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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 13:05, May 29, 2006
Latino US anthem stirs controversy
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British music producer Adam Kidron, who sparked controversy last month with the release of a Spanish-language version of the US national anthem, will present the song and its album, "Somos Americanos (We Are Americans)" live in concert tomorrow at Ellis Island, the former immigration processing centre off New York City.

The album features "El Himno Nacional" along with a compilation of previously released songs by artists from across Latin America and the United States, all singing about the immigrant experience.

"We were very happy to get permission to perform on Ellis Island because of the symbolism of the place," said Kidron, who also invited Latino veterans to attend the event in honour of today's Memorial Day holiday.

Kidron had said he hoped the song would be become the anthem of recent pro-immigrant protest marches. Yet despite the publicity and accompanying backlash the song generated, it has gotten little play. It garnered 95 plays in the first week but has not been played since on any stations tracked by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, according to Billboard Magazine.

"People were reacting to it as an idea, but no one ever stopped to ask if anyone was listening to it," said Leila Cobo, Latin music editor for Billboard. "As far as I can tell it has not had a music impact, a radio impact."

Many of the artists on the album are not US based, but Kidron insisted that is irrelevant.

"We didn't look at one and say that one's from Colombia, let's get one from Texas," he said. "We set out to find the best of this generation of Latin artists, to show the importance of culture."

Still, the logo on the album, a bald eagle carrying arrows and an olive branch, suggests these artists are talking about the United States. That has drawn criticism from some who question the timing of inviting artists from outside the US to comment on such a politically charged issue.

"You have to be very sensitive to the people here if you are knocking on the doors and are asking them to open them up to you," said Ramon Saul Sanchez, head of the Cuban-American group Democracy Movement.

One artist on the album already raising eyebrows is Cuban folk singer, Pablo Milanes. Milanes' melodic ballads have propelled him to fame across Latin America and Europe, but his connection to the Cuban Government has made him unpopular with opponents of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

The Milanes song on the album, "Exodo," describes the singer's longing to see old friends who have left for an unknown place.

"Pablo Milanes is a very talented singer," Sanchez said, "but people will see his involvement as suspicious and will look for what political angle is behind this."

Kidron defended his choice.

"When I go watch Roger Clemens throw the baseball, I don't care whether he's a Republican or a Democrat," Kidron said. "Pablo Milanes is one of the most talented singers in the world."

Cobo said Latin artists have long sung about immigration and its effects north and south of the border, but because the lyrics are mostly in Spanish, until now the general public has rarely listened to them.

Other artists whose songs were included on the album are Puerto Rican singer Obie Bermudez, Miami-based Cuban musician Willy Chirino and the band Los Terribles del Norte. Kidron said he was not sure which artists would attend the event.

Source: China Daily

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