Onstage Conversation With Rubén Blades
Smithsonian American History Museum
Washington D.C., USA
27 March 2010

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Rubén Blades: In His Own Words

Sponsored by the American History Museum and the Smithsonian Latino Center
Legendary Panamanian musician, composer, and actor Rubén Blades  discusses his viewpoints,
memories, and experiences with curator Marvette Pérez.

    Carmichael Auditorium, 1st Floor, Center
(video will be available at the Latino Center web site soon)
american history museum
El cantautor panameño, Rubén Blades fue el invitado de honor del Centro Latino del Smithsonian, el sábado 27 de marzo, donde fue recibido por la curadora Marvette Pérez, responsable de la exhibición permanente de música latina en esa prestigiosa institución.  Blades participó de un ameno conversatorio y luego atendió a la prensa, donde abordó temas como su carrera musical y política, en el Carmichael Auditorium del Museo Nacional de Historia Americana.  Blades ha señalado que es un honor para él haber sido distinguido por una institución como el Smithsonian por su trayectoria y formar parte del selecto grupo de artistas latinoamericanos como Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Chucho Valdés, Israel “Cachao” López y Johnny Pacheco, cuyas historias han sido contadas y preservadas por esa organización para generaciones futuras.
On Saturday, March 27 the Panamanian singer-songwriter, Rubén Blades was the guest of honor at the Smithsonian’s Latin Center, where curator Marvette Pérez, who is in charge of the permanent Latin music exhibit at this prestigious institution, greeted him. At the Carmichael Auditorium of the National Museum of American History, Blades participated in a lively conversation and then attended the press’ Q&A, tackling subjects such as his musical and political career. Blades, said that it was an honor to have been recognized by such a prominent institution as well as to be part of select group of Latin-American artists that include such magnificent talent as Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Chucho Valdés, Israel “ Cachao “ López and Johnny Pacheco, whose stories have been told and preserved by this organization generations to come.
lining up
Lining up an hour early at the
Carmichichael Auditorium
Director Brent D. Glass
American History Museum Director
Brent D. Glass introduces the program
Marvette Pérez
Curator of Latino History and Culture
Marvette Pérez
Ms. Pérez begins asking questions.

Carlotin's video Pt. 1
The first questions were about his grandparents, and his parents, and the English name Blades.
He said your heroes should be your parents and your grandparents. "If your hero is someone who doesn't know you, that's a problem."
He spoke about education, and his Uncle Roque and his grandmother Emma.
He said the university in Panama was free. It only took the will to get an education. "I've been poor twice, in two languages."
Asked about his vegetarian grandmother.

Carlotin's video Pt. 2

photo courtesy of Matt Senko
He was interested in being an architect but he didn't like math.

Carlotin's video Pt. 3

photo courtesy of Matt Senko
Hector insisted he sing his composition "El Cazangero" on the The Good The Bad The Ugly album. He said Hector wasn't familiar with the song's subject.

Carlotin's video Pt. 4
Salsa vs. cuban music, and writing to document urban reality, and political criticism without sounding like a pamphlet

Carlotin's video Pt. 5
Tibúron can be about any intervention. "I don't believe in good dictatorship and bad dictatorship."

Carlotin's video Pt. 6
If you had asked him some years ago which would happen first, landing on Mars or a black president, he would have said Mars. Then asked, what about a latino president or Mars? He said the thought a latino president would happen first.

photo courtesy of Matt Senko
"I can't be brief."
The word 'crossover' implies abandonment: "I prefer the word convergence"
Questions and tributes from the audience.

About Maestra Vida - and how his characters are all from the same mythical neighborhood. Salsa and the new generation's music.

Carlotin's video Pt. 7
photo courtesy of Matt Senko
About Marvin Santiago, listening to other singers and healthy rivalries.
About the street, and being "bilingually poor".

Carlotin's videp Pt. 8
He talked about integrity, when what you think, what you say, and what you do are the same. That's happiness.

photo courtesy of Susan Walker
Listen to as much as you can. Try to read. Learn a percussion instrument, you need percussion to sing. Listen to the greats - he listened to Sinatra and his breathing.

photo courtesy of Susan Walker
Everyone lined up for autographs and photos

photo courtesy of Susan Walker

photo courtesy of James Skinner

A message at rubenblades.com:

Acabo de regresar de Washington, D.C. donde tuve la oportunidad FANTASTICA de ver y escuchar al MAESTRO Rubén Blades dar una entrevista en el Smithsonian. Les digo, Rubén Blades es una persona sencilla, sin pretensiones de ninguna clase. Se tomó fotos con el público, firmó autografos, cargó y besó bebés, todo con una paciencia y aprecio genuino hacia todos los que vinimos a verlo. Para mi, el hecho de haber estrechado su mano y decirle lo orgullosa que me hace ser panameña, fue uno de los mejores acontecimientos de mi vida.
Rubencito: se le quiere de todo corazón.
Patria, son tantas cosas bellas! Nimia.

American History Museum ~ English ~ Español
Smithsonian Latino Center
Related exhibition: Panamanian Passages located at the S. Dillon Ripley Center

All photos unless otherwise credited
are by Alison Weinstock

Thanks to Rubén and Luba, and to my sisters Susan Walker and Kim Walker
for this photo and for a great day!



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