SOUTH OMAHA Art and Music
What role did/does music play in Latino culture in South Omaha?
Latino Music in South Omaha
Research compiled by: Wilbaldo G., Allana P., Andrea R.
Pictured here is Las Estrellitas South Omaha mariachi band, and at the center of the photo is Anadelia Lamas. Bands such as Las Estrellitas are dedicated to passing down and preserving the traditions and customs of Mexican music for the greater Omaha Community. These current bands continue to play mariachi music, which first came to Omaha in the early twentieth century. Today, Latino culture continues to value mariachi music.
Howard’s first opened in the early 1950’s and continues to play a large part in the Latino community by hosting live mariachi bands and serving Mexican food. Bands such as Las Cecilias and others play there every weekend.
By emphasizing its cultural heritage Howard’s contributes to the Latino culture in South Omaha. It is located at 4443 S. 13th Street Omaha, Nebraska, which is the former site of Rosenblatt Stadium. When Howard’s first opened in the 1950’s it was located by many businesses in Omaha, and its location near the Omaha/Iowa bridge made it recognizable to visitors.
Marcos Mora’s guitar is pictured here. Mora is a local musician and music producer who has been important in maintaining traditional Latino music in South Omaha. One of several types of Latino music, mariachi became popular with the advent of radio. Stations increasingly played mariachi and over time people started requesting live performances. It was especially popular among the Mexican and Latino community in South Omaha. Mariachi matters because it connects people to an important part of their culture. Guitars are special to mariachi because they are one of the main instruments in the music. The skill to play the instrument has been passed down from generation to generation. Some guitarists developed different styles of playing, while others discorved new sounds. Over time this led to a transformation of Mariachi music.
The presence of Latino music in the United States has deep roots that go all the way back to the late nineteenth century. When immigrants from Mexico arrived to work on the railroads and in the stockyards of South Omaha they brought their music with them. Perhaps the most popular style of music among these early arrivals was the Corrido. This particular genre tells stories common to many of the immigrants as they traveled from Mexico to far away places such as the Midwest and South Omaha.
Los Tigres del Norte is a modern example of a traditional Mexican group, playing songs about immigrants who face challenges in their journey to America. Los Tigres del Norte, commonly known as simply Los Tigres, performs at concerts, dances and other festivals throughout the world. In the spring of 2013 these international superstars came to Omaha. Los Tigres’ periodic presence in Omaha demonstrates a cohesive, active and significant Latino presence in the city and the surrounding area.
The existence of immigrants in the established South Omaha community influenced local culture, but the English language influenced Latino music as well. Some Latinos sang American Rock and Roll songs in Spanish, while others kept traditional Spanish language music alive. Musical traditions such as Mariachi remain popular today, while other genres from elsewhere in Latin America continue to impact South Omaha.
Editor: Maria L. Perez-Garcia