Glass Ceiling in Latin Music


Back in the 80’s and early 90’s future looked promissory for female band members and lead singers. What happened? Why is Latin music path turning so retrograde when it comes to equality of genders?

We live in modern times, in kind-of-modern societies, or places on the way to modernizing. When living on quasi modern society, most of us expect some level of equality between men and women. But you know what? The idea of men and women being treated equally and having the same rights is as real as a unicorns! it’s bullshit.

Latin music does not escape this disparity. On the contrary, women’s presence in Latin music is quite poor and disproportionate when compared to male presence. There is a glass ceiling in Latin Music as thick as hell and no-one complaints!

Glass ceiling is defined as “an unacknowledged discriminatory barrier that prevents women and minorities from rising to positions of power or responsibility.”

Although the term is quite political and mostly used in corporative settings I think it can be applied to what is happening in the Latin Music scene. It could be said this glass ceiling is causing the absence of strong female presence in Latin music. And yes, you may be thinking “Well we have Shakira and her hips don’t lie .” While I think Shakira is awesome I also think there is plenty of room to include more women in the Latin music scene and support these women in the same way men are supported.

In most of the popular radio stations in New York city, only 1 out of every 6 songs is sang by a woman. Why about music television? Watch a little bit of MTV Tres; most of the women featured on music videos are the video vixens and dancers.  Every now and then they show a video by female lead singer.  Female singers apparitions pale in comparison to the amount of times males are featured.

Exclusion of women is not limited to radio stations and music television. In important music festivals in NY such as SummerStage Concert Series, males featured as the main performers outnumbered female performers by 4 to 1.

The case of the Latino component of the SummerStage of 2013 is an even scarier scenario. Out of 15 Latin music performers only three were female. Why?

I am not exaggerating. Again, I refer to New York because I live here. That is what I see. And while I absolutely love Central Park SummerStage concerts and I am grateful for all of the great free music, I think they should include more women as their main act.

I am sure New York is not the only city where the content of the music scene and the radio stations are dominated by males. I will keep this short and sweet. Is there a glass ceiling in Latin music? Now that I think about it… for ladies in Latin Music is very hard to aim and to reach as high as a ceiling… most Latina female singers don’t get that far because we don’t have that much support.

An essential step to solve a problem is to recognize it. I am going to leave it to you to think about this: Be mindful, be aware when you are listening to Latin Music radio stations or music television. Just notice the frequency of songs by males vs. songs by females. You wont have to make much effort because approximately out of 6 songs interpreted by a male, a female interprets only one.

Just do this experiment and you will see what I am talking about.

Thank you very much for reading this entry.

Andre Veloz.

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