Latinx Film and Media

El Cantante and “Nothing Connects Us All But Imagined Sounds” (Part I)

.Years after he died, el sonero (improvisational salsa singer) Hector Lavoe is still remembered as a cultural hero. His legacy lives on through street art, plays, poetry readings, clothes featuring his image, [films,] and special salsa concerts across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

.His music is kept alive by artists like Marc Anthony, Van Lester, and Domingo Quinones, who emulate his style. This way of honoring Lavoe represents a deep respect for the past and a connection to a musical tradition that transcends time and place.

.By celebrating Lavoe in these ways, Puerto Ricans in the diaspora express their identity and belonging, bridging the gap between their homeland and new homes.

Discussion Question

Cultural critic Wilson Valentín-Escobar argues that the performances that honor Hector Lavoe, whether through storytelling, music, dance, murals, or ceremonies, reflect the complexity of expressing identity and memory across different places. The scholar says that Lavoe’s legacy transcends physical boundaries, becoming a symbol that connects various geographical locations, including the NYC Puerto Rican diaspora, and engages with varying narratives of Puerto Rican identity and history.

How does the film El Cantante present the complexity of Lavoe’s figure and the “blending of diasporic and nationalist narratives into a collective memory”?

Discuss how including Puchi’s point of view adds nuances to the retelling of Lavoe’s life? What is the effect of this dual protagonist?

Thinking about the film and the essay, how did Hector Lavoe’s persona and music simultaneously embody the Puerto Rican “jíbaro” (islander) culture and the Nuyorican street sound?



Gomez,Angie Carolina


Performing Nuyoricanness

Following Valentín-Escobar, discuss the role of instrumentation, arrangements, and the free mixing of Afro-diasporic musical genres played in Wille Colón and Hector Lavoe Nuyorican identity? (210-211)

Elaborate on the record covers and album titles as a way to perform salsa’s street cred in New York? Concerning stereotypes about Puerto Ricans in the city, how do you interpret these images and titles? (212-213)

Valentín Escobar discusses that “many of Lavoe’s friends, fellow musicians, Salsa music promoters, and music journalists have described his life as plagued with adversity,” why do you think the film directed by León Ichaso emphasized this narrative?