‘La Brega,’ the bilingual podcast of the Puerto Rican soul
The bilingual podcast ‘La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs' will premiere its second season on Jan. 26.
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Hailed as one of the Best Podcasts of 2021 by The New Yorker and The New York Times, La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs expands season one’s exploration into the culture, history and soul of the island, this time through one of its most-cherished exports — its music.
Known as the island donde hasta la piedras cantan (“where even the rocks sing”), Puerto Rico is home to a dizzying breadth of musical expression. From the lyrical boleristas of the 1930s, to the electric salseros of the 70s, to the reggaetoneros of today who have taken music from the margins and made it a global sensation, La Brega takes listeners on an exciting adventure that captures the Puerto Rican music across eras and formats.
Each episode of La Brega: The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs is devoted to an iconic Puerto Rican song — from the anthemic lilt of “Preciosa” to the well-known pulsing beats of “Suavemente.” In keeping with the broad range of genres and artists, the series employs a variety of formats — personal essays, storytelling, documentary reportage — to show how the themes and lyrics used in each composition reflect the resonance of those ideas today — colonialism, race, feminism, immigration, LGBTQ+ issues, and more.
Hosted by Alana Casanova-Burgess, the series once again brings together a collective of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians, and artists from the island and the diaspora. Participants include writer and scholar Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón, writer and journalist with Centro de Periodismo Investigativo Joel Cintron Arbasetti, San Juan indie radio and podcast fixture Ezequiel Rodríguez Andino, independent journalist Mark Pagán, anthropologist Bárbara Abadía-Rexach, Orlando-based Boricua journalist Raquel Reichard, El Nuevo Dia journalist Victor Emanuelle Ramos, and illustrator Fernando Norat. Plus, music featured is from Brooklyn-based electronic indie band Balún and the Afro-Caribbean group founded in Puerto Rico, ÌFÉ — who wrote the podcast’s theme song.
The second season also features the voices of notable Puerto Rican and other Latino and Latina musicians including — Salsa legend Rubén Blades, Latin Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Susana Baca, Panamanian songwriter Omar Alfanno, Gabby Rivera, Nuyorican writer and speaker, known for the Marvel Comics solo series, America, and her 2019 debut novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, Independent Puerto Rican journalist Bianca Graulau, best known for her documentary, Aquí Vive Gente, (People Live Here), featured as part of the music video for Bad Bunny’s “El Apagón,” and José Massó, WBUR Boston DJ and host of Con Salsa, a 47-year long-running bilingual radio show.
The list also includes Pop artist Ana Macho, Bobby Sanabria, Grammy-nominated percussionist, music historian and co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center, Alberto 'Ringo' Martinez, director and co-founder of leading Puerto Rican-based, Dominican merengue band, Patrulla 15, Richie Viera, producer and owner of the legendary record store Viera Discos in Levittown, Puerto Rico, Mireya Ramos, founder of the only all-woman New York-based mariachi group, Flor de Toloache, Ophelia Pastrana, YouTuber, stand-up comic, activist, and media personality based in Mexico City and Andres 'Velcro' Ramos, a Puerto Rico-based hip-hop DJ and producer.
The second season of the podcast, which is presented by WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios, is made possible by the Mellon Foundation. Recorded in English and Spanish, it will be available on Jan. 26 on Apple Podcast and Spotify.