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The Spotify Playlist: Latinx Women Defy Categorization

Vocalist Luciana Souza
Anna Webber
Courtesy of the Artist
Vocalist Luciana Souza

(Sept 15. -Oct. 15) is the perfect time to use our Spotify playlist to highlight the width and breadth of Latinx musical expression.

The five women on this week's list couldn't be any more different from each other in terms of style: An electronic pioneer from Argentina; a Brazilian jazz vocalist; our favorite Chilean rapera/soul singer; a Spanish flamenco-inspired pop vocalist; and a Mexican vocalist so versatile it's impossible to pin her down to one genre.

What they all have in common is they sing in Spanish and they are expanding our concepts of Latin music just be being who they are and doing what they do. If it's a time to celebrate our collective cultures, let this be a soundtrack!

Luciana Souza, "Night Song"

The Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza challenges what we think we know about music every time she releases an album. On her latest album, The Book of Longing, is a song cycle based on poetry from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson and Luciana herself. Gorgeous, other worldly, sublime, thought provoking. Feel free to add your own adjectives.

Juana Molina, "Las Culpas II"

There are very few performers of any genre, or language, or gender that are more intriguing than Argentina's Juana Molina. A former actress, her multi-layered, synth-driven music is a gorgeous electronic sound bed for her one of kind vocals. Anytime I've seen her live, I've felt as if I was just meditating with her and the entire crowd. Check out her latest video and see what I mean.

Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider, "Niña"

I'm highlighting this track from the album Dreamers because it is very typical of how the amazing collaboration between the uber-talented Mexican vocalist and composer Magos Herrera and the string quartet approach the Latin American songbook on this album. They also set music to the words of Octavio Paz, Ruben Dario and Federico Garcia Lorca. How's that for keeping impressive company? The music is just as impressive.

Stu Mindeman "Sin Sentido" featuring Ana Tijoux

Pianist and composer 's father played in the symphony in Chile when Mindeman was crawling around the house absorbing Chilean folk music. His jazz inclinations have never been too far from his beginnings and his latest album is a celebration of that music. For "Sin Sentido" he choose acclaimed rapper Ana Tijoux to use her considerable skills to explore rhythm in both words and melody. Anita continues to impress and Mindeman was right to call on her to illustrate common roots.

ROSALIA, "Pienso En Tu Mira"

Flamenco itself is a hybrid, culling influences from 18th century Europe and northern Africa, among other places. So it should come as no big surprise that contemporary Spanish artists continue that idea of adding to tradition. Add ROSALIA to that list.

Buleriasand hip-hop only scratch the surface of explaining what she brings to the table, as evident in her latest single.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.