This week on Puerto Rican Voices, we explore the musical landscape of puertorriqueñidad between New York City and Orlando, Florida. In our first segment, we speak with Miguel Angel “Mike” Amadeo, owner of the famous Casa Amadeo music store of the Bronx. Next, we head to Orlando to interview the organizers of Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian. And finally, we make our way back to New York spend some time in Casa Feliz with its founder Margarite Tavarez.
We start with Mike Amadeo, famous songwriter and owner of Casa Amadeo since 1969. In being the son of famous Puerto Rican guitarist and composer Titi Amadeo, Mike has a deep-rooted connection to music. He began his career as a songwriter at the age of 13 and has written songs performed by famous Latino singers such as Celia Cruz and Hector Lavoe. Through his connection with musicians Victoria and Fafael Hernandez, he would come to own the then-Casa Hernandez, one of the first Puerto Rican owner music stores in New York City. We speak to him about his over forty-five years of running this store, the history behind it, and how it became the unofficial archive of all things Latino music.
Las Fiestas De La Calle San Se has been a long-running celebration on the island that is now being imported into the mainland United States. In Orlando, this festival hosts dozens of musicians and brings in thousands of Puerto Ricans across the country to celebrate the culture. The festival has also become a gathering place for other cultures to come and understand the Puerto Rican culture through its music and its food. We speak with the organizers and musicians about the importance of this festival.
Margarita Tavarez, actor and educator, serves children and family through her company Casa Feliz. Casa Feliz provides a cultural education that Margarita finds lacking in the New York City educational system. Inspired by her daughter, she took it upon herself to develop a bilingual Spanish-immersion arts program that teaches culture through the various children’s songs of Puerto Rico and Latin America. In this segment, we speak to Margarita about the company and also get the testimony of parents who have benefited greatly from the services Margarita provides.
Music is a vital for the growth and development of Puerto Rican culture in the United States. From the songs we teach our children to the grand festivals where we gather from all over the country, music is the root of ourselves that continues to grow generation to generation.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode of Puerto Rican Voices! All the episodes are available streaming online so you catch up on any episodes you have missed. Afterwards, you can start the conversation online using #BoricuasOnline. Until next time.