Sounds of California: Exploring Migration through Music on Radio


Contact: María de Jesús Gómez, 559-455-5782,

Sounds of California Bilingual Radio Special Explores Migration through Music – Coming March 3 from Radio Bilingüe

The power of music and sound traditions to express migration experiences, cultural resilience and community transformation is at the heart of a new bilingual radio special coming this Thursday March 3, 2016 from 5 to 7 PST from Radio Bilingüe, the National Latino Public Radio Network, hosted by acclaimed author and cultural commentator Rubén Martínez. The program is available free to all public radio stations.

Sounds of California, narrated in English and Spanish, begins with a 90-minute edited concert segment featuring a sampling of performances and interviews from California’s diverse ethnic/cultural arts practitioners and tradition bearers, drawn from a live public event in Oakland, California in December 2015.  From First Peoples to recent immigrants, the artists convey the power of their work within their communities and in the evolving identity and soundscape of the state as a whole.  The program concludes with a LIVE half-hour bilingual conversation hosted by Martínez, who will invite listeners to call toll-free from around the United States to offer their reflections on how music and sound traditions are forces in the immigrant experience, community identity, and the changing face of the entire nation.

Sounds of California is part of a larger research and community engagement initiative led by a partnership of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The Alliance for California Traditional Arts, and Radio Bilingüe.  It is supported in part by the Smithsonian Grand Challenges Consortia for the Humanities.

Artists featured during the broadcast include:

  • Vincent Medina (Muwekma Ohlone), with a story told in his ancestral language that he has brought back from extinction
  • Diamano Coura, “Those who Bring the Message” in the Senegalese Wolof language, West African Dance Company devoted to educating, communicating, organizing and preserving their communities’ ancestral past.
  • Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble, performing tuned gong music rooted in the Muslim-Filipino culture of Mindanao – with a self described “California Accent”
  • Grupo Nuu Yuku – Danza de los Diablos de San Miguel Cuevas & Banda  Brillo de San Miguel Cuevas – indigenous brass orchestra from California’s San Joaquín Valley performing Chilenas and other traditional Oaxacan rhythms.

Host Rubén Martínez is the California-born son and grandson of migrants from Mexico and El Salvador and an Emmy-winning journalist, author, musician and performer. His acclaimed trilogy of books on migration and globalization includes most recently “Desert America,” which the L.A. Times called “Deeply moving and insightful . . . Martínez treats all the people he writes about, and the places where they live, with the kind of profound respect all too rare among the legions of Western writers who have preceded him.” Professor of literature at Loyola Marymount University, Martínez also occasionally hosts VARIEDADES Performance Salons, bringing together live music, spoken word, theater, comedy and the visual arts around topical themes.

National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow Daniel Sheehy, Director and Curator of Smithsonian Folkways, served as the concert host in dialogue on stage with the artists at the live Sounds of California performance that was held in collaboration with the Oakland Museum of California.

Sounds of California will air live on all 12 Radio Bilingüe full-power public radio stations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.  Affiliate stations may carry the program live or taped free of charge through the Radio Bilingüe satellite, website, Content Depot and PRX.

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