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‘Tito Puente Latin Music Series’ airs Thursdays on Facebook Live

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Tito Puente Latin Music Series’ airs Thursdays on Facebook Live
Performers at this year’s Tito Puente Latin Music Series include (clockwise from top) ÌFÉ, Henry Cole and Mahya. COURTESY PHOTOS

For years, the Tito Puente Latin Music Series, run by Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, Berklee College of Music and the city of Boston has brought dancing feet and infectious rhythms to the South End’s Villa Victoria neighborhood. This year, the concert series will run live on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram every Thursday at 7 p.m. to keep the summer spirit alive.

“This year we couldn’t stop this wonderful tradition of bringing music to you through our partnership with Berklee College of Music and the city of Boston,” said Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of IBA, while introducing the first concert on July 17. “We’re excited, here at O’Day Playground, to present to you a wonderful group that will make you dance and sway and enjoy the wonderful spirit of the Tito Puente Latin Music Series as if you were here.”

The first artist to kick off the three-concert series was ÌFÉ, a futuristic electronic music group founded by Puerto Rico-based African American producer and percussionist Otura Mun. The group blends Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican and Yoruban music styles with an electronica base and sings in Spanish, English and Yoruba. ÌFÉ performed classic hits from their repertoire as well as preview tracks from their sophomore album debuting this fall.

This year, the series will have a special focus on Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean artists and music to celebrate the island roots of many of Villa Victoria’s residents and to support Black artists during the ongoing fight for racial justice. On July 23, Henry Cole, a celebrated percussionist in the Afro-Puerto Rican jazz movement, will perform a tribute to series’ namesake Tito Puente. On July 30, Mahya will perform a concert of her unique Antillean rhythms.

Though the series won’t include the in-person community-building and joyous dancing that’s usually found at O’Day Playground, there are benefits to an online platform. The concerts are saved on the IBA Facebook page so music lovers can re-watch and re-live them as many times as desired. The global platform also allows viewers from all over the world to participate and performers who may not otherwise have been able to fly to Boston to spread their sound.

During the July 17 concert, viewers from Texas, Colombia, New York City and the Greater Boston area all chimed in to express their excitement about the series. “Those of you who know me know I’m going crazy in my [living room] right about now,” Darryl Robinson from Boston commented. “I’m always happy when I’m dancing.” Mission accomplished.

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