The truth about “La Bamba” and other discoveries

Review of American Sabor by Renee A., age 16

Here in Seattle we are blessed with such a great variety of venues that offer all sorts of enrichment for our minds. One such establishment is the Experience Music Project, which I luckily got a chance to visit last Sunday, to check out their new exhibit American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music. The exhibit focuses on the influence Latinos have had in American music and its culture.

Joe Cuba band member dancing with partner at the Palladium, New York City, circa 1955. Courtesy of Johan Kugelberg.

Walking into the display, both my sight and hearing were immediately stimulated. The new exhibit is filled with brightly colored albums, photos taken from concerts of bands such as Santana, and performances playing on multiple TVs. There never seemed to be less than three different songs playing at once, whether it was coming from one of the TVs, a booth where you could learn to play some famous tunes on a piano, or through one of the headphones attached to an Mp3 player.

Since I arrived right at opening time on a Sunday, the museum was mostly deserted for the first hour of my wanderings, which meant I had free reign of the Latino exhibit to try out all the booths (as many times as I wanted). My favorite booth was the one where I learned to play a section of WAR’s “Low Rider.” I also enjoyed watching several concerts and music videos from famous contributors to the Latino music genre. I have to say, I was pretty excited when, after watching several (boring) recordings of concerts, suddenly a Daddy Yankee video came up. It showed that although the exhibit focused mainly on the influence of Latino music up to the 90’s that it also included some more recent influences that are popular today.

My trip to the museum was definitely not a waste as I learned quite a bit about a music genre that before the trip I was not too familiar with. I also had a blast listening to new music, checking out some very interesting outfits previously worn by famous Latino music contributors, and learning that the guy who made “La Bamba” famous couldn’t actually speak any Spanish! Winter break is steadily approaching and I bet you will need something to do with all that time you aren’t in school, so go check out EMP’s latest exhibit American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music!

Renee A.
December 2nd, 2007

American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music
Experience Music Project (EMP)
Through September 7, 2008

EMP is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
For more info, visit

EMP is located at the base of the Space Needle on the Seattle Center campus. They are served by buses 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 16, 26, 28, 74, 82 and several others, along with the Seattle Center monorail. For bus times, visit

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