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Singing the city, documenting modernization: Cortijo y su combo and the insertion of the urban in 1950s Puerto Rican culture

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Esterrich,Carmelo, (Author)
Book, Section
Publication Date:
01/01; 2013
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Puerto Rico, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, South America, 39: Popular music, popular music, United States of America, performing groups
The band Cortijo is contextualized within the socioeconomic changes in Puerto Rico from the late 1940s to the early 1960s as it adjusted to its new status as a commonwealth. Cortijo documents the realities of Puerto Rico's rapid urbanization and modernization at the time. The band's gritty reflections of a black, working class, urban, and marginalized population contradict the official rhetoric and imagery of an idealized rural landscape promoted by the government as the symbol of the commonwealth. Cortijo enjoyed immense popularity and visibility, despite, or perhaps because of, its critique of the euphoria of modernization and its questioning of the sociopolitical effects of internal migration that ran counter to the official stance.