Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Latin Music Legends Stamps: A Lesson in Labeling

A new set of five forever American stamps going on sale Wednesday honors Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Carmen Miranda, Selena and Carlos Gardel. They represent a range of "Latin musical styles, including Tejano, tango, samba, Latin jazz and salsa."

US Latin stamps
Postal Service vice president Marie Therese Dominguez said the stamps are "a lasting tribute to five extraordinary performers."

I think that they may also be a lasting tribute to America's love to put labels on people.

You see, a couple of these "Latin" stars were actually born in Europe, albeit in "Latin" countries, if we accept that Portugal and France are still OK with that label.

So if the stamps are there to honor "Latin music", then I suppose it's OK to include Carmen Miranda (born in Portugal) and Carlos Gardel (born in France).

Gardel was without a doubt the king of tango, and although born in Tolouse, France of French parents, was raised in Argentina. Miranda, born in Portugal of Portuguese parents, was easily a star samba singer, a decent Broadway actress and a mega Hollywood film star popular in the 1940s and 1950s, when she was according to some sources, the highest-earning woman in the United States.

Tito Puente was a NewYorkRican, Celia Cruz was born in Cuba and Selena was an American-born singer of Mexican ancestry and called the "Queen of Tejano Music."

I wonder if Celia Cruz, "the Queen of Salsa", is the first Cuban-born person on a US stamp?

I'll have to research that...


Man! The power of the web!

Less than a few minutes into this posting, someone already emailed me to tell me that Father Felix Varela Morales was the first Cuban on a US stamp back in 1997.

Update 2: And below is the photo from which the artist who designed these stamps clearly copied for the Miranda stamp:Carmen Miranda

Update 3:
Also, Desi Arnaz in 1999.

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