The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles

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Josh Kun
Univ of California Press, Sep 12, 2017 - History - 303 pages
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In 1980, the celebrated new wave band Blondie headed to Los Angeles to record a new album and along with it, the cover song “The Tide Is High,” originally written by Jamaican legend John Holt. Featuring percussion by Peruvian drummer and veteran LA session musician “Alex” Acuña, and with horns and violins that were pure LA mariachi by way of Mexico, “The Tide Is High” demonstrates just one of the ways in which Los Angeles and the music of Latin America have been intertwined since the birth of the city in the eighteenth century.
The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists, and iconic Latin American musicians to explore the vibrant connections between Los Angeles and Latin America. Published in conjunction with the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, the book shows how Latin American musicians and music have helped shape the city’s culture—from Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, and from Carmen Miranda to Pérez Prado and Juan García Esquivel.

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For readers FYI:
Yma Sumac absolutely was a descendant of King Atahualpla (from her mother's side) and that was verified in 1947 by Peruvian officials and historians years before she came to
America. She had a huge career in South America where her own people, namely in Brazil and Argentina (and eventually Mexico by 1945), took her very seriously and respected her origins. She was already referred to as "exotic" and an Incan princess from her earliest days at age 17. She arrived in Los Angeles already glamorous movie star looking. Neither Capitol records or Los Angeles created that. If anyone finds a glamorous woman from a foreign country as "camp" that is their issue. Not hers. And suffice to say, the twangy simple traditional Peruvian music got her nowhere when she first arrived in New York in 1946, therefore she would have to expand the scope of it to appeal to U.S. audiences. If that called for a 122 pieces be it. She would go on to sing at the Tchaikovsky Opera house in Russia, as well as Carnegie Hall, The Lido in Paris, Royal Albert Hall in London and the Mikado in Japan.  


Mexican Musical Theater and Movie Palaces in Downtown
Rumba Emissaries
Hollywood and the Propa
A Century of Latin Music at the Hollywood Bowl
A Conversation with Elisabeth
A Speculative History
Heroes and Saints
Staging the Dance of Coalition with VersaStyle
Gender and
Caminos y Canciones en Los Angeles CA
List of Contributors

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About the author (2017)

Josh Kun is an author, journalist, curator, and Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He is a winner of a 2006 American Book Award and is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow.

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