A groundbreaking documentary on Latin Music from WKAR producer and Michigan State University professor John Valadez will air nationally in primetime on PBS in May.
His film, The Chicano Wave, is the third hour in a four-part series, called Latin Music USA. This entertaining and insightful documentary dives deep into the history of Mexican American music to showcase how the Latino culture is a part of all of us. Featured in Valadez’ film are musicians and performers like Selena, Ritchie Valens, Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt and more.
“In America, we are all interconnected in ways that are complicated, often subtle, unseen, and unarticulated, and so this series, Latin Music USA, that’s kind of what it’s about. It’s about making unexpected connections that are actually very beautiful and surprising,” said Valadez. “The show is about music, but in a sense it is really America. It’s about what it means to be American.”
Valadez believes a film like this would not have been possible without the expertise and thoughtful research of scholars from Chicano/Latino Studies Programs like the one at MSU’s College of Social Science. He states, “You do not get something like Latin Music USA unless there are dedicated folks writing the books; unless there are people exploring and elucidating the history; unless there are talented musicologists who are placing it in context.”
Valadez has often been called “the hardest working Chicano in the Doc Biz,” and in this case the dedication has certainly paid off. The series will be shown on primetime national television in May, with Valadez’ film broadcast on May 5 on PBS at 9 p.m. – Cinco de Mayo.
In addition to his role with WKAR, Valadez has joint appointments as professor of practice with the Department of Media and Information and the Film Studies Program at MSU.