the Dixie Chicks, among many others.
Ricky Martín ignited the 1990s Latin music explosion, gaining worldwide fame with “Livin' La Vida Loca,” “La Copa de la Vida” and other '90s hits, and he hasn’t slowed down since. The former Menudo member has continued to make news with his Latin pop music and his much-chronicled personal life.
On March 31, 1995, Selena Quintanilla Perez – known as Selena – was shot and killed by the former president of her fan club (now serving a life sentence) at the age of 23. Selena made history, garnering Tejano music mainstream success it had never seen before – or since. She landed five No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart and a Billboard 200 No. 1 with her final studio LP, Dreaming of You, and 20 years after her death remains a superstar.
Aventura made bachata cool. The group brought the traditional Dominican genre to worldwide audiences and inspired a generation of young bilingual bachata artists. As a solo superstar, Romeo Santos took bachata further, collaborating with artists from Usher to Enrique Iglesias, selling out Yankee Stadium, and scoring more No. 1 chart hits than any other Latin music artist this decade.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama in 2009, Justice Sotomayor was on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and an instructor at New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School. Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican-born parents, Sotomayor has the distinction of being the first justice of Hispanic heritage and the first Latina.
Ellen Ochoa is an engineer, former astronaut, and the current Director of the Johnson Space Center. In 1993 Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman in the world to go to space. She has been recognized with NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for senior executives in the federal government. She has received many other awards and is especially honored to have 5 schools named for her.
Pitbull’s parents were first-generation Cuban immigrants who didn't let their son forget about his culture. They required him to memorize the works of Cuban poet José Martí, and Pitbull understood the power of words right away. Southern acts like Poison Clan and Luther Campbell were early influences, but as he grew, the young rapper got turned on to the G-funk sound of the West Coast and the New York City point of view Nas brought to the game.
Pitbull got involved in the game himself when he started appearing on Miami mixtapes and rose to the top to win a Grammy and Latin Grammy Award
The undisputable queen of salsa, Cuban-born Celia Cruz brought a larger-than-life, almost matriarchal persona to a male-dominated genre during the Fania era. With raw, undiluted vocal prowess, a chispa (spark) that spread like a solar flare, and an innate sense of rhythm and swing informed by her African ancestors, Celia was a star unlike any other. To this day, songs like “La Vida es un Carnaval” and “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” are a testament to her place in musical history.
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, who mostly painted self-portraits. Inspired by Mexican popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, post-colonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.
Nydia Velazquez was born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico and was a young activist in her home country, spending her teenage years fighting for a variety of causes including the increasing the level of health and sanitation in her school.
Velazquez came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in political science from New York University. In 1992, she became the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to serve the United States Congress. Velazquez, as a Democrat representing New York, was the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus until January of 2011
Instrumental in creating the sound that became known as salsa, composer and trombone player Willie Colon also did much to cultivate the streetwise urban Latino image adopted by artists today. Colon’s collaborations with Hector Lavoe and Ruben Blades, with whom he recorded the milestone album Sembra, are historic; his album El Malo is a classic testimony to the Nuyorican sound and style of the '70s.
Colon songs like “Calle Luna, Calle Sol,” “Aguanile” and “Che Che Cole” remain DJ favorites and standards of salsa bands today.
El DeBarge was the focal point and primary lead singer of the family group DeBarge throughout the early to mid-1980s. As a solo artist, he is best known for his unique high tenor register, strong falsetto and the hits "Who's Johnny" and "Love Always", and for his collaborations with Tone Loc, George Clinton, Faith Evans, Quincy Jones, Fourplay, and DJ Quik. DeBarge is a three-time Grammy nominee.
N.O.R.E., formerly Noreaga, first rose to prominence as one half of the East Coast hip hop duo Capone-N-Noreaga (C-N-N), alongside fellow Queens-based rapper, Capone. Signed to Penalty Records in 1996, the pair released a hard-hitting debut (The War Report) in June 1997. N.O.R.E. also had success as a solo artist with the singles "Superthug", "Banned from T.V.", "Nothin'", "Oye Mi Canto" and "Mas Maiz".
Big Pun emerged from the underground hip hop scene in The Bronx in the early 1990s, and was the first Latino rapper to have an album certified platinum as a solo act. He first appeared on tracks from Fat Joe's second album Jealous One's Envy in 1995, and The Beatnuts' second album Stone Crazy in 1997, prior to signing to Loud Records as a solo artist.
Pun's lyrics are notable for technical efficiency, having minimal pauses to take a breath, heavy use of alliteration as well as internal and multi-syllabic rhyming schemes. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Fat Joe hails from South Bronx and was raised by his parents of Puerto Rican and Cuban decent. His brother introduced him to rap music and as a teenager, he was highly influenced by fellow Latino rapper Big Pun. Fat Joe explained the rapper's influence on him by saying "Latinos before us who had the opportunity to do it just didn't know how to do it.
They came in trying to do this black music, waving flags. [But] we're trying to kick in the doors for other Latinos and represent our people, and it shows.” Fat Joe has been nominated for several awards from Grammy’s and Billboard Awards to iHeartRadio Music Awards and BET Awards.